The House Appropriations Subcommittee for Homeland Security recommended level funding Thursday for public broadcasting’s Next Generation Warning System.
The Next Gen Warning System, funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, received its first appropriation of $40 million earlier this year, for fiscal year 2022. America’s Public Television Stations first lobbied for the system’s creation in 2020, arguing that public broadcasting needed infrastructure improvements to assist with public safety projects.
The subcommittee’s recommendation contrasts with the Biden administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2023, released in March, which did not include funding for the program. The subcommittee’s decision now goes to the full House Appropriations Committee for consideration next week.
In a news release, Patrick Butler, president of America’s Public Television Stations, said public broadcasting’s digital infrastructure “currently provides the backbone for emergency alert, public safety, first responder, and homeland security services” nationwide through the Emergency Alert Service for severe weather and AMBER alerts.
Butler said public broadcasting has partnered with FEMA to provide the Wireless Emergency Alert system, which enables cellphone users to receive geotargeted text messages during emergencies even when internet service is disrupted. He also said stations are working with the California Office of Emergency Services to reduce the early earthquake warning standard from 30 seconds to less than 3 seconds. Pubcasters are also providing emergency services in Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina, Butler said.
“We are most grateful to the bipartisan leadership of Subcommittee Chair [Lucille] Roybal-Allard and Ranking Member [Chuck] Fleischmann, and the full membership of the subcommittee, for the critical support they have provided for the work of local public television stations to do our part to keep America safe,” Butler said.