Category Archives: EAS and Amber Alerts

Important: EAS National Test, Registration & Reporting Deadlines

eas-logo_300The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a public notice outlining the upcoming nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), as well as mandatory registration and reporting deadlines for each EAS Participant.

The national test is scheduled for 2:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 28, 2016.  (A secondary test date is October 5, 2016, “if neccessary”).  EAS Participants must be prepared to take part in a test on both the primary and alternate test dates.  All EAS Participants are required to participate in this nationwide test.

This test will use the National Periodic Test (NPT) code, the location code for “All of United States.” FIPS number: 000000; and will be issued via FEMA Open IPAWS.

The results of the nationwide EAS test will be captured and analyzed using the new EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS).

Important Dates

1) All EAS Participants are reminded that they are required to register with ETRS and must complete the filing of ETRS Form One on or before August 26, 2016.

2) EAS Participants shall file the “day of test” information sought by ETRS Form Two before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 28, 2016.  This is the same day as the national test.

3) EAS Participants shall file the detailed post-test data sought by ETRS Form Three on or before November 14, 2016.

The FCC’s ETRS page is here.  (added 8/16/16:  The Broadcasters Desktop Reference website has a resource for broadcasters “Meet the ETRS.”  Visit that site here.)

The FCC public notice also encourages EAS Participants to take steps to prepare for the test.   The public notice is available here.

July 30 Deadline For EAS Equipment Upgrade + SAGE Upgrade Available

eas-logo_300A new set of EAS Rules and Guidelines adopted by the Federal Communications Commission will become effective on July 30, 2016, mandating the following: 

1). All EAS Participants must have an operational EAS Decoder that recognizes the new FCC EAS location ‘FIPS’ Code for “All of United States” #000000.

2). All EAS Participants must have an operational EAS Decoder that recognizes and acts immediately to ‘relay‐to‐air’ an EAS Activation coded with the EAS Event Code; ‘NPT’ (National Periodic Test) that is received with a valid ‘FIPS’ Code.

Sage Users: Firmware Update Notice

Sage Alerting Systems has released a mandatory firmware update for its Sage Digital ENDEC model 3644. This update will enable users to comply with the Federal Communications Commission’s Sixth Report and Order on the Emergency Alerting System, involving the national location code and NPT event processing. You must install the update to continue to receive IPAWS messages. Compliance with Part 11 rules requires implementation by July 30.

http://www.radioworld.com/article/sage-users-note-this-firmware-update/279302

 

SIDEBAR via MAB ABIP Inspector R. Dale Gehman:

Unfortunately, many of the original 1996 vintage EAS Decoders/Encoders must now be replaced as they cannot be upgraded to accomplish both the modified response to receipt of an ‘NPT’ Event Code, nor can they be upgraded to recognize the new ‘000000’ FIPS National Location Code.

An example of vintage EAS Gear that cannot be upgraded includes, but not limited to; TFT’s EAS911, the Gray SAGE ENDEC and most of the 1996 era EAS boxes.

Most Stations previously upgraded to current vintage EAS Gear that polls FEMA’s IPAWS-CAP Server via the Internet, in compliance with the FCC Rules. Licensees should insure that current vintage EAS Gear has the latest software and firmware updates prior to July 30, 2016!

Stations that continue to operate with vintage EAS Gear that has not been upgraded successfully to recognize the National FIPS Code ‘000000’ and upgraded with a modified response to the EAS Event Code ‘NPT’ – will be in violation of the Rules on August 1, 2016, a violation that subjects the Licensee to a significant monetary assessment and notice of violation upon inspection.

FCC Adds New Warning Codes to EAS

eas-logo_300The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) updated its rules to add more specific warnings through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) before extreme weather strikes. The amended rules add three new “event codes” that can be used to warn the public about the storm surges and extreme winds that may accompany hurricanes and other severe weather events.

The three added codes signify an (1) “Extreme Wind Warning,” (2) “Storm Surge Watch,” and (3) “Storm Surge Warning.” The updated rules require EAS equipment manufacturers to integrate the codes into new equipment and will also enable EAS participants to update their existing equipment in advance of 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

Further information about EAS is available here.

EAS National Test, Registration and Reporting Deadlines Announced

eas-logo_300The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a public notice outlining the upcoming nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), as well as mandatory registration and reporting deadlines for each EAS Participant.

The national test is scheduled for 2:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 28, 2016.  (A secondary test date is October 5, 2016, “if neccessary”).  EAS Participants must be prepared to take part in a test on both the primary and alternate test dates.  All EAS Participants are required to participate in this nationwide test.

This test will use the National Periodic Test (NPT) code, the location code for “All of United States.” FIPS number: 000000; and will be issued via FEMA Open IPAWS.

The results of the nationwide EAS test will be captured and analyzed using the new EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS).

Important Dates

1) All EAS Participants are reminded that they are required to register with ETRS and must complete the filing of ETRS Form One on or before August 26, 2016.

2) EAS Participants shall file the “day of test” information sought by ETRS Form Two before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 28, 2016.  This is the same day as the national test.

3) EAS Participants shall file the detailed post-test data sought by ETRS Form Three on or before November 14, 2016.

The FCC’s ETRS page is here.

The FCC public notice also encourages EAS Participants to take steps to prepare for the test.   The public notice is available here.

July 30 EAS Deadline Looms

eas-logo_300A new set of EAS Rules and Guidelines adopted by the Federal Communications Commission will become effective on July 30, 2016, mandating the following: 

1). All EAS Participants must have an operational EAS Decoder that recognizes the new FCC EAS location ‘FIPS’ Code for “All of United States” #000000.

2). All EAS Participants must have an operational EAS Decoder that recognizes and acts immediately to ‘relay‐to‐air’ an EAS Activation coded with the EAS Event Code; ‘NPT’ (National Periodic Test) that is received with a valid ‘FIPS’ Code.

3). As of June 27, the EAS Test Reporting System is operational and ready to accept filings, according to a release.

EAS participants must complete Form One of ETRS on or before Aug. 26. Corrections or updates must be submitted by Sept. 26. (Forms Two and Three will become available on ETRS at the time of initiation of the September 28, 2016 nationwide test – see below.)

To register for ETRS and access Form One, visit the ETRS page and register. You will then be emailed ETRS account credentials and a link to the login page, which you should click on and then log into. You will then go to the ETRS homepage, which has detailed instructions on how to access Form One. Filers may contact FCC staff for assistance in completing Form One at ETRS@fcc.gov.

4). With ‘ETRS’ operational, Stations must log in and report all EAS Activations to the FCC’s Server using the log‐in account registered for each Station.

5). FEMA has scheduled a National EAS Test for Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016 at 2:20 PM EDT. The National EAS Test will originate using the new EAS FIPS Code 000000 and using the EAS Event Code ‘NPT’ (National Periodic Test).

SIDEBAR via MAB ABIP Inspector R. Dale Gehman:

Unfortunately, many of the original 1996 vintage EAS Decoders/Encoders must now be replaced as they cannot be upgraded to accomplish both the modified response to receipt of an ‘NPT’ Event Code, nor can they be upgraded to recognize the new ‘000000’ FIPS National Location Code.

An example of vintage EAS Gear that cannot be upgraded includes, but not limited to; TFT’s EAS911, the Gray SAGE ENDEC and most of the 1996 era EAS boxes.

Most Stations previously upgraded to current vintage EAS Gear that polls FEMA’s IPAWS-CAP Server via the Internet, in compliance with the FCC Rules. Licensees should insure that current vintage EAS Gear has the latest software and firmware updates prior to July 30, 2016!

Stations that continue to operate with vintage EAS Gear that has not been upgraded successfully to recognize the National FIPS Code ‘000000’ and upgraded with a modified response to the EAS Event Code ‘NPT’ – will be in violation of the Rules on August 1, 2016, a violation that subjects the Licensee to a significant monetary assessment and notice of violation upon inspection.

EAS Comments Filed By State Broadcast Associations

The Michigan Association of Broadcasters, along with other broadcaster associations representing 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, recently filed Joint Comments in the FCC’s rulemaking proceeding regarding proposed changes to the Emergency Alert System. We pointed out how state broadcasters associations played an important role in the effort to pass a federal statute authorizing the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), and how broadcasters and State Emergency Communications Committees (SECCs) are committed and critical stakeholders in our nation’s emergency alerting network. A broad theme of our comments was the need for EAS issues to be addressed at the state and local levels where possible, giving SECCs and EAS participants the necessary discretion to make decisions that work for their respective communities. Some of the specific points included in the comments were:

  1. The state broadcaster associations objected to proposals claiming to enhance the security of the EAS network, but which would in fact impose unreasonable burdens on broadcasters, such as requiring broadcasters to notify the FCC of security breaches (e.g., the unauthorized triggering of an alert) within 15-30 minutes. We pointed out that imposing such burdens could have a chilling effect on full participation by broadcasters in EAS.
  2. The state broadcaster associations urged the FCC to adopt rules requiring cable systems to implement “selective override” for TV broadcast stations, which would prevent cable set-top boxes from automatically tuning all channels during an EAS alert to a cable channel providing only generic information about the emergency situation. Without a selective override requirement, TV stations which provide up to the minute news and weather reports during emergency and severe weather situations will continue to be subject to having their signals automatically blocked by cable operators at the very time when detailed emergency or weather information is most needed.
  3. The state broadcaster associations supported the idea of allowing broadcasters, at their discretion, to perform live code EAS testing without the need for FCC waivers, to use EAS tones in PSAs, and to use WEA (Wireless Emergency Alert) tones in news reports designed to inform the public about WEA, (subject to safeguards) to assure that such codes do not trigger alerts downstream.
  4. The state broadcaster associations questioned a proposal to bring social media and other non-broadcast/cable platforms into the EAS network, arguing that those platforms, in many cases are still evolving, and are of uncertain reliability and utility as sources for distributing alerts.
  5. The state broadcaster associations cautioned the FCC against adopting any “one-size-fits-all” template for State EAS Plans which would impair the flexibility of SECCs to tailor plans to their own respective states’ needs, or which would impose unreasonable burdens on the SECCs that would have to rewrite their plans to fit such a template. We also cautioned the FCC generally about adopting proposals which would increase the burdens on SECCs, as they are typically volunteer organizations with limited resources.

Download the FCC filing here.

Urgent EAS Notice: New Equipment Requirements

eas-logo_300MAB ABIP inspector R. Dale Gehman has issued the following advisory.  Please review your EAS equipment immediately to assess your situation.

If you need further assistance, feel free to contact the MAB at (800) 968-7622.

CLIENT MEMO:
R. Dale Gehman – GC&C – June 20, 2016

A new set of EAS Rules and Guidelines adopted by the Federal Communications Commission become effective on July 30, 2016, mandating the following:

1). All EAS Participants must have an operational EAS Decoder that recognizes the new FCC EAS ‘FIPS’ Code #000000 (National Location Code).

2). All EAS Participants must have an operational EAS Decoder that recognizes and acts immediately to ‘relay‐to‐air’ an EAS Activation received coded with the EAS Event Code; ‘NPT’ (National Periodic Test) that is received with a valid ‘FIPS’ Code.

3). All EAS Participants must register with the FCC’s new ‘EAS Test Reporting System’ (ETRS) once the ‘ETRS’ server is operational. The FCC will release a Public Notice announcing the launch of ‘ETRS’ and that upcoming notice will specify a WEB‐URL link that Stations must use to complete their ‘ETRS’ registration.

4). Once item ‘3’ above occurs; Licensees will have sixty (60) days to establish an account and enter each Station’s data into the FCC’s ‘ETRS’. Once ‘ETRS’ is operational, Stations must log in and report all EAS Activations to the FCC’s Server using the log‐in account registered for each Station.

5). FEMA has scheduled a National EAS Test for Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016 at 2:20 PM EDT. The National EAS Test will originate using the new EAS FIPS Code 000000 (New National Location Code) and using the modified EAS Event Code ‘NPT’ (National Periodic Test).

SIDEBAR:

Unfortunately, many of the original 1996 vintage EAS Decoders/Encoders must now be replaced as they cannot be upgraded to accomplish both the modified response to receipt of an ‘NPT’ Event Code nor can they be upgraded to recognize the new ‘000000’ FIPS National Location Code.

An example of vintage EAS Gear that cannot be upgraded includes, but not limited to; TFT’s EAS911, the Gray SAGE ENDEC and most of the 1996 era EAS boxes.

Most Stations previously upgraded to current vintage EAS Gear that polls FEMA’s IPAWS-CAP Server via the Internet, in compliance with the FCC Rules. Licensees should insure that current vintage EAS Gear has the latest software and firmware updates prior to July 30, 2016!

Stations that continue to operate with vintage EAS Gear that has not been upgraded successfully to recognize the National FIPS Code ‘000000’ and upgraded with a modified response to the EAS Event Code ‘NPT’ – will be in violation of the Rules on August 1, 2016, a violation that subjects the Licensee to a significant monetary assessment and notice of violation upon inspection.

FCC Issues Order on Multilingual EAS Alerting

fcc-logo_dark-blueOn March 30, the FCC released an order on EAS multilingual alerting. In essence, the order does two things:

1. Within one year after publication in the Federal Register of a notice announcing OMB approval, EAS Participants (broadcast stations, cable systems etc.) need to inform their SECC what steps, if any, “have been or will be taken by EAS Participants, whether individually or in conjunction with state and local emergency authorities, to disseminate, broadcast, or otherwise make available, EAS alert content to non-English speaking audiences in such audiences’ primary language.” Such descriptions shall include relevant factors that explain the degree to which alerts have been disseminated or broadcast in multiple languages. As a corollary to this reporting requirement, the FCC will require EAS Participants to cooperate with state and local emergency authorities, and SECCs, to identify such information. The mandate has no specific compliance method, but rather provides the broadest flexibility to state and local governments and EAS Participants to describe any steps that have been taken to provide multilingual EAS Alerts for their respective communities.

2. SECCs need to incorporate this information in their State EAS Plan. However, the EAS NPRM the FCC released at the end of January includes a LOT of proposals that, if adopted, will change the way Michigan and other states compile and file their state plans.  There is more forthcoming on this.

The FCC order also denies the MMTC’s long-standing petition calling for rule changes that would have, in essence, forced multilingual alerting.

The MAB will continue to keep you informed on EAS changes.

Statewide Tornado Drill/EAS Test – April 13, 2016

Graphic 005In cooperation with the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, and with the endorsement of the MAB Board of Directors, the National Weather Service will conduct a test with the Tornado Warning EAS Code at 1:30pm Eastern Time on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 as part of Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week. The MAB received a waiver from the FCC to use the actual EAS Tornado Warning Code (“TOR”) for this statewide test.

This test will be in conjunction with a statewide tornado drill. In addition to the EAS activation, your area may experience a test of tornado sirens which may alarm some members of the public. Your assistance in informing the public before the test is requested.

The MAB Board of Directors encourages all broadcasters and cable operators to participate. Other states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois have conducted similar successful tests in the past few years. Though encouraged, participation in this test by broadcast stations and cable systems is voluntary. This test was also endorsed by the State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC).

If there is a threat of actual severe weather on April 13, the test will be postponed until April 14, 2016. If there is a threat of severe weather on April 14, the test will be cancelled. The go/no-go decision will be made by 4pm the day prior by the National Weather Service, as well as the Statewide Tornado Drill Working group. MAB will post a go or no-go status on its homepage at http://www.michmab.com.

While the audio of this test will repeat several times in the script “This is a Test,” and with the EAS Tornado Code being used, the crawl on TV stations and cable stations will read “A Tornado Warning has been issued for…(and it will list your counties).” We ask that TV broadcasters and cable operators participating in the test to display a “This is a Test” graphic behind the crawl. Download the available graphics package.

The test will be originated on the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) and these tests will will cover all counties in Michigan and will originate from the NWS offices at Grand Rapids, Gaylord, Marquette, Detroit/Pontiac, and Northern Indiana. They will be relayed via the State Relay (SR) and Local Primary (LP) stations.

What to Expect in Your Market on April 13, 2016

As noted above, its more than likely that your area may experience a test of tornado sirens in addition to the activation of the EAS tornado alert. All businesses, organizations, families, and individuals are welcome to participate in the voluntary statewide preparedness activity. Nearly all state of Michigan facilities will be involved.

How Broadcasters Can Help

This is an excellent opportunity for broadcasters to show the importance of radio and television in times of emergencies. We ask broadcasters to take an active role in their communities to alert listeners and viewers about not only the test alerts, but our role in providing vital information to the public in times of severe weather and other emergencies.

Local Emergency Management Coordinators have been encouraged to reach out to broadcasters in advance of the test.

***The MAB asks broadcasters to reach out to their local emergency management personnel regarding the activities in their own market. We ask you to cover it in your news, community affairs programs, popular personality shows and in your weather breaks.***

Please use Emergency Managers in newscast interviews and on your local morning shows and talk programming.

Not certain who to contact? The MAB has a list of statewide emergency management contacts available here.

A Statewide Tornado Drill Media Toolkit, including talking points, sample social media posts, and more. Download the kit here.

The MAB encourages you to begin on-air mentions and promotion of the tornado test no later than April 7 (one week from the test).

There are recorded radio PSAs for severe weather week available:

PSA #1 :30 Download (Statewide Tornado Drill)
PSA #2 :30 Download (Outdoor Warning Sirens)
Additional scripts for TV/live read: Download

The State of Michigan has prepared graphics for use on your webpage and social media posts here.

Additional Information/Contacts

The official website for the Statewide Tornado Alert: http://michigan.gov/miready

Michigan State Police contact:

Ron Leix
Public Information Officer (PIO)
Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division
Phone: (517) 284-3962
leixr@michigan.gov

Michigan Association of Broadcasters contact:

Dan Kelley
Technology Manager
Phone: (517) 484-7444
dkelley@michmab.com

Statewide Tornado Warning EAS Test April 13, 2016

Michigan Statewide Tornado DrillAt the request of and in cooperation with Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, the National Weather Service will conduct a test with the Tornado Warning EAS Code at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 as part of Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week. The Michigan Association of Broadcasters has received a waiver from the FCC to use the actual EAS Tornado Warning Code (“TOR”) for this statewide test.

The MAB Board of Directors endorsed the test and encourage all member stations to participate. Other states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois have conducted similar tests in the past few years. However, participation in this test by broadcast stations and cable systems is voluntary.

If there is a threat of actual severe weather on April 13, the test will be postponed until April 14, 2016. If there is a threat of severe weather on April 14, the test will be cancelled. The go/no-go decision will be made by 4pm the day prior by the National Weather Service as well as the Statewide Tornado Drill Working group. MAB will post a go or no-go status on its homepage.

While the audio of this test will repeat several times in the script “This is a Test,” because the EAS Tornado Code is being sent, the crawl on TV stations and cable stations will read “A Tornado Warning has been issued for…”. We ask that TV broadcasters and cable operators making the decision to air the test audio should display a “This is a Test” graphic behind the crawl.

The test will be originated on NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) and will be relayed via the State Relay (SR) and Local Primary (LP) stations.

Promotion and Publicity:  The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, along with other stakeholders including the MAB, the National Weather Service, American Red Cross, Local Area Emergency Managers, and others have prepared a Statewide Tornado Drill Media Toolkit, including talking points, produced radio PSAs, sample social media posts, and more.

This kit and PSAs will be made available online shortly. The MAB will be sending out an additional memo once these materials are available, as well as a suggested on-air promotion timetable (starting roughly the week of April 4, 2016.

Questions? Contact Dan Kelley at the MAB: (517) 484-7444 or dkelley@michmab.com.