FCC Regulatory Action on Trucker TV Could Save Lives

When North Carolina truck driver Beano Francis spotted a white Ford Escort headed south on Interstate 85 in July, he recognized the car from an “Amber Alert” and quickly notified authorities. Police say the West Virginia man driving the car had “met” the 13-year-old girl online before abducting her and credited Mr. Francis for his fast action, but he was actually just the latest trucker to answer a family’s prayers and help an abducted child return safely home. 
It was big news, but professional truckers responding to Amber Alerts is actually fairly common – it was even the second success story in North Carolina in July alone. My family’s introduction to the long-haul trucker community came when my daughter Polly was kidnapped in 1993 and the drivers helped circulate flyers far and wide. You rapidly realize that truckers are out there on the roads and at highway rest stops, convenience stores, gas stations, and fast food restaurants where persons on the run frequently try to escape.
So it has been a bit mind-boggling over the past several years that a broad-based alliance that includes the foundation we formed in the wake of Polly’s murder, KlaasKids, has been unable to convince the Federal Communications Commission to approve a proposal that would literally bring hundreds of thousands of new truck drivers into the missing persons loop.
The proposal we support has been made to the FCC by Clarity Media Systems, LLC, a subsidiary of Flying J Inc., the company that owns and operates all those Flying J travel plazas. Under U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, commercial truckers must spend at least ten hours or more per day resting. If the trucker’s cab becomes their “living room on the road,” then those Flying J plazas are their community centers.
However, one service that truck drivers have never been able to access in their on-road living rooms is basic television. Clarity has proposed to change that by providing 70 channels of television programming, including five of its own locally-produced channels to entertain and inform truckers. This localized, low-powered system would reach truckers in these on-road living rooms, effectively creating a video hot spot limited to within the truck-stop perimeter – but they need FCC approval.

Perhaps most importantly for those concerned with missing persons, Clarity’s proposal includes a Public Safety and Alert channel that will allow truckers to receive news flashes, special reports, and full-length programming about unresolved missing person cases from local television stations, national cable and satellite channels, and Clarity channels. And in addition to high-profile cases, the service will also feature lower-profile cases that may have failed to receive media attention, including missing adults excluded by their age from the Amber Alert system.
We at the KlaasKids Foundation know firsthand the valuable role that informed long haul drivers can play in fulfilling our mission to recover missing persons and look forward to working with the Alert effort to highlight specific cases.
To many of us, this frustrating case just seems like such a no-brainer: It costs the taxpayers nothing; it provides professional drivers with a service they want and need; it saves lives. We will never know how many people might have been saved in the years this has languished in the FCC process, but surely it is time to allow Clarity to implement its proposal.
Let’s face it, we sure could use more of those trucking heroes like Mr. Francis in North Carolina. Families hoping for just such a miracle should not miss their chance because of regulatory inaction.

Why America’s Long Haul Truckers Deserve TV Service

This evening Nancy Grace made a call to action to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the agency that regulates broadcast media, to grant a license so that America’s vast long haul trucking community could at long last be able to watch a suite of television options during their federally mandated rest stops. Climb on board and demonstrate your support of this important initiative by letting the FCC know how you feel.

Since 2004, the KlaasKids Foundation has been aggressively participating in a case at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington, DC. KlaasKids wants the FCC to approve a proposal that will unleash major resources for the cause to recover missing children and adults at no cost to Government.  The case has suffered from prolonged delays, and we need your voice to arouse the FCC from its slumber and jar it to action.

The proposal we support has been made to the FCC by Clarity Media Systems, LLC, a subsidiary of Flying J Inc., the company that owns and operates hundreds of Flying J travel plazas across the country’s highways. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires America’s 2-million long haul truck drivers to spend 10-hours or more per day resting. Flying J provides a variety of vital services to long haul truckers making it a popular and viable rest destination. However, one service that truck drivers have never been able to access is basic television service. Clarity has proposed to provide 70 channels of television programming – local stations, national cable and satellite channels, and its own specially originated program channels to entertain and inform long haul truckers during federally mandated rest stops.

In other words two million people, four million eyes that could immediately respond to word that a person is missing and seek to locate them are not getting that word.  Clarity’s proposal will enable these drivers — who are out on the roads and at highway rest stops, convenience stores, gas stations, and fast food restaurants where persons on the run frequently go – to receive news flashes, special reports, and full-length programming about unresolved missing person cases from local television stations, national cable and satellite channels, and Clarity channels.

Of particular note, Clarity proposes to originate a special Public Safety and Alert Channel that will focus on the plights of missing persons. With my assistance, programming will be produced to highlight high profile cases like the disappearance of Morgan Harrington from a concert at Virginia Tech University on October 20, to low profile cases that failed to receive media attention to missing adults who are excluded by their age from the Amber Alert system. Clarity will make this special channel the default channel that every truck driver sees when he turns on the television set while at rest in his cab and that plays continuously in the common areas of the highway travel plazas.

I know firsthand the valuable role that informed long haul drivers can play in fulfilling our mission to recover missing persons.  When Polly was abducted, the long-haul driver community made a point to circulate her poster broadly in the hope that she could be recovered. Had the service that Clarity proposes been available when Morgan Harrington disappeared from a rock concert tens of thousands of long-haul drivers in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, DC, Maryland and other surrounding or regional states could have been alerted and on the lookout for her immediately following her abduction.  Instead, her whereabouts remain unknown without this effort even being made.  There are thousands of similar examples.

In short, with Clarity’s programming in the cabs of their trucks and at their rest stops during their government mandated rest periods, professional long-haul drivers will become an army of millions of law-enforcement-minded first responders to disseminate vital information to their colleagues, apprehend abductors, and recover our missing dear ones. 

Please add your voice to the wake-up call that we will soon be sending to the FCC demanding that it stop sitting on this important case and approve Clarity’s proposal.  To do so, please select this link, type in your own words the reasons why it is important for the FCC to act immediately to make this public safety service a reality, and return to me.  We will bring your words to the direct attention of the FCC Chairman and Commissioners right away.