FCC Calls EAS Test A Success

The FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has published the initial results from its Sept. 28 nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS)—particularly a new online delivery component—and it boiled down to: shows improvement from the 2011 test but needs improvement.

The test was christened a success per the standard that the vast majority of participants successfully received (94%) and transmitted (82%) the warning code and, in comparison to the 2011 test, there was "significant improvement."

That included the 21,000-plus participants—TV and radio stations, cable and satellite providers, and others, which was a 26% increase from 2011. The 94% reception success rate was also a 12% improvement over 2011.

In the room for improvement department, there were problems with poor audio and with disability access.

The bureau had some recommendations for improvement, including requiring EAS participants to check for the internet feed warning when they get broadcast alert and transmit the "crystal clear" audio from the former's digital file.

It also suggested that it might resolve the disability access issues by holding EAS tests to the same accessibility rules as the actual alerts. The FCC also said it could help better centralize and standardize state EAS plans.

The FCC conceded that the test environment posed a low risk of cyberattacks and hacks, and that integrating basic cybersecurity guidelines into EAS equipment readiness rules could "harden" EAS against the threats posed to actual alerts.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.