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AMBER Alert, Best Practices Guide for Broadcasters and Other Media Outlets

Other Considerations

The broadcast media voluntarily provide their valuable air time to inform the public that a child has been abducted with the idea that such information is in the best interest of the community. In exchange for this assistance, broadcasters can reasonably expect that:

  • An Alert will be terminated as soon as it has been determined that the announcement is no longer needed.

  • An Alert will be issued based only on previously agreed-on criteria.

  • Contact between broadcasters and law enforcement officials will be continuous.

  • Law enforcement will be continuously accessible to broadcasters.

  • Law enforcement will respect the decision of broadcasters not to air, or to delay airing, AMBER Alerts because of factors such as the lack of proximity of the AMBER event to the station, the action of other stations in the market airing the Alert, and programming concerns (e.g., sensitivity to children who may be watching or listening; contractual obligations requiring the station to present certain programs, such as sports, uninterrupted; or staff availability).

  • The media will do its best to accommodate law enforcement requests for issuing AMBER Alerts, and the media and law enforcement will work out ways to air Alerts that do not conflict with contractual obligations (by using a crawl at the bottom of the screen, for example).

  • The Federal Communications Commission requires each station to retain decisionmaking authority over the material it airs.

Open lines of communication between broadcasters and law enforcement officials are crucial. The safe return of children must remain the paramount concern and focus.

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