House subcommittee recommends more funding for Next Generation Warning System

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The House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee recommended $40 million in funding Tuesday for the Next Generation Warning System for fiscal year 2025.

The program, which receives the funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is managed by CPB, was first given $40 million in fiscal year 2022 and received an additional $56 million in FY23. Since its creation, the program has funded public safety and infrastructure projects for stations in Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Colorado, Michigan, Mississippi and Texas.

Funding for the Next Generation Warning System is separate from CPB’s annual forward-funded CPB appropriations. CPB requested that Congress provide $56 million for the grant program for FY25.

“Public safety and civil defense are essential parts of public television’s mission to serve the American people,” said Pat Butler, CEO of America’s Public Television Stations, in a news release. “Public broadcasting stations reach 99% of the American population, and we 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.”

Butler added that some stations serve as their states’ primary Emergency Alert Service hub for inclement weather and AMBER alerts. He also said public media has partnered with FEMA to provide the Wireless Emergency Alert system that “enables cell subscribers to receive geo-targeted text messages in the event of an emergency, even if the internet is disrupted.”

“Between January 1, 2023, and January 1, 2024, 8,500 WEAs were issued by over 1,600 federal, State, local, tribal and territorial authorities and transmitted over PBS WARN throughout the country, demonstrating the importance of this lifesaving technology,” he wrote, referring to PBS’ Warning, Alert & Response Network.

Butler added that the technology can be used to communicate public safety messages for “flood control and evacuation, school shooting scenarios, large crowd management, over-water emergency communications and other lifesaving applications.” Other organizations public media has partnered with include the California Office of Emergency Services to reduce the early earthquake warning standard from 30 seconds to less than 3 seconds. Other state partners include Florida and Tennessee.

“We appreciate Chair Mark Amodei (R-NV), Ranking Member Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and the entire subcommittee’s continuing bipartisan support for the public safety work of local public television stations,” Butler said. “We look forward to working with the full House Appropriations Committee and all Members of Congress to ensure that this critical funding moves forward through the appropriations process.”

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