U.S. Rep. Dale Strong (R-Huntsville) has come out against the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) decision to move Jackson County from the Huntsville Designated Media Market Area (DMA) and into the Chattanooga, Tenn. DMA.
Strong mentioned in his statement that many of his constituents have reached out to oppose the decision of the FCC.
Jackson County residents are Strong's constituents and live within what many north Alabamians know as tornado alley. According to NWS data, in just 2023 alone, 14 tornados have occurred in areas covered by the Huntsville DMA.
Strong recently sent a letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel stating, "An overwhelming majority of my Jackson County constituents rely upon Huntsville TV Stations for severe weather coverage." Strong continued, "according to the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). This DMA reassignment serves as the top public safety threat facing its constituency."
1819 News reached out to the Jackson County EMA Director Paul Smith, who also opposed the move.
Smith said, "Severe weather is the number one threat hazard to Jackson County – without question. Our citizens rely on those Huntsville TV stations coverage for a heads-up of hundreds of miles for weather, and they know when to shelter based upon what they are seeing up on the television – and that saves lives."
Strong, who has long served as a first responder with the Monrovia Fire and Rescue Department, added, "As a first responder myself, I believe Jackson County residents' inability to access the Huntsville TV market would hold adverse consequences for severe weather preparedness."
In addition to the public safety concerns, Strong also argued that an overwhelming majority of the Jackson County residents live closer to Huntsville than Chattanooga.
He emphasized that a sizeable portion of Jackson County residents work in the Huntsville Metro area.
Strong concluded the letter with an appeal for reconsideration, stating, "Therefore, in the interest of public safety, I request your full and fair consideration of this request for Jackson County to remain in the Huntsville DMA. My office stands prepared to address any questions you may have regarding this matter."
Sean Ross, communications director for Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL), said, "Senator Britt wants Jackson County to remain in the Huntsville DMA, and our office will be working to ensure Alabama's voice is heard loud and clear on this important issue."
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