Commerce OKs Pan-Media Alert


Helped by concerns over Hurricane Katrina communications, the Senate Commerce Committee passed the WARN Act (Warning, Alert and Reponse Network), which will create an emergency warning system that includes a variety of new media, from BlackBerrys and cell phones to satellite, cable and broadcast elements.

It will be funded by $250 million from the auction of broadcasters' analog spectrum after the switch to digital, including $50 million for a tsunami warning system.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, for one, said during congressional hearings on Katrina response last month that such a system that encorporated satellite, wireless and other technologies was necessary, a sentiment that seemed universally shared by the legislators.