Yesterday, the FCC scheduled the 2019 Emergency Alert System (EAS) nationwide test for Wednesday, August 7, 2019, at 2:20 p.m. EDT. The test’s backup date will be August 21, 2019. All CATV companies must participate in this test. Prior to the test, by July 3, 2019, companies must review and update their EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) information on Form One.

This year’s test will be slightly different from previous national tests. The 2019 test will not use the internet to distribute the EAS message, only the broadcast, daisy-chain system will be used. This makes it more important to validate that you are using the proper EAS stations to perform the test. Companies should validate the stations by checking their state EAS plans. Monitoring the wrong station could result in a test failure.

To ensure compliance, companies should:

  • Confirm that a copy of the EAS Operating Handbook is located at normal duty positions, or EAS equipment locations, and is otherwise immediately available to operators;
  • Review the EAS Operating Handbook for the actions to be taken by operators upon receipt of the test alert, and tailor any actions as necessary that are specific to the EAS participants’ facilities;
  • Review their State EAS Plan for monitoring assignments, and ensure that EAS equipment is accurately configured to monitor those sources;
  • Confirm that EAS equipment can receive and process the national periodic test (NPT) code, the “six zeroes” national location code, and otherwise operate in compliance with the Commission rules;
  • Upgrade EAS equipment software and firmware to the most recent version;
  • Manually synchronize EAS equipment clocks to the official time provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) if the equipment does not automatically synchronize to an Internet time source; and
  • Review their 2018 ETRS Form One filings to identify and make necessary updates to the information previously provided (see below for more information on ETRS).

Companies should act now to validate the correct source of the EAS message, ensure the most recent software is installed, and renew the ETRS access. The ETRS is now open for companies update their Form One information.

For those companies that have shut down their CATV systems, they must make sure their information is removed from the ETRS. If you have moved to an IP program provider, check with your provider to determine which party is filing the EAS test.

On the day of the test, August 7, companies must file their test results on Form Two prior to 11:59 p.m. EST on the ETRS. On or before September 23, 2019, recipients must file the detailed post-test data sought by ETRS on Form Three.

The 2019 dates to remember are:

July 3 – Deadline to renew identifying information on Form One
August 7 at 2:20 p.m. EDT – Nationwide “Day of Test”
August 7 by 11:59 p.m. EDT – Submit the success or failure of the test on Form Two
August 21 – Back-up date for nationwide test if the August 7 test is rescheduled
September 23 – Deadline to complete Form Three with the detailed post-test data

If you have questions about the EAS National Test, please contact Kim Waldvogel or Valerie Wimer in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590. We will again be assisting clients with the ETRS submissions. If you need help with the Form One, Two or Three, please contact us well ahead of the deadline and test dates.