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FCC Requires Use of Internet-Based CAP EAS Messaging in Favor of “Legacy” Version of Alerts

The Federal Communications Commission adopted a Report and Order last week to update its Emergency Alert System rules so that the “legacy system” of ENDEC-created, broadcast daisy chain-delivered alerting is pushed into second chair status, with the Internet-based system of alerting being favored for “superior messaging capabilities.”  

The FCC said the move would lead to EAS messages that are “more informative and easier to understand by the public, particularly people with disabilities.”

The EAS, which has been in place since Jan. 1, 1997, is used by federal, state, and local government agencies to send alerts and warnings to the public via radio and television broadcasts, and cable television.

The updated rules require broadcasters, cable systems, and other Emergency Alert System participants to transmit the Internet-based version of alerts to the public when available, rather than transmit the legacy version of alerts. 

The FCC said “increased use of Internet-based alerts, in Common Alerting Protocol format, will produce higher-quality audio messages, improve the availability of multilingual alerts, and ensure that more of the alerts displayed on television screens contain all of the information provided by the government.”

The updated CAP-friendly rules also replace the technical jargon that accompanies certain alerts, including test messages, “with plain language terms so that the visual and audio messages are clearer to the public.”

The FCC said “people who are deaf or hard of hearing will have access to alerts in a viewable format that more closely matches the audible versions of these alert messages on television,” and “people who are blind or visually impaired will have access on their radios to national alerts containing more detailed audio information.”

Attorney David Oxenford of TAB Associate member law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer said the 
new rules will go into effect 30 days after the Report and Order is published in the Federal Register and provide a transition period for EAS participants to implement some of the required technical changes.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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