As one of numerous child safety advocates across the country, I am extremely saddened and disappointed with the FCC’s astonishingly insensitive action this week preventing hundreds of thousands of truck drivers from becoming critical first responders in the search for missing and abducted children and adults.
I could not be more disappointed in the FCC for failing to acknowledge the vast contribution that America’s 2.5 million strong trucking community provides to our great nation by providing them with a basic service that would have ultimately benefited our entire country.
We frankly disagree with the FCC, as do the more than 50,000 truck drivers and public safety advocates who wrote to the Commission regarding the public interest benefits of our proposal. Ultimately, the FCC has missed an opportunity to save lives.
Twenty years ago, my daughter Polly was kidnapped, but the long-haul trucker community was there to help circulate flyers far and wide. We rapidly realized 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. It’s still a fact that there are thousands of truckers in rural America who cannot access basic TV at truck stops across the country – for 10 hours or more per day their cabs are their living rooms on the road.
Clarity Media found a way to serve the trucking community so it could enjoy — at an affordable rate — the high-quality television services the rest of society takes for granted. Yet the FCC ignored compelling arguments, multiple tests and benefits to the trucking community as well as missing children.
Clarity’s proposal included a Public Safety and Alert channel that would have allowed 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 would have also featured lower-profile cases that may have failed to receive media attention, including missing adults excluded by their age from the Amber Alert system.
The FCC’s decision means a lot of underserved and underprivileged truck drivers won’t be able to assist the families and law enforcement officials who so desperately need their help. We hope the Commission will soon realize how its decision adversely affects cases involving missing and abducted children. We plan to continue our fight and urge the public to join us.