The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

EAS News Archive: 2021

The idea is to bring some clarity to the issues and answer your questions.
For more detail on EAS and some Q&A, please check the EAS Issues.

12/31/21 – The report on the 2021 EAS NPT has been released by the FCC. According to their report, August 11 test reached 89.3% of participants, better than the 2019 test which reached 82.5% of participants, with 87.1% of those retransmitting the test. Some 6,300 participants (59% of the Radio, TV, Cable) did not report participation.

The FCC has noted that the next test will emphasize the mandatory nature of the participation. 

12/15/21 – During the Open Meeting this week, the FCC adopted the Proposed RuleMaking with several facets: a proposal to require broadcasters and other EAS particpants to use Internet-based alerts when available, rather than over the air alerts; another “to improve the clarity and descriptiveness of the visual messages” to better serve the hard of hearing. And there is a proposal to change EAS architecture to relay more visual information. 

The Commission is also continuing to explore potential changes in the basic architecture of EAS, given the Internet, ATSC 3, HD Radio, and other changes – although it does recognize the existing EAS can reach 90% of the country with audio alerts.  Should there be two (or more) EAS systems be put in place?

11/29/21 – Someone at Fox Sports thought it would be a good idea to run a promo for in the NFL Pre-game for a “FoxEmergencyAlert” … complete with a sound-alike EAS tone., it got worse. The link shown on the screen was just a dummy. But someone grabbed it and put up a page that, essentially, used the meme “Let’s Go, Brandon.” 

You can expect this one to turn up in the Enforcement Watch with a hefty fine … but there are still people out there that think it is funny.

1/15/21 – There was an “early termination of the Chron job” at the FEMA, and the Mountain, Pacific, Alaska, and Hawaii time zones did not get the weekly EAS test from the IPAWS/CAP server.

8/14/21 – What did we learn from the 2021 NPT?

Early reports indicate a large part of the country got “something” and while audio could be improved (always), a couple of sites found issues with their EAS receivers. Still, most were able to “relay something” – even if only the tones.

What we believe we know:

  1. Stations using Premier as a source got tones, but no audio.
    1. This could be why Western NC stations had no audio
    2. Some stations in WA and OR likewise had silent NPTs.
    3. Kansas stations did not get audio, as the state primary, in Topeka had the no-audio test from Premier.
  2. Stations using NPR got clean audio, but a slight fade a the end was reported.
  3. Stations in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area did not get the NPT, as the PEP was apparently unable to relay.
  4. The audio in Maryland was rather distorted and largely unintelligible. 
  5. Reports from Ohio indicate either no audio or distorted audio there, as well as no audio in a number of locations in KY and MI.
  6. Similar reports indicate that much of Florida apparently did not get the NPT. Tampa area had only tones/no audio. SW Florida got the NPT via NPR and LP1, clean.
  7. Washington DC, LP1 had good audio, some others were degraded.
  8. In West Virginia, station relying on the WV Metro News Network did not get the NPT as the WV MNN did not relay the test. 
  9. In NW Missouri and some other places, including Southern Arizona, the audio was there, but very distorted – some thinking that it would be hard to hear. 
  10. Cell phones expecting the WEA test alert were often disappointed, as it turns out that even if you are subscribed to WEA alerts – the WEA *test* alerts are not included. The instructions are on the FCC site here.
  11. More than a few youtube videos show stations that did not run audio, or otherwise “bootlegged” the NPT. 
  12. A lack of testing audio from NPR and SiriusXM was said to contribute to distortion or very low audio at some stations.
  13. Similarly, each iteration of the audio through additional audio processors or A/D D/A conversions adds to the degradation of the message. 

Still, although we expect more information soon from the FCC and the FEMA, even with these notes, the vast majority of daisy chained stations seemed to handle the task. 

7/21/21 – If you have a Sage EAS box, the company has posted a new update “CR-Rev6” on their website that must be downloaded and installed by August 21st.

Digital Alert Systems has one here. And, Instructions are here.

For Sage: click here. 

Note: Use or non-use of the updates will not affect the August 11th NPT.  And it can be done any time before August 21st. 

7/21/21 – Sage and DASDEC have issued information to help you ensure your EAS receiver is programmed correctly for August 11th. Both presented on the BDR Lunch Gathering on Thursday, July 22. The video is here. 

7/20/21 – Clay Freinwald, Chair of the Washington State SECC has announced his retirement from the position. Why is this important?  Washington State is among the most active and pioneering with EAS activities, cooperation with local EM agencies, and Clay, in particular, has been an EAS evangelist across the country for well over 20 years. Clay says he will be available for helping transition, but has decided to let “younger ones” now carry the load. 

7/20/21 – the FCC has issued a Public Notice regarding the one-year deadline for filing State EAS Plans via the ARS, and the deadline for compliance with both the State EAS Plan content rules in sections 11.21(a)(1)-(7) and the EAS designations in section 11.18 of the EAS rules, is July 5, 2022.2

6/17/21 – As expected, the FCC has made some changes to the EAS during their Open Meeting.

  • The 2021 version of the FCC’s Emergency Alert System Operating Handbook is now available, replacing the 2017 version.  FCC rules require that a copy of the Handbook be maintained by stations and be immediately available to staff responsible for authenticating messages and initiating actions. Download the 2021 Handbook here. Additionally, a docx version is available here.
  • The FCC set up the new SECC requirements, including posting the State EAS Plan on the (restricted) ARS site. 
  • False alerts must be reported by broadcasters, but now national, state, and local officials are able (and encouraged) to report not only false alerts but inappropraite alerts (Tsunami in Oklahoma).
  • In a fit of correctness, the Presidential Alert has been renamed a “National Alert.”

6/10/21 – It is now official: The FCC’s PSHSB has issued a Public Notice designating August 11th at 2:20 PM EDT for the National Periodic Test of the EAS. 

5/29/21 – The FCC has set up the ARS for SECCs to upload their State Plans. At this time, it is not publicly available, but only to SECC people.

5/15/21 – Perhaps you are aware of the FCC’s ongoing plan to review Part 11, a proposal was set up to require Internet servers to add EAS delivery. One of the commenters – the NAB – made its view clear: trying to interface EAS to the Internet is not currently viable, as it would be too complex to do it in any useful way. Let us hope the result will be a technical one, not a political one. 

5/5/21 – We are encouraged by the willingness of the FEMA’s Mark Lucero to explain the issues that have confronted the IPAWS CAP RWTs since they changed servers. Mark graciously spent more than an hour directly answering questions posed. The video is here.

In addition, there have been reports of some alerts failing due to mp3 attachments. According to the FEMA, this is another effect of the server change, mostly affecting Everbridge users, due to the formatting of the URL for the audio. It is in the process of being corrected.

4/26/21 – The FEMA’s Monday morning RWT failed again – this time for stations that check the digital signature. Many receiver logs will show “digital signature invalid.” Thus, if that is what you got, just more the test “failed.” Some indications are that you might have gotten the test via a secondary source, like Em-Net. How receivers react to events though such second source may vary.

It is worth mentioning that 11.56 (c) requires EAS devices to check digital signatures.  

4/23/21 – The FEMA sent an unscheduled RWT this afternoon, around 4:30 EDT, using a different script, to see if they can fix what happened on Monday. The test used the 00000 code, which is normally only for EAN and NPT, so most boxes may not respond or log it as they would not be looking for 00000 for an RWT.

This was a test, and should not cause you to reprogram your EAS units.

4/19/21 – The FEMA was unable to send the RWT correctly this morning. Apparently, it seems to have affected mostly sage boxes rather than DASDEC/Monroe or Trilithic units.

We have been told there was a recent change in servers – and the new server had some trouble handling the normal script used. The result was some difficulty for sage units to decode. The IT folks are scrambling to correct the script used. This can be logged as a “failed test” if you did not get it. 

As the day progressed, it was clearer what happened, and that it involved all time zones in the US. 

4/13/21 – The FEMA is said to be close to locking in August 11 and 25 as the main and alternate dates for an NPT for the EAS this year.

Test is said to be based on the PEP system, which showed some major problems in 2019, during storms. WEA is also to be included.  More information is expected, including the Form (One, Two, Three) dates. 

3/29/21 – Digital Alert Systems has released software Version 4.3 for the DASDEC EAS boxes. The update s free, and contains security upgrades and a Single Sign On (SSO) feature so administering multiple boxes can be done with one login and password. 

3/22/21 – The FCC is moving the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry along. There are a number of items that broadcasters will want to notice.

You likely heard that the FCC wants the SECCs to ensure they are operating along the lines of the NPRM and adjust the information sent to the FCC on an annual basis; they want to provide from repeating of EAN would like to investigate Internet relay of alerts by streamers; they want to have more reporting of false alerts – and allow governmental agencies to report false alerts;  and make it impossible for cell phone users cannot opt out of  WEA alerts from the FEMA.

Comment and Reply Comment dates are set for relatively short periods: 21 days and 14 days. You are encouraged to read the NPRM and tell the FCC what you think on Proceeding 15-94. 

1/22/21 – There are reports of many stations not receiving the local RWTs nor those on each Monday  from the FEMA. This is almost exclusively Sage EAS boxes that have not been fully updated. The version 95 that many got last year did not include the CR rev5 patch. 

Checking your EAS receiver, under VERSION, you should see CR-REV5, P4     If not, get the latest download. 

1/21/21 – The National Weather Service offices that usually sent out an RWT on Wednesday, did NOT on January 20th, as part of an over-abundance of caution. Chief Operators reviewing logs should note the RWT was cancelled by the NWS.