"This is a test of the
Emergency Alert System -- this is only a test...."
is the new test script that you will occasionally hear
on your favorite broadcast station or your local cable
system. We say that the test script may only be heard
occasionally because the new Emergency Alert System (EAS) weekly test does not
require a test script. Instead the new weekly test
consists of an eight-second digital data signal. The
signal contains the information necessary to test the
EAS. There is also a monthly test that has a test
script. The monthly test script is developed locally and
usually contains information that is relevant to the
January 1, 1997, all AM, FM and TV broadcast
stations have been using the above test procedures.
Also, since December 31, 1998, cable systems that
have 10,000 or more subscribers are part of the EAS.
They are doing the above tests and have the capability
to transmit emergency messages on all of their video
are other important changes as well. The EAS uses
digital technology to distribute messages. This allows
for a lot of improvements in providing emergency
information to the public. The new system provides state
and local officials with a new method to quickly send
out important local emergency information targeted to a
specific area. The information can be sent out through a
broadcast station and cable system even if those
facilities are unattended. Also, the EAS digital signal
is the same signal that the National Weather Service (NWS)
uses on NOAA Weather Radio (NWR). This allows NWR
signals to be decoded by the EAS equipment at broadcast
stations and cable systems. Broadcasters and cable
operators can then retransmit NWS weather warning
messages almost immediately to their audiences.
specially equipped consumer products, such as
televisions, radios, pagers and other devices, can
decode EAS messages. The consumer can program these
products to "turn themselves on" for the messages they
want to receive.
HAVE AN EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM?
EAS is designed to provide the President with a means to
address the American people in the event of a national
emergency. Through the EAS, the President would have
access to thousands of broadcast stations, cable systems
and participating satellite programmers to transmit a
message to the public. The EAS and its predecessors,
CONELRAD and the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), have
never been activated for this purpose. But beginning in
1963, the President permitted state and local level
emergency information to be transmitted using the EBS.
DOES THE NEW EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM MEAN FOR YOU?
EAS digital system architecture allows broadcast
stations, cable systems, participating satellite
companies, and other services to send and receive
emergency information quickly and automatically even
if those facilities are unattended.
The EAS requires
monitoring of at least two independent sources for
emergency information. This insures that emergency
information is received and delivered to viewers and
tests are shorter and less obtrusive to viewers and
listeners. Therefore, when people do hear or see the
EAS messages, they will take them more seriously.
you or someone you know watch Spanish-language
programming? EAS digital messages can be
automatically converted into any language used by
the broadcast station or cable system.
MAKES THE EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM WORK?
FCC designed the new EAS, working in a cooperative
arrangement with the broadcast, cable, emergency
management, alerting equipment industry, the National
Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management
IS THE ROLE OF EACH OF THESE AGENCIES?
The FCC provides
information to broadcasters, cable system operators, and
other participants in the EAS regarding the requirements
of this emergency system. Additionally, the FCC will
ensure that EAS state and local plans developed by
industry conform to the FCC EAS rules and regulations
and enhance the national level EAS structure.
NWS provides emergency
weather information used to alert the public of
dangerous conditions. Over seventy percent of all EAS
and EBS activations were a result of natural disasters
and were weather related. Linking NOAA Weather Radio
digital signaling with the EAS digital signaling will
help NWS save lives by reaching more people with timely,
site-specific weather warnings.
FEMA provides direction for state and local emergency
planning officials to plan and implement their roles in
CAN YOU GET MORE INFORMATION?
Consumers, broadcasters, organizations, or other service
providers who want to understand the new EAS can
The FCC provides a toll-free number that provides
information on a wide variety of subjects, including the
EAS. The number is 1-888-CALL FCC [1-888-225-5322]. The
toll-free TTY number is 1-888-TELL FCC [1-888-835-5322].
Contact Herbert White (301)
713-0090 extension 146.
Contact Don Jacks (202) 646