Updates on EAS - A Nationwide Test, and Lots of Questions About CAP Implementation Including Whether More Time is Needed

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The date for a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System ("EAS") was announced by the FCC last week, at the same meeting at which the Future of Media report was delivered. The first ever national test of EAS will occur at 2 PM EST on November 9, 2011. As we wrote in February, the FCC amended its rules to provide for a nationwide test, in addition to the weekly and monthly tests that are already part of the FCC rules. The nationwide test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of EAS in being able to convey to the public a Presidential alert. This test comes at the same time as the FCC has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to consider amendments to its rules to provide for the conversion to a new method of disseminating EAS alerts - using the Common Alert Protocol (CAP) which is IP based, rather than reliant on the daisy chain over-the-air system that has been used for so long. One question is whether the deadline for CAP implementation, presently set for September 30, should be extended. Thoughts about the test and the FCC proposals for CAP implementation are set out below.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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