This originally appeared on the SBE-EAS Listserve.
To help broadcasters better prepare for the 2017 National Periodic Test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), here is a list of issues that occurred during the 2016 national test that EAS participants might want to check:
1. Check that Text-to-Speech, if audio file is not available, is
enabled for CAP messages on EAS equipment.
a) Although optional in the FCC rules, TTS really should be mandatory. If the NPT audio file can’t be retrieved, without TTS enabled, a “silent” message will be broadcast. TTS may sound ugly, but it is better than silence.
b). This varies by EAS manufacturer and sometimes in an obscure part of the configuration.
2. Listen to on-air EAS equipment audio output levels, don’t just rely on equipment logs. EAS audio must replace the program audio completely.
a) All program audio channels – right, left, 5.1 surround, secondary audio program, etc.
b) Don’t duck the program audio under the EAS audio – replace the program audio with EAS.
c) EAS audio loudness should be similar to normal program audio levels – not substantially louder or quieter.
d) Verify audio clock rate is configured consistently on EAS and
transmission chain equipment.
3. Check middleware programming and downstream connections (mostly television and cable systems). View the on-air video output of the EAS equipment, don’t just rely on equipment logs.
a) Middleware includes control systems, switching systems, RF systems and distribution elements.
b) The entire EAS message from first EAS header data burst until after the last EOM data burst is included.
c) Video crawl must display at least one complete crawl, even if the audio message is shorter or longer. The crawl should be readable and understandable – not extremely fast or slow.
4. Satellite program syndicators and satellite fed stations should understand which one is responsible for EAS as part of the program transmission chain.
a) NPR squawk and Premiere Networks supply national EAS
(PEP) on a distinct audio feed separate from normal programming. The EAS source channel may be connected to one of the EAS equipment audio input channels. The 2017 NPT will not be transmitted by NPR squawk or Premiere Networks; however, a real EAN could be.
b) Program syndicators should inform their affiliates if their satellite feed is pre-EAS (without EAS data bursts) or post-EAS (may include EAS data bursts).
c) Satellite affiliates with local EAS equipment should ask for a pre-EAS satellite source (without EAS data bursts)
d) Translator stations and hub-feed satellite stations without local EAS equipment must have a post-EAS (including EAS data bursts) source.
5. Not new, but still an issue. Check the system time on equipment, both EAS and automation systems.