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EAS performs well in test, next report due

 - New emergency warnings on tap in ATSC 3.0

The new generation of the nation’s Emergency Alert System performed very well in the national test conducted by the FCC and FEMA on Sept. 28, with preliminary data showing about 95 percent of stations across the country received the test – about what the agencies anticipated.

TAB has learned that a few Texas stations had audio quality issues and that some stations discovered in the test that they had failed to install firmware updates provided by their EAS box vendors, but otherwise it appears Texas stations had a smooth test experience.

While broadcasters should have electronically submitted Form 2 in the Emergency Test Reporting System on the day of the test, stations’ work isn’t done until Form 3 is filed. The deadline for doing so is Nov. 14.

Form 3 allows broadcasters to report any complications they experienced ranging from audio quality and user error issues, to equipment problems and failures to receive alert user codes.

As TAB has previously reported, stations should have downloaded the new EAS Operating Handbook created by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. The new edition should be kept with the station EAS log. Both practices are FCC requirements.

While some engineers have pointed out shortcomings within the new handbook, complying with these requirements is not optional. TAB will alert stations if the FCC issues corrections or updates to the handbook.

New emergency warnings on tap

While the latest national test measured the effectiveness of the nation’s new Internet-enabled common alerting EAS protocol, TV broadcasters already can anticipate a new generation of emergency warnings that will likely supplant the existing system.

ATSC 3.0 – the next generation broadcast TV standard – will provide viewers greatly enhanced alerting with rich-media, geo-targeted alerts according to the Advanced Warning and Response Network as seen in this report from the NAB’s technology development coalition called PILOT.

Questions? Contact TAB's Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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