Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Issues Loom as Threat to Industry’s Ability to Ship Gear

By James Voyles, LSCC, Executive Director

In the recent weeks, you have undoubtedly seen headlines regarding the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and its potential to erupt into flames – and its subsequent recall and ban from airlines. You may have also heard that Amazon was recently fined by UK officials for shipping lithium ion batteries by air. The news coverage of battery related incidents with airplanes seems to grow by the day. While it is easy to read past these headlines as merely interesting, an increasingly relevant question is: will this affect the sports production business? The answer to this question is particularly impactful to companies, contractors, and networks that rely on the air cargo network to fly battery powered equipment between sports venues.  

The ripple effect from the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery may have adverse effects on the TV production community's ability to ship equipment.

The ripple effect from the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery may have adverse effects on the TV production community’s ability to ship equipment.

As media outlets continue to blame lithium batteries for the Note 7’s incendiary issues, unfavorable changes in public attitudes towards shipping them on passenger planes are not far behind. This is demonstrably true when realizing that airlines have banned the Note 7 from their passenger cabins.

Public opinion changes matter to business because, as they change, lawmakers’ opinions change.

The industry is currently facing the very real danger that inflated public reactions will lead to unsound policy formation from both Congress and overactive regulatory regimes – and this industry does not want to see batteries banned on passenger or cargo airplanes.

The question is no longer “if”, but “when” these regulations will come down the pipe.

Stifling regulations are already being implemented in the UK, and it is increasingly likely that the U.S. will follow suit. Just recently, the UK fined Amazon $84,295 for “inadvertently” trying to ship lithium batteries in violation of air safety regulations. According to the prosecutor, “under the right circumstances the batteries, even new, undamaged batteries, could overheat, potentially causing burns, explosions or a fire.”

Battery cargo scrutiny is also no longer limited to just air – it spilled over into sea transportation last week when Brazilian authorities required Sea Shipping Line to produce its battery cargo’s manufacturing date and country of origin.

Again, if you are a league, shipper, network, or broadcaster, how does this affect your business? The reality is increasingly coming into focus, and it is settling on bans, fines, criminal charges, or regulatory requirements so burdensome that shipping batteries will no longer be worth the cost. Any new regulations will certainly affect production mobility, but there are steps that the sports broadcast and video industry can take to counter what is happening in Washington DC. Focused industry efforts aimed at educating lawmakers that demonstrate your technical capability and safety record is more valuable than you can image.

It can literally stop Washington from banning your battery cases on airplanes or imposing huge fines on you for simply doing your job. But you need to speak up – and now is the time.

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