In testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and
Government Information, National Association of Broadcasters president Eddie
Fritts Wednesday threw broadcasters' support squarely behind a new bill to institute
a national AMBER Alert system and to fund local efforts.
The alert mobilizes a media/law-enforcement partnership to issue bulletins in
the critical first hours following a child abduction.
Saying that good bills can go bad through poor implementation, Fritts pointed
to three principals that should guide the new bill:
- Broadcasters are crucial to disseminating the information.
- The plan should remain voluntary and flexible.
- It should be triggered only in cases where there is "imminent threat of
Fritts pledged to work closely with the Hill to move the bill through
committee and Congress.
In response to Fritts' testimony, hearing chairman Sen. Diane Feinstein
(D-Calif.) said broadcasters are vital to the AMBER effort. "It is so important
that your participation is as eager and as sensitive as it is," she said.
Also testifying at the hearing was Sharon Timmons of Riverside, Calif.,
accompanied by her daughter, Nicole. Nicole had been abducted by their gardener
and recovered within hours after an AMBER alert. "My life would not be the same
without the AMBER plan," she told the committee.