The FCC earlier last week posted on its blog an article from the chief of its Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau about state EAS plans, stressing how important these plans are to making sure that any emergency message conveyed through an EAS alert is properly transmitted to all who are supposed to receive it, so that it ultimately reaches the members of the public who should be aware of the emergency situation which triggered the alert. The article contains a link to all of the state EAS plans that have been submitted to and approved by the FCC. Is your station doing what it’s supposed to be doing?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has scheduled the next nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System for Aug. 7 at 2:20 p.m. FEMA says this year’s test will differ from the nationwide tests that have been conducted over the past several years in that it will be issued through the National Public Warning System, composed of FEMA-designated Primary Entry Point facilities, to test the readiness of the EAS to function in the absence of internet connectivity.
Lisa M. Fowlkes, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, says broadcasters play a vital role during emergencies and the public relies on them to stay informed, find resources and stay safe. “To continue fulfilling this important mission, broadcasters must ensure that their systems are secure and reliable. Here are some best practices to help.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the FCC, announced Monday morning that the National Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts tests scheduled for this Thursday, Sept. 20, have been postponed due to “ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence.”
The FCC and FEMA have established Sept. 20 as the date for the next nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System. The nationwide test is designed to study the effectiveness of the EAS and to monitor the performance of EAS participants. The Wireless Emergency Alert system will be tested immediately prior to the test of the EAS. While the test itself is a month away, all EAS participants must file their Form One with the FCC by Aug. 27 in preparation for the test.
Public interest group MMTC had petitioned the US Court of Appeals for a rehearing on its decision upholding the FCC decision deciding not to impose any multilingual EAS obligations on broadcasters. The full Court of Appeals has just issued a one sentence order denying that reconsideration request. While, theoretically, MMTC’s next appeal would be to the Supreme Court, lacking an issue of major significance or constitutional importance, that is unlikely.
The false alert of a nuclear attack on Hawaii is an inexcusable, but hardly isolated example of the fragility and fragmentation of America’s emergency alerting system. As natural and manmade threats persist and increase, it is clear that our alerting system is not up to the task of serving the mobile and connected America of the 21st Century.