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Emergency Broadcasting System Bill


Emergency Broadcasting System Bill

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A

Bill

To

Require the Secretary of State to co-ordinate the provision of a multi-media

broadcasting system to provide information to the public about emergencies

and potential emergencies.                                                                            

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and

consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present

Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

 1     Principal duty of the Secretary of State

     (1)    It shall be the principal duty of the Secretary of State under this Act to co-

ordinate the provision of a multi-media broadcasting system to provide

information to the public about emergencies and potential emergencies.

     (2)    The system secured as a result of the exercise by the Secretary of State of his

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functions under this Act shall be known as the “emergency broadcasting

system”.

 2     Meaning of “emergencies and potential emergencies”

     (1)    For the purposes of this Act the term “emergencies and potential emergencies”

means—

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           (a)           any period during which a proclamation of emergency is in force under

section 1 of the Emergency Powers Act 1920 (c. 55) (issue of

proclamations of emergency); or

           (b)           an event or situation which presents a serious threat to—

                  (i)                 the welfare of all or part of the population of the United

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Kingdom or of a Part or region,

                  (ii)                the environment of the United Kingdom or of a Part or region,

                  (iii)               the political, administrative or economic stability of the United

Kingdom or of a Part or region, or

                  (iv)                the security of the United Kingdom or of a Part or region.

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     (2)    For the purposes of subsection (1)(b)(i) an event or situation presents a threat

to the welfare of a population if, in particular, it involves, causes or may

cause—

 
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Emergency Broadcasting System Bill

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           (a)           loss of human life,

           (b)           human illness or injury,

           (c)           homelessness,

           (d)           damage to property,

           (e)           disruption of a supply of food, water, energy, fuel or another essential

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commodity,

           (f)           disruption of an electronic or other system of communication,

           (g)           disruption of facilities for transport, or

           (h)           disruption of medical, educational or other essential services.

     (3)    For the purposes of subsection (1)(b)(ii) an event or situation presents a threat

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to the environment, if, in particular, it involves, causes or may cause—

           (a)           contamination of land, water or air with—

                  (i)                 harmful biological, chemical or radioactive matter, or

                  (ii)                fuel oils,

           (b)           flooding, or

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           (c)           disruption or destruction of plant life or animal life.

     (4)    For the purposes of subsection (1)(b)(iii) an event or situation presents a threat

to political, administrative or economic stability if, in particular, it causes or

may cause disruption of—

           (a)           the activities of Her Majesty’s Government,

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           (b)           the performance of public functions, or

           (c)           the activities of banks or other financial institutions.

     (5)    For the purposes of subsection (1)(b)(iv) the following, in particular, present a

threat to security—

           (a)           war or armed conflict, and

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           (b)           terrorism, within the meaning given by section 1 of the Terrorism Act

2000 (c. 11) (terrorism: interpretation).

     (6)    In this section—

                    “Part” in relation to the United Kingdom means—

                  (a)                 England,

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                  (b)                 Northern Ireland,

                  (c)                 Scotland, and

                  (d)                 Wales;

                    “public functions” means—

                  (a)                 functions conferred or imposed by or by virtue of an enactment,

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                  (b)                 functions of Ministers of the Crown (or their departments),

                  (c)                 functions of persons holding office under the Crown,

                  (d)                 functions of the Scottish Parliament or the Scottish Ministers,

                  (e)                 functions of the Northern Ireland Assembly, of the Northern

Ireland Ministers or of the Northern Ireland departments, and

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                  (f)                 functions of the National Assembly for Wales; and

                    “region” means a region for the purposes of the Regional Development

Agencies Act 1998 (c. 45).

     (7)    The event or situation mentioned in subsection (1)(b) may occur or be inside or

outside the United Kingdom.

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 3     Communications providers to whom emergency broadcasting system applies

     (1)    The Secretary of State may make arrangements or require the Office of

Communications (hereafter “OFCOM”) to make arrangements for the

participation of any communications provider designated in subsections (2) to

(4) in the emergency broadcasting system.

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     (2)    The provider of any—

           (a)           radio programme service,

           (b)           television programme service, or

           (c)           text service

            is designated in this subsection.

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     (3)    The British Broadcasting Corporation and the Welsh Authority are designated

in this subsection.

     (4)    The provider of any electronic communications network, electronic

communications service or associated facility who is subject to conditions in

accordance with the provisions of section 43 of the Communications Act 2003

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(c. 00) (persons to whom conditions may apply) is designated in this

subsection.

     (5)    Any communications provider designated in accordance with the provisions

of subsections (2) to (4) (hereafter “designated communications providers”)

shall be informed as soon as practicable by OFCOM in writing that they have

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been so designated.

     (6)    The terms used in subsections (2) and (3) shall have the same meanings as in

Part 3 of the Communications Act 2003.

     (7)    The terms used in subsection (4) shall have the same meanings as in Chapter 1

of Part 2 of that Act.

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 4     Preparation of plan

     (1)    It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State, within a period of six months of the

coming into force of this Act, to lay before Parliament and publish a plan

setting out how he proposes to fulfil his functions under this Act.

     (2)    The Secretary of State may from time to time thereafter lay before Parliament

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and publish a revised plan.

     (3)    Before publishing a plan under subsections (1) or (2) the Secretary of State—

           (a)           must consult the persons specified in or under subsection (4), and

           (b)           may consult such other persons as he considers appropriate

            about the proposed contents of the plan.

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     (4)    The persons specified in or under this subsection are—

           (a)           relevant authorities as defined in section 5;

           (b)           chief officers of police;

           (c)           fire authorities;

           (d)           NHS ambulance bodies;

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           (e)           the Environment Agency;

           (f)           OFCOM; and

           (g)           designated communications providers who are, in the opinion of

OFCOM, likely to be significantly affected by the implementation of the

 

 

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plan and who have been so specified for the purposes of this subsection

by OFCOM.

 5     Function and meaning of relevant authority

     (1)    It shall be the duty of each relevant authority to designate at least one member

of staff of that authority to exercise the function under section 6(3) in respect of

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that authority.

     (2)    As soon as practicable after designating a person for the purpose of subsection

(1), the relevant authority shall inform the Secretary of State of the name of, and

the staff position held by, the person so designated.

     (3)    In England, a “relevant authority” means—

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           (a)           a county council,

           (b)           a district council,

           (c)           a London borough council,

           (d)           the Common Council of the City of London, and

           (e)           the Council of the Isles of Scilly.

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     (4)    In Wales, a “relevant authority” means—

           (a)           a county council, and

           (b)           a county borough council.

     (5)    In Scotland, a “relevant authority” means a local council within the meaning of

section 1 of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 (c. 39) (local

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government areas in Scotland).

     (6)    In Northern Ireland, the “relevant authority” means the Northern Ireland

Minister with responsibility for services similar to those provided by a county

council in England.

     (7)    In this section “Northern Ireland Minister” includes the First Minister, the

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deputy First Minister and a Northern Ireland department.

 6     Circumstances where notice may be given

     (1)    Where any one of the conditions set out in subsections (2) to (5) is met, the

Secretary of State may by notice require OFCOM to give a direction under

section 7.

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     (2)    The condition set out in this subsection is that the Secretary of State is satisfied

that there is an emergency or potential emergency in respect of which use of

the emergency broadcasting system would be of public benefit.

     (3)    The condition set out in this subsection is that it has been represented to the

Secretary of State by—

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           (a)           a chief officer of police, or

           (b)           a person designated by a relevant authority in accordance with the

provisions of section 5(1)

            that there is an emergency or potential emergency in respect of which use of

the emergency broadcasting system would be of public benefit and the

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Secretary of State does not have good reason not to accept that representation.

     (4)    The condition set out in this subsection is that the Secretary of State considers

it desirable for certain actions to be undertaken to assist in the development of

 

 

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the emergency broadcasting system and has previously consulted OFCOM

with regard to the extent and the timing of those actions.

     (5)    The condition set out in this subsection is that the Secretary of State considers

it desirable to test the functioning of the emergency broadcasting system and

has previously consulted OFCOM with regard to the extent and the timing of

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the tests.

 7     Scope and effect of notices and directions

     (1)    Where any one of the conditions set out in section 6 is met, the Secretary of

State may by notice require OFCOM to give a direction under this section.

     (2)    A notice under subsection (1) shall be given in writing.

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     (3)    A direction under this section is a direction to a designated communications

provider who is specified in the direction to do the things specified in the

direction.

     (4)    The things to be done specified in the direction may include the transmission

or conveyance of—

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           (a)           any content prepared in accordance with the provisions of section 8;

           (b)           any content which is information or advice—

                  (i)                 which is of value to members of the public following the

occurrence of an event or during the existence of a situation

falling within the terms of section 2(1), and

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                  (ii)                which complies with the requirement in section 8(5); or

           (c)           any signal to be transmitted or conveyed for the purposes of section

8(3).

     (5)    The direction may specify the times at which the things to be done are to be

done.

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     (6)    The direction may specify the area in respect of which the content or signals or

both specified in the direction are to be transmitted or conveyed.

     (7)    Where a communications provider does anything in pursuance of a direction

under this section, he may, subject to any restriction contained in the direction,

announce that he is doing so in pursuance of such a direction.

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     (8)    Subject to—

           (a)           OFCOM being satisfied that the conditions mentioned in subsection

(4)(b) are met in any relevant case, and

           (b)           subsection (9)

            OFCOM must comply with every requirement contained in a notice under this

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section.

     (9)    Subsection (8) does not impose any obligation on OFCOM to comply with any

requirement, or any part thereof, to be placed upon the provider of any

electronic communications network, electronic communications service or

associated facility in relation to which OFCOM are satisfied that imposition of

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the requirement, or any part thereof, would fall outside the terms of the general

conditions specified in section 48 of the Communications Act 2003 (c. 00)

(matters to which general conditions may relate).

     (10)   Where OFCOM are of the opinion that, in accordance with the provisions of

subsection (9), they may not place a requirement, or any part thereof, upon the

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provider of any electronic communications network, electronic

communications service or associated facility, OFCOM shall make a request to

the provider concerned in the same terms as the requirement contained in the

relevant notice.

     (11)   In this section “signal” includes—

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           (a)           anything comprising speech, music, sounds, visual images or

communications or data of any description; and

           (b)           signals serving for the impartation of anything between persons,

between a person and a thing or between things, or for the actuation or

control of apparatus.

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 8     Advance preparation of content to be transmitted or conveyed

     (1)    It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to create, or secure the creation of,

content to be transmitted or conveyed by means of the emergency

broadcasting system in accordance with the provisions of subsections (2) to (6).

     (2)    The content to be created in accordance with this subsection is factual

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information relating to the purposes and operation of the emergency

broadcasting system.

     (3)    The content to be created in accordance with this subsection is any signal to be

transmitted or conveyed to signify the occurrence of an event or the existence

of a situation falling within the terms of section 2(1).

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     (4)    The content to be created in accordance with this subsection is any information

or advice which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, would be of value to

members of the public following the occurrence of an event or during the

existence of a situation falling within the terms of section 2(1).

     (5)    The Secretary of State shall ensure that content created in accordance with this

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section is prepared and presented with due impartiality.

     (6)    Wherever practicable, the Secretary of State shall consult OFCOM about the

preparation of content for the purposes of this section.

     (7)    In this section “signal” shall have the same meaning as in section 7(11).

 9     Promotion of awareness of emergency broadcasting system

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     (1)    The Secretary of State may take such actions as he considers appropriate to

promote public awareness of the purposes and operation of the emergency

broadcasting system.

     (2)    In particular, he may arrange for the use of advertising to promote awareness

of—

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           (a)           the circumstances in which the system may be used, and

           (b)           the content that may be conveyed or transmitted using the system.

 10    Reports and accountability

     (1)    The Secretary of State must prepare and lay before Parliament regular reports

on the operation of this Act.

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     (2)    The first report under this section must relate to the period which—

           (a)           begins with the date on which this Act comes into force; and

 

 

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           (b)           ends with 31st March 2004.

     (3)    Every subsequent report must relate to the period of twelve months beginning

with the end of the period to which the previous report related.

     (4)    The obligation under this section to prepare and lay a report before Parliament

is an obligation to do that as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of the

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period to which the report relates.

     (5)    On each occasion where the Secretary of State issues a notice under section 7

(other than an occasion where only a condition mentioned in section 6(4) or (5)

was met) he shall, as soon as practicable thereafter, lay a statement before

Parliament.

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     (6)    A statement under subsection (5) shall summarise—

           (a)           the condition under section 6 that was met;

           (b)           the emergency or potential emergency to which the condition related;

and

           (c)           the terms of the notice given to OFCOM under section 7.

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 11    Reimbursement of direct costs

     (1)    OFCOM shall prepare for each relevant period a statement of the direct costs

incurred—

           (a)           by them under this Act, and

           (b)           by designated communications providers in the development, testing

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and operation of the emergency broadcasting system.

     (2)    The first relevant period under this section—

           (a)           begins with the date on which this Act comes into force; and

           (b)           ends with 31st March 2004.

     (3)    Every subsequent relevant period is the period of twelve months beginning

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with the end of the period to which the previous statement related.

     (4)    OFCOM may require designated communications providers to provide them

with such information as they consider relevant to the preparation of a

statement under subsection (1).

     (5)    The Secretary of State may, with the consent of the Treasury, make grants to OFCOM

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of such sums as are specified in a statement prepared under subsection (1).

     (6)    Grants under this section shall be paid out of money provided by Parliament.

     (7)    Except as provided for in subsection (8), OFCOM shall distribute sums

received by them in accordance with subsection (5) to designated

communications providers to meet the direct costs duly incurred by those

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providers and set out in a statement under subsection (1).

     (8)    OFCOM may retain sums received by them in accordance with subsection (5)

to meet the direct costs duly incurred by them and set out in a statement under

subsection (1).

     (9)    In this section “direct costs” do not include any advertising revenue or any

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other income lost or foregone by a designated communications provider as a

result of the development, testing and operation of the emergency

broadcasting system.

 

 

 
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