FCC Delays National EAS Test by Two Weeksposted on 9.17.2018
- Additional Time to Prepare, Comply
With the remnants of Hurricane Florence still battering the Carolinas as first responders continue to pluck people from flooded homes and businesses, the FCC announced a two-week delay in the National EAS Test. Instead of taking place on Sept. 20, the test will now be held on Wed., Oct. 3, at 1:20 PM (CDT). The delay gives broadcasters that hadn’t prepared additional time to get ready. Stations that fail to take the necessary steps could be fined.
Lauren Lynch Flick and Warren Kessler, attorneys with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, TAB’s FCC legal counsel, have previously outlined broadcasters’ obligations to prepare for the test as follows.
National EAS Test Preparation Outline
The nationwide test is designed to study the effectiveness of the EAS and to monitor the performance of EAS participants. The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system will be tested immediately prior to the test of the EAS. The FCC and FEMA had designated October 3, 2018 as the back-up date should circumstances prevent testing on September 20.
All EAS participants should already have filed Form One with the FCC by August 27, 2018 in preparation for the test. IF YOU HAVE NOT DONE SO, DO IT IMMEDIATELY.
To make this filing, EAS participants must log in to the EAS Test Reporting System using an FCC Username Account. Those filers who do not already have an account can register for one in the FCC's updated CORES system.
Once a username account is set up, it will need to be associated with a licensee's FCC Registration Number (FRN) before the user can draft or file forms for that licensee's station(s). Many filers struggled to successfully register in past years, but those who participated in the annual test in 2017 should already be registered.
Form One requests information about a station's transmitter location, EAS equipment, and the stations it is assigned to monitor. For most EAS participants, this information will prefill from last year's Form One (so be particularly careful reviewing it if your monitoring assignments, equipment, or something else has changed since last year).
Stations will also see an instruction to file a separate Form One for each encoder, decoder or combination unit. Most broadcasters will likely have a combination unit and therefore only need to file a single Form One. However, there may be situations where multiple filings are needed, for example where a cluster of co-owned radio stations share a studio but have to employ separate encoders and decoders to deal with stations in the group having different monitoring assignments.
As in the past, after the test is completed, participants must report the results of the test by filing Form Two, which requests abbreviated "day of test" data, and then Form Three, which collects more detailed data about the station's performance.
- Form One must be filed on or before August 27, 2018. MISSED THE DEADLINE? DO IT NOW!!!
- Form Two ("day of test" data) must be filed by 11:59 PM (EDT) on October 3, 2018.
- Form Three must be filed on or before November 19, 2018.
To prepare for the test, the FCC recommends that EAS participants review the EAS Operating Handbook and be sure that it is available at normal duty positions or EAS equipment locations, and is otherwise readily accessible to employees responsible for managing EAS actions.
Participants should also use this time to ensure their facilities are in a state of "operational readiness." Operators should confirm that their EAS equipment has any necessary software and firmware upgrades and that it is capable of receiving the various test codes. If not automatic, operators must also manually set their EAS equipment to the "official time" as established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Each of these issues has been a significant cause of stations being unable to receive or transmit past tests.
Finally, the person filing for each station should verify that they have the right username, password, and licensee FRN in advance of the filing deadline. Experience from the past two national tests revealed that many stations were caught off guard not by the test itself, but by their inability to access the ETRS to make required filings, often because of confusion surrounding how to log in.
Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.
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