Ridge calls for better system for public alert

The Homeland Security Department supports media companies' efforts to improve emergency warning methods, secretary Tom Ridge said last week.

Ridge promoted the idea of a warning system that would reach cell phones, pagers and other mobile communications systems. He spoke at the biannual meeting of the Media Security and Reliability Council at the Federal Communications Commission.

'The most important responsibility the government and media share during times of crisis is to ensure the safety and well-being of our citizens,' FCC chairman Michael Powell said.

Executives representing the radio, TV, cable and satellite industries said they have reviewed their emergency preparedness plans and identified areas for further industry and government action. The council called for a single federal entity to be responsible for public warning communications.

The nation needs 'an emergency alert system that communicates to telephones, wireless systems, pagers and the like,' he said. 'There are a lot of opportunities for a national system that would go into every office and school.'

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