Missing-child alert added to EAS


A new child-abduction emergency code has been added to the Emergency Alert System operated by broadcasters and cable systems, the Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday.

The code was one of several added to the EAS system.

The abduction alert can activate local AMBER plans -- voluntary partnerships
between law-enforcement agencies and the media to alert the public quickly when
police believe a missing child is in danger.

Until now, AMBER plans have been activated by the Civil Emergency Message
code, a practice that can lead to confusion over the nature of the alert.

Broadcast stations and cable systems are now permitted to modify their
existing EAS equipment, but they are not required to do so.

New equipment installed after Feb. 1, 2004, however, must be capable of
receiving the new codes.

Other new codes include watches and warnings for avalanches, coastal floods,
dust storms, earthquakes, volcanoes and fires.

Other EAS changes include exempting satellite and repeater stations from EAS -equipment installation if they rebroadcast 100 percent of their hub stations'

Low-power FM stations will be exempt from installing EAS decoders until one
year after decoders became available.