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FCC’s national EAS Test Reporting System is operational, new draft EAS operating handbook released

In advance of the Sept. 28 national activation of the Emergency Alert System, the FCC’s new EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS), is now operational.

Why a new EAS test reporting system?

After the first-ever nationwide EAS test in 2011, the FCC decided it wanted a better way to gather station data and feedback.

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau developed the ETRS in response to the commission’s needs. The system went live last week.

Stations are required to create an ETRS account and submit identifying information in Form One by Aug. 26.

After the Sept. 28 test takes place, stations will have 24 hours to log into ETRS to file an initial report.

A more detailed set of post-test data notes regarding the national test must be filed within 45 days of the filing of the initial report.

Harry Cole, an attorney with TAB Associate member law firm Fletcher Heald and Hildreth, said station staff should go to the ETRS page on the FCC’s website to learn more about the system.

Go straight to the ETRS Registration page here

Cole said stations will be asked for identifying information (including name, address, phone numbers, FRN and FRN password) on the registration page.

Once submitted, the station will receive an email with the station’s ETRS account credentials and a link to the ETRS log-in page.

Cole said you’ll find instructions for completing Form One once you have logged in.

An important note – the FCC said care should be taken in accurately providing the EAS participant’s legal name during the registration process.

Specifically, any EAS participant “owned by a larger entity should accurately enter the owning entity’s legal name in the Owner of EAS Participant field in Form One”.

Cole said EAS participants with multiple facilities will also be able to appoint a “coordinator” who would be able to access and revise data for all filers using the same FRN.

If there are errors in entering information, stations will have until Sept. 26 to correct them.

In another EAS-related development, the Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) has developed and released a new, draft EAS Operating Handbook.

The handbook is designed to provide guidance to station staff on what to do when an EAS alert is received.

The FCC’s EAS rules require stations to have a copy of the handbook at “normal duty positions”, e.g., where the station’s EAS equipment is located.

Why a new draft handbook?

Cole said the original version “has not kept up with the times” and that the FCC delegated to CSRIC the chore of recommending “textual and visual modifications” to make the handbook “suitable” for all EAS participants, including particularly those that are “rural, smaller and less resourced”.

CSRIC has come up with a draft revision of the Handbook that would be customizable for each individual EAS participant.

A copy of CSRIC’s handiwork may be found at Appendices A and B of its final report on the project (PDF pages 12-46).

As envisioned by CSRIC, Cole said the handbook would be available online for download, with various blanks to be filled in by the responsible person at each EAS participant.

The idea is that the handbook would include information to guide ALL types of EAS participants – and that each individual participant would be responsible for customizing its own handbook to that participant’s particular circumstances.

The FCC is now looking for comments on this approach from EAS participants.

The deadline for PS Docket No. 15-94 comments will be 15 days following publication of the FCC’s public notice in the Federal Register.

Cole notes that isn’t much time, so he recommends stations take a look at the handbook sooner rather than later.

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

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