On Monday, the FCC announced via a Public Notice that the next national Emergency Alert System (EAS) test will be on September 27, 2017. The Commission also updated some procedures for the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS). Similar to last year, video and cable TV providers must ensure their company’s basic information (Form One) is in the ETRS. On the day of the test, companies will use Form Two to validate that they received the test signal and successfully retransmitted the signal to customers. Lastly, all companies must complete Form Three, which gathers specific information on the test.

The dates to remember are:

August 28, 2017 – Deadline to renew identifying information on Form One
September 27, 2017 at 2:20 p.m. EDT – Nationwide “Day of Test”
September 27, 2017 by 11:59 p.m. EDT – Submit the success or failure of the test on Form Two
October 4, 2017 – Back-up date for nationwide test if the September 27 test is rescheduled
November 13, 2017 – Deadline to complete Form Three with the detailed post-test data

There are some updates since last year. JSI has tested the system with the FCC so we are familiar with the changes and can help clients.

First, the FCC has updated the EAS Operations Handbook that must be located at the operator location. All companies will need to update their EAS handbooks accordingly. The updated handbook must include actions to be taken specific to your EAS equipment and to your state EAS plan. The FCC has provided a writeable PDF version of the handbook.

Secondly, all ETRS users must create usernames within the User Registration System, then associate your company’s FRN(s) to that username. This is so that the FCC can more easily track all companies’ FCC filings. You may use the same username your company uses for other FCC online filings.

Once you log in, your company’s Form One information from last year should be pre-populated in the ETRS. Any information populated from last year’s Form One can be edited or updated in the profile update. However, some information is pre-populated (county, legal name, and date of licenses) from your cable system information as registered in the FCC Cable Operations and Licensing System (COALS) and cannot be edited in the ETRS. Therefore, it is important that your cable communities registered in COALS are accurate.

The last major change in 2017 is that questions on Forms Two and Three have been modified from last year.

The FCC will be looking to see if common failures from the 2016 test have been resolved such as:

  • Ensure that EAS equipment operates in compliance with the Commission rules, such as receiving and processing the national periodic test code and the national “six zeroes” national location code.
  • Ensuring that EAS equipment software and firmware are the most current version. If they are not the new Spanish language alerts may not be received.
  • Correct any failures that may have happened on your system in 2016.
  • Manually synchronize the EAS equipment clocks to the official time provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology if the EAS equipment does not update automatically.

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. Please contact Valerie Wimer in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590 if you have any questions concerning the national EAS test.