The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today issued a decision that will allow Canadians to receive emergency alerts. As an enhancement to its existing services, Pelmorex Communications Inc. (Pelmorex), the owner of The Weather Network and MétéoMédia, will make emergency alerts available to broadcasters across the country.
The Commission recognizes that The Weather Network and MétéoMédia make a unique contribution to public safety and are exceptionally important to the achievement of Canada’s broadcasting policy.
In a decision dated February 28, 2007, the Commission removed regulatory obstacles to the provision of emergency alerts to Canadians. It stated that if, in two years’ time, it became apparent that a voluntary approach is not adequate, it might consider additional measures to ensure that Canadians receive timely warnings of imminent perils.
“In our 2007 decision, we gave two years to the industry to come up with a solution”, said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “While the industry made progress in developing specifications and standards, no national emergency alert aggregator has been identified or established. Consequently, we are living up to our promise and are designating Pelmorex as the national emergency alert aggregator and distributor”.
Today’s decision in no way impedes the efforts of federal, provincial and municipal governments to implement a national public alerting system, but rather complements their efforts.
In its application, Pelmorex proposed to act as the national aggregator for emergency alerts issued by municipal, provincial and federal authorities. The alerts would be made available to participating cable and satellite systems, television and radio broadcasters, and other media outlets. When there is an alert, programming would be interrupted in order to relay messages to Canadians. The national reach of the emergency alerting system will ensure the quick delivery of important safety
messages to Canadians.
The Commission will review the company’s progress in implementing the emergency alerting system next year, at the same time as it considers the licence renewal applications for The Weather Network and MétéoMédia. Cable and satellite companies will have to carry these channels from September 1, 2010, to August 31, 2015. Afterwards, The Weather Network and MétéoMédia will have to submit a new application to the Commission.
Today’s decision follows a public process that included a public hearing, which was held from March 31, 2009 to April 3, 2009.
Broadcasting Order CRTC 2009-340