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Weather Network named weather alert agency

The federal broadcasting regulator has named the owner of The Weather Network and MeteoMedia weather channels as Canada’s national emergency weather alert provider.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) last week designated Oakville, Ont.-based Pelmorex as Canada’s “national emergency alert aggregator and distributor” for the next five years.

The CRTC’s decision follows a February 2007 ruling that removed regulatory obstacles on the provision of emergency alerts to Canadians. The ruling allowed for the CRTC to take “additional measures” if a voluntary approach was found to be inadequate in providing Canadians with “timely warnings of imminent perils.”

“In our 2007 decision, we gave two years to the industry to come up with a solution,” CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein said in a release Thursday.

However, he said, “while the industry made progress in developing specifications and standards, no national emergency alert aggregator has been identified or established.”

Last week’s decision, which follows public hearings in March and April, “in no way impedes the efforts of federal, provincial and municipal governments to implement a national public alerting system, but rather complements their efforts,” the CRTC said.

Pelmorex, in its application, 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 CRTC said. “The national reach of the emergency alerting system will ensure the quick delivery of important safety messages to Canadians.”

The CRTC said it 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 MeteoMedia.

Cable and satellite companies will be required to carry the two channels from Sept. 1, 2010, to Aug. 31, 2015. Afterward, The Weather Network and MeteoMedia will have to submit a new application to the commission.

Pelmorex also recently announced that it would expand its All Channel Alert service onto the Twitter social networking service. The company already offers a free WeatherEye application for use on the iPhone or BlackBerry.

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