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 October 24, 2006                                                    
Release No. M-106-06





            Mayor Mufi Hannemann yesterday (Monday, October 23, 2006) held the first of what will be a series of regular meetings with executives of Hawaii’s four major television stations to improve Honolulu’s emergency communications.

            Participants in yesterday’s meeting included the general managers of KHON, KITV and KGMB and the news director for KFVE/KHNL as well as Mayor Hannemann and his executive advisor, Jeff Coelho, a longtime Hawaii radio executive.

            The TV executives expressed agreement with the mayor’s proposal that City officials use the City’s Traffic Management Center to communicate directly with their stations in an emergency. The Traffic Management Center has backup generator power and three direct links to radio and TV stations. Those links are normally used by the stations’ respective traffic reporters.

            The TV executives said it would be a good idea to use those links in emergencies to get vital information to their audiences. (However, not all of the stations have backup generator power to broadcast during a blackout.)

             They also were pleased to hear that the City plans to use the national Emergency Alert System to communicate directly to the public. The EAS system in Hawaii has been under state control, and Oahu Civil Defense Agency has not been able to use it previously because of a lack of training and absence of state protocols. Hannemann said the City is addressing those matters to ensure Oahu Civil Defense can provide accurate, timely information to the public without having to wait for state approval.

            Coelho noted that federal law provides for counties or other local governments to use the EAS. He also pointed out that the state’s EAS plan, written in 2003, provides for sending emergency alerts over designated radio stations. The state plan, however, designates no television stations. That omission is being addressed by the City, he said.

The meeting with the television leaders was held in the OCDA emergency operations center. “We’d like you to know that we welcome the media here,” said Hannemann. “In any emergency, it is the City  that provides all of the initial responses – fire, police and emergency medical personnel. Those are all City people, and we just feel the City is in the best position to give the media and the public the most accurate, up-to-date information. That was not the case on Blackout Sunday, October 15.”

Hannemann noted that one TV station, KHON, has a direct link between Oahu Civil Defense Agency, in the basement of the Frank F. Fasi Municipal Building, and the KHON studio in Kakaako. City officials encouraged the other stations to install similar links.

The mayor told the TV officials the City will continue working with the state. However, he added, “It’s clear that we have the ability and responsibility to communicate directly with the public on Oahu concerning conditions on this island in an emergency.”

In addition to yesterday’s meeting, Hannemann has contacted the Hawaii Association of Broadcasters, which includes television and radio executives, to begin a regular dialogue with the City over emergency communications issues. The mayor hopes to meet with the group at least three times a year at the Oahu Civil Defense emergency operations center.





Media contacts:

            Bill Brennan, 527-6928

            Mark Matsunaga, 527-5767  


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

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