FCC Opens ETRS, Releases New EAS Handbook, in Advance of Sept. 27 National EAS Testposted on 7.31.2017
The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) of the Federal Communications Commission this week confirmed a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System on Sept. 27, 2017 at 1:20 PM CDT.
The FCC also announced the opening of the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) for 2017 filings as well as the release of a new EAS Operating Handbook.
Sept. 27 Nationwide EAS Test
The 2017 nationwide test will assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS, with a particular emphasis on testing FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), the integrated gateway through which common alerting protocol-based (CAP-based) EAS alerts are disseminated to EAS participants such as broadcast radio and TV stations.
The test message will clearly state that the alert is only a test of the EAS.
FEMA’s alert will be transmitted in English and Spanish and include both audio and the text of the test message, which can be used to populate an accessible video crawl.
The primary test date is scheduled for Sept. 27 at 1:20 PM CDT. If conditions on the day of the test require the rescheduling of the test, a secondary test date is scheduled for Oct. 4.
If a station participates in EAS, it is required to participate in the nationwide test.
The FCC is encouraging radio and TV stations to take steps, in coordination with their State Emergency Communication Committees, in preparation for this test, such as:
- Ensuring that a copy of the new EAS Operating Handbook is located at normal duty positions or EAS equipment locations and is immediately available to operators;
- Reviewing the EAS Operating Handbook for the actions to be taken by operators upon receipt of the test alert and tailoring any actions as necessary that are specific to the EAS participants’ facilities;
- Ensuring that EAS equipment operates in compliance with FCC rules, such as being capable of receiving and processing the national periodic test code (NPT) and the “six zeroes” national location code;
- Upgrading EAS equipment software and firmware to the most recent version;
- Reviewing their 2016 ETRS Form One filings to single out changes to identifying information that have occurred in the last year, and entering those changes into the ETRS;
- Manually synchronizing EAS equipment clocks to the official time provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, if an EAS Participant’s equipment does not automatically synchronize to an Internet time source.
TAB Urges Stations to Act today on EAS Compliance
As noted elsewhere in this week’s TABulletin, the FCC has taking a hardline on EAS infractions. David Oxenford of Associate Member law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer has a cautionary story about an Alaska station’s cavalier attitude towards EAS compliance.
It earned the station a $66,000 fine last week.
EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) and Deadlines
The ETRS is now open for 2017 filings and per Section 11.61 of the FCC’s rules, EAS participants such as radio and TV stations must renew their identifying information required by ETRS Form One on a yearly basis.
All EAS participants must complete the 2017 ETRS Form One on or before Aug. 28.
Each EAS participant should file a separate copy of Form One for each of its EAS decoders, EAS encoders, and units combining such decoder and encoder functions.
The next deadline is for the so-called “day of test” information. On or before 10:59 p.m. CDT, Sept. 27, EAS Participants must submit any updates or corrections to their 2017 Form One filings and must file the “day of test” information sought by ETRS Form Two.
ETRS Form Three will be due on or before Nov. 13. EAS participants must file the detailed post-test data sought in the form.
To access the ETRS, filers must first create an FCC Username (Username) within the User Registration System at https://apps2.fcc.gov/fccUserReg/pages/createAccount.htm, then associate their FCC Registration Numbers (FRNs) to that Username.
Filers that have already created a Username for use with another FCC system can use that same Username to access ETRS.
Filers can access ETRS by visiting the ETRS page of the FCC’s website at https://www.fcc.gov/general/eas-test-reportingsystem .
New 2017 EAS Operating Handbook
The FCC has released a revised EAS Operating Handbook.
A copy of the Handbook must be located at normal duty positions or EAS equipment locations when an operator is required to be on duty and be immediately available to staff responsible for administering EAS tests.
The Handbook supersedes all other EAS Handbooks and must be in place in time for the 2017 nationwide EAS test.
The Handbook’s format allows each EAS Participant to enter data specific to their own configuration, tailoring the operational steps outlined in the manual for local relevance.
A writable PDF version of the Handbook can be found on the Bureau’s web site at https://www.fcc.gov/general/eastest-reporting-system.
More Information Available from the FCC
The FCC says further information regarding the nationwide EAS test is available from Austin Randazzo, Attorney Advisor, Policy and Licensing Division, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, at (202) 418-1462 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Gregory Cooke, Deputy Chief, Policy and Licensing Division, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, at (202) 418-2351 or email@example.com.
Filers may contact the CORES Help Desk for assistance with creating a Username at CORESHelpDesk@fcc.gov or (202) 418-4120.
Filers may contact FCC staff for assistance in completing ETRS Form One at ETRS@fcc.gov.
Questions? Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.
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