FCC Adopts Rules for the First National Test of the Emergency Alert System


In a Third Report and Order (Order) released earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules to implement the first ever national test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which will affect all television and radio broadcast stations, cable systems, wireless cable systems, Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) services, Satellite Digital Audio Radio Services (SDARS), and other wireline video services.


EAS is the current public warning system designed to allow the President to issue an alert to the public during a national crisis. The current EAS relies upon broadcast messages through a “daisy chain” to radio, television, satellite, and cable operators to deliver messages to the public. While the current EAS is subject to weekly and monthly tests at the state and local level, the EAS has never delivered a national Presidential alert and the national EAS has never been tested from “top to bottom.” The FCC’s Part 11 rules have long provided for weekly and monthly tests of the EAS on the state and local levels, which the FCC believes may not reveal vulnerabilities in the nationwide alert system.

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