• Stations Should Prepare Now For the Upcoming Test of the National Emergency Alert System
  • November 4, 2011
  • Law Firm: Lerman Senter PLLC - Washington Office
  • On Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at approximately 2:00 p.m. ET, the FCC, in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”), will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (“EAS”).  Every broadcast station that participates in the EAS network must take part in this national test.  The FCC has prepared a handbook describing the nationwide test. The handbook contains important reminders, including the requirement that a copy of the EAS test handbook be posted at normal duty stations or EAS equipment locations and made immediately available to staff responsible for participation in the November 9 test.

    Because each station must report information about its participation in the test to the FCC, as described below, we strongly recommend that you share this memo and copy the EAS test handbook for distribution and review among relevant personnel.

    Test Procedures

    When the test commences, FEMA will transmit the national level emergency EAS code to Primary Entry Point (“PEP”) stations at the national level of the EAS.  Each PEP station must rebroadcast the alert to the general public in its service area and to the next level of EAS participating stations which monitor that PEP station.  The process will continue through all levels of the EAS until the alert has been distributed nationwide.  The test will last for approximately three and a half minutes.

    Reporting Requirement

    The FCC has established an electronic filing system that EAS participants may use to submit the required information.  The FCC strongly encourages stations to pre-register basic background information about each participating station beginning now, in advance of the actual test.  The FCC also asks that stations report immediately following the test on November 9 whether the EAS test message was received and whether it was broadcast by the station.  Additional information about each station’s performance during the test must also be reported, not later than December 27, 2011.

    By December 27, 2011, each EAS participating station must report the following information to the FCC about the national test:

    • whether the station received the alert message and whether it properly retransmitted the alert;

    • for any station not able to receive and/or transmit the alert, a “best effort” diagnostic analysis regarding the cause(s) for such failure;

    • the EAS participant’s station identification and level of designation;

    • the date/time of receipt of the Emergency Alert Notification (“EAN”) message by the station;

    • the date/time of PEP station acknowledgement of receipt of the EAN message to the FEMA Operation Center (if applicable);

    • the date/time of initiation of actual broadcast of the test “Presidential” message;

    • the date/time of receipt of the End of Message by the station;

    • the identity of the station(s) the EAS participant was monitoring at the time of the test; and

    • the make and model number of the EAS equipment used by the EAS participant.

    The FCC has also established a website dedicated to the nationwide EAS test that contains other important information and resources, such as PSAs that stations can use to inform their audience in advance of the test.