FCC Updates EAS Standards

The FCC has established new standards for future tests of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) — FEMA has said it plans another test “in the near future,” says the FCC — or for use in an actual emergency. The FCC will give participants, which include broadcasters and MVPDs, up to 12 months to comply with location and event code standards, as NCTA and AT&T had requested, but only six months to comply with accessibility requirements. NCTA had argued that most EAS participants are already generally compliant with accessibility proposals

In a Report and Order released Wednesday, the FCC said the goal was to update the alerts, which are carried on broadcast, cable and other media, as network evolve to next gen technology.

The heart of the lengthy order, which stems in part from lessons learned in the first nationwide EAS test back in November 2011, includes:

1. Adopting six zeroes (000000) as the national location code.

2. Requiring all EAS participants, which include broadcasters and cable operators, to have equipment capable of processing a " National Periodic Test (NPT) event code for future nationwide EAS tests."

3. Requiring participants to file test data in an Electronic Test Report System (ETRS) the FCC says is designed to be "minimally burdensome."

4, Requiring participants to comply with minimum accessibility rules to make sure the EAS alerts are accessible to people with disabilities.

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.