House Subcommittee Approves Bill Allocating $40M for Next-Generation Warning System
Friday, June 17, 2022 | Comments

The House Appropriations Committee approved a draft fiscal year 2023 Homeland Security funding bill that would allocate $40 million in funding modernize public broadcasting next-generation emergency warning systems.

The bill has been approved by the committee and moved onto the full house for approval. If approved by the full house, the $40 million would be allocated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to modernize the system.

“Public safety and civil defense have become increasingly important missions for public television,” said Patrick Butler, president and CEO of America’s Public Television Stations. “Public broadcasting stations reach 99% of the American population, and are the only local media in many communities, making our work in alert and warning critical to the safety of people and communities throughout the country. Public television’s digital infrastructure currently provides the backbone for emergency alert, public safety, first responder, and homeland security services in many states and communities, including many local stations that serve as their states’ primary Emergency Alert Service (EAS) hub for severe weather and AMBER alerts.”

Butler said that public television stations are also partnering with FEMA to improve the capabilities of the warning system.

“In addition, public television has partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system that enables cell subscribers to receive geo-targeted text messages in the event of an emergency, reaching them wherever they are in times of crisis, even if the internet is disrupted,” he said. “Between March of 2020 and January of 2022, over 13,000 WEAs were sent to millions of mobile devices using the WEA system. More than 600 of these included COVID-19 alerts. This program will help ensure that public broadcasting stations’ infrastructure is modern and reliable so that stations can continue to play an essential role in civil defense and homeland security while also enhancing their ability to provide alert, warning and interoperable communications and incorporate emerging technology in those life-saving activities.”

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