For decades, America's hometown television and radio broadcasters have served as first informers by using their reach, signal strength and newsgathering resources to deliver timely, accurate alerts and emergency warnings to the public. As the primary communications medium for keeping local communities safe and informed during times of emergencies, local broadcasters serve in an indispensable role as the backbone of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), now part of the Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) developed IPAWS to improve public safety through the rapid dissemination of emergency messages to as many people as possible over as many communications devices as possible. In addition to the Emergency Alert System, these communications include the National Warning System, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on mobile phones and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio.
Authorizing IPAWS into law will help ensure that all parts of the system - broadcast alerts, cell phone text messages and other communications pathways - will develop as an interoperable, unified and reliable system. Not only will this authorization allow Congress to exercise greater oversight and increase the certainty surrounding IPAWS, but it will also improve this critical program in two key ways:
NAB supports the bipartisan versions of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1472, H.R. 1738, S. 1180) that would accomplish each of these goals. NAB urges Congress to pass legislation to authorize IPAWS and strengthen our nation's emergency alerting and public safety.