Broadcaster

Ontario broadcasters launch "Amber Alert" program

4/21/2003

Toronto, – The Ontario Association of Broadcasters (OAB) has entered into an agreement with the Ontario Provincial Police Service (OPP) to spearhead the co-ordination and implementation of the "Amber Alert" program on all radio and television stations across the province.

Presently the Amber Alert program is operating in 37 U.S. states and the Province of Alberta. A bill in the U.S. to establish the Amber Alert program as a nationwide service has received both senate and congressional approval and is currently waiting presidential confirmation. Province wide implementation of Ontario's Amber Alert program is imminent.

The OAB has established a committee made up of news directors from both radio and television stations representing various Ontario communities (both large and small) to review the existing procedures and policies of other Amber Alert programs in North America and to establish the operational guidelines of the Ontario program. The OPP will work with this committee to ensure that the program will provide the necessary support and assistance to police organizations that has proven to be of critical importance in the locating and recovery of abducted children.

Nancy Brown–Dacko, president of the OAB says, "The OAB's mandate to represent the broadcasters of Ontario in matters of mutual interest is ideally suited to bring the concept of the Amber Alert to reality across the province in a consistent and effective template. We look forward to introducing this valuable community service in a unified manner across Ontario."

Initially prompted by citizen concerns following the tragic 1996 kidnapping and murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman in Arlington, Texas the concept has been embraced by all segments of society.

The Amber Alert is a critical missing child response program that utilizes the resources of law enforcement and media to notify the public when children are kidnapped by predators. Law enforcement activates an Amber Alert by notifying broadcast media with relevant identifying and case information when circumstances meet the following criteria:
 The missing child is of a pre-determined age;
 The law enforcement agency believes the child has been kidnapped;
 The agency believes the missing child is under threat of serious bodily harm or death.

Once they receive the Amber Alert radio and television stations interrupt regularly scheduled programming to notify the public that a child has been kidnapped. Because 95% of all people driving in their cars listen to the radio, this is an extremely effective way of providing descriptions of the child, the kidnapper, vehicles or accomplices.

The Ontario Association of Broadcasters represents the majority of radio and television stations in Ontario on a local, regional, provincial and national basis. From dealing with government actions that impact the broadcasting industry, to professional development and recognition and providing industry resources, the OAB has worked on behalf of its member stations since its original inception in 1950. For further information visit www.oab.ca

For more information on the Amber Alert program please contact:

Paul Larche, president, CIZX - FM, Midland, Ont. 705-526-2268
email: plarche@kicxfm.com

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