Ridge open to heading media emergency planning


Secretary of homeland security Tom Ridge Tuesday welcomed media executives'
call for his agency to take a lead role in coordinating their companies' emergency
communications planning with federal, state and local officials.

Establishing a lead federal agency as the focal point of media and government
planning for terrorist or other disasters is a central tenet of recommendations
unveiled by an industry council established by the Federal Communications
Commission in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The ultimate aim of the council is to design a game plan that will ensure
that mass communications remain in operation during large-scale emergencies.

"The media during times of crisis is a critical part of what we do," Ridge
told executives from more than 40 broadcast, cable and satellite companies, as
well as government and public-safety officials participating in the Media
Security and Reliability Council.

The council recommended "best practices" for media companies to follow during
crises and drew up a game plan for eliminating physical vulnerabilities of
transmission towers, cable headends and other parts of communications

The two sets of recommendations were unveiled with up or down votes from
participating companies on the slate of ideas due June 18.

A final version of the guidelines is expected in December.