FCC Sets New Rules for EAS Reporting and National Testing

Video and cable TV providers should be aware that the new Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules issued on June 3, 2015, go into effect at the end of July now that they have been published in the Federal Register. The FCC’s Sixth Report and Order are in response to the deficiencies of the first nationwide EAS test conducted on November 9, 2011. The new rules establish a new national location code, a new national periodic test event code, a new EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS), and minimum accessibility rules for visual EAS messages.

National Location Code: The rules introduce a new code, “six zeros” or 000000, to ensure national messages can be properly identified and handled in the EAS system. This code will be added to the EAS location map in the state EAS plans. The Order reports that EAS equipment can already handle this national code.

National Periodic Test (NPT) event code: The FCC also added a new NPT event code, which manufacturers claim most EAS equipment can currently handle. However, some cable systems may have to manually program the code into their equipment. Companies should check their equipment to determine if a manual effort is required to comply.

EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS): The FCC is developing a new reporting system that will ease reporting of EAS test results. The new system will automatically populate company information when reporting test results and catalog a history of a company’s filings. Companies are required to populate the system, report test information, and certify information according to the schedule below. Filing is mandatory and failure to file is subject to enforcement action.

Visual EAS Messages: Visual EAS messages have to be displayed on all downstream channels. The messages must contain originator, event, location, and the valid time period of the EAS message. The message also must meet certain display criteria, including screen placement, font size and color, and crawl speed. The display must meet the EAS Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) formats that were implemented in June 2012 (see JSI’s January 17, 2012 e-Lert).

Timeline: The implementation timeline for the new rules is as follows:

Effective Date – July 30, 2015, except for Sections 11.21(a) State EAS Plans and 11.61(a)(3)(iv) EAS Test Procedures.

Register company in new ETRS system – September 28, 2015, or 60 days after the availability of ETRS system. Information must be updated annually.

Update state EAS plans – September 28 or 60 days after the availability of ETRS system. State agencies are required to update their plans with the new “six zero” national location code.

Reporting of national “Day of Test” information – Test information must be filed in the ETRS system within 24 hours of the test. The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau will define the “Day of Test” and “Post Test” data to be filed.

Post Test Data filing obligations – Information due within 45 days of the national test.

Compliance with Visual EAS Message requirements – January 30, 2016.

If you have any questions on the new EAS rules or need assistance with waivers, required filings or other compliance issues, please contact Valerie Wimer at 301-459-7590.

Source: Source email