Walden Schedules Nov. 17 Briefing on Emergency Alert Test

House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) wants to know just what went wrong with last week's Nov. 9 test of the national Emergency Alert System (EAS).

He has scheduled a Nov. 17 bipartisan members briefing with representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission to review the test results and talk about ways to improve the process.

"By many accounts, last week's test had major problems," Rep. Walden said. "In my home state of Oregon, most -- if not all -- stations didn't even receive the signal. Soon afterward, I contacted FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and FEMA to request a briefing for the subcommittee's members.

While local and regional tests of the annoying tone and "this is only a test" message are familiar periodic occurrences, a national test of the alert, which is supposed to allow the President to address the nation in times of national emergency, has never been conducted, something Admiral James Barnett, chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, reportedly wanted to rectify.

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.