System Emergencies

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The Public Radio Satellite System has extensive plans in place to maintain operations of the PRSS in the event of an emergency situation.

  • Primary Satellite Service
  • Backup Satellite Service
  • Interim Service During Satellite Outage
  • Emergency Communications
  • Business Continuity Planning

Primary Satellite Service

PRSS occasional and full-time public radio distribution services are provided via transponders one, three, and five on the Galaxy 16 satellite at 99° west longitude.

Backup Satellite Service

The PRSS service protection plan provides a variety of backup arrangements in the event of either transponder-level failures or a complete satellite failure.

A single transponder failure may be dealt with by moving our services to a reserve transponder aboard the same spacecraft. The arrangements for catastrophic failure of the entire satellite are multi-layered and situation-specific, and are subject to change depending on the timing of the failure as well as the availability of certain other satellites in the Intelsat fleet. Some of the backup contingency scenarios require that stations be able to re-point their antennas to other satellites, either for a few days or indefinitely, should the satellite operator be unable to restore service at the 99 degrees west longitude location. In the event of any service interruption due to satellite failure, stations and producers will be notified via the ContentDepot messaging system.

Interim Service During Satellite Outage

Any significant failure of the satellite will cause at least a temporary interruption of service until the satellite operator can identify the problem and move services to backup capacity, as needed. To fill this gap, the PRSS has arranged to feed public radio's full-time programming services—NPR, APM, PRI, BBC, Classical 24, and WFMT's Beethoven Network—to stations via voice grade telephone bridges, until service is restored on backup satellite capacity. Depending on the service outage length, individual producers and distributors who use the PRSS may also institute other means of transmitting their programs to stations. These alternatives may include the use of the PBS satellite for co-located radio and TV stations, on-line audio streaming, and ISDN lines.

Emergency Communications

The PRSS has implemented an emergency alert LISTSERV, called ContentDepotEA. This LISTSERV is designed to deliver urgent PRSS communications in the event the ContentDepot messaging system is unavailable. All station and producer users that have Type 1 urgent message forwarding set up in the ContentDepot messaging system will be included in the ContentDepotEA LISTSERV.

If you have any questions about any of these procedures, please contact the PRSS Help Desk at 800.971.7677, or via email: prsshelp@npr.org.

Business Continuity Planning

The PRSS has a systemwide plan in place for business continuity, but that it won't cover your station operations in a local emergency like equipment failure or flood. For this reason, we've prepared the PDF below to show you—step-by-step—how to create and maintain a local business continuity plan.

You can do as much or as little formal planning as you choose, based on your perceived needs and available resources. But there are benefits to formal planning, and we encourage you to explore the information presented in this document.