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Relaying of emergency alerts to be mandatory for broadcasters: CRTC

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OTTAWA - Canada's broadcast regulator is making it mandatory for radio and television broadcasters and others in the industry to relay emergency messages from official sources.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said Friday that it was acting to ensure that, in the event of an emergency situation, Canadians receive timely warnings over the radio and through their televisions.

"Cable and satellite companies, radio stations, over-the-air television stations and video-on-demand services must begin issuing such messages by March 31, 2015," the CRTC said in a statement.

"Campus, community-based and native broadcasters have until March 31, 2016, to comply with this new requirement."

Currently, participation in the National Public Alerting System is voluntary.

The CRTC did not say in its statement whether there had been any problems with the voluntary system.

Emergency alert messages are issued by emergency management officials such as fire marshals, police officers and public health personnel to warn the public of dangers to life and property.

These could include Amber Alerts for missing persons as well as warnings of tornadoes, forest fires, floods, water contamination and industrial disasters.

"During an emergency situation, important information can be relayed quickly to Canadians over the radio and through their televisions," CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said.

"We are making sure that broadcasters and television service providers play their part in improving the security and safety of Canadians. Today's decision ensures that Canadians will have access to important local safety messages when these notifications are issued by authorities."

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