The following are questions that were raised in regards to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new Emergency Alert System (EAS) requirements.  You can find the rules listed under Section 11 of the FCC’s Rules and Regulations portion of the website.  If you have any additional questions, please contact the FCC’s toll-free call center at (888) 225-5322.

What are the specifics of the weekly and monthly EAS testing procedures?

EAS testing will be performed on a weekly basis and each station must receive and transmit one test every week.  The tests consist of a Required Weekly Test and a Required Monthly Test.

 

Required Weekly Test [See 11.61 (a)(2)]

The Required Weekly Test consists of the EAS header codes and End of Message codes.  A brief announcement may be used to introduce the test.  This test will take approximately 10 seconds to conduct.  Each station may transmit the weekly test at any time during the week.  There is no requirement to retransmit a weekly test upon receipt.  Therefore, stations may schedule broadcasts of weekly tests at their convenience.

 

Required Monthly Test [See 11.61 (a)(1)]
The Required Monthly Test consists of the following:

  1. the EAS header codes;
  2. at least eight seconds of the twotone attention signal;
  3. an audio test script; and
  4. the End of Message codes.

The monthly test can last up to 30 seconds. Monthly tests are originated by the local primary station or state primary stations. Monthly tests will be conducted between 8:30 a.m. and local sunset on odd numbered months and between local sunset and 8:30 a.m. on even numbered months. Unlike the weekly test, the monthly test must be retransmitted within 15 minutes of receipt. There is no need to send a weekly test during the week that a monthly test is performed.

In regards to the Monthly Test Rule 11.61 (a)(1)(iii), are stations who have long playing formats required to retransmit the monthly test within 15 minutes of receipt?

There are no exceptions to the rule unless there is an equipment failure.  However, the monthly test should be prescheduled so that everyone knows when it is coming.  Therefore, stations with long playing formats will be able to plan around the monthly test.

If a station goes off the air at night, what is the proper protocol if the station receives the monthly test during night hours?

The EAS equipment will receive and record the monthly test performed at night.  The station can then transmit the monthly test within 15 minutes after morning sign on.  Since the monthly tests are scheduled, the station will know in advance when they have to perform this action.
Who decides the schedule for the Monthly Tests?

Local primary stations and state primary stations decide exactly when the monthly tests shall occur.  Local primary stations are encouraged to plan the process at the local level with all effected stations and pick a time that is convenient to all participating stations.
If my station is monitoring multiple sources, what do we do when we receive multiple monthly tests? For example, if my station is monitoring three broadcast stations, we may receive three monthly tests…

The monthly test should be sent within 15 minutes of the original receipt.  In addition, if the original receipt is still in the memory of the EAS decoder, then the decoder will recognize messages by reading the header codes.   You should also be able to select the monthly test that contains the location code for your county or city of license.
Will a viewer watching a broadcast station on a cable channel see two interruptions – one by the broadcast station and one by the cable company?

If the cable system is also required to send the monthly test on all channels the answer is most likely yes.  However, cable systems may elect not to interrupt broadcast stations based on written agreements between all concerned parties.
The FCC rules require each participant monitors at least two sources with the EAS decoder. Does monitoring a NOAA weather station count as one of the two required sources?

Monitoring a NOAA weather station counts as one of the two required sources ONLY if it is specified that way in the FCC approved State EAS Plan.  The State EAS Plan will list at least two required monitoring sources for each operational area.  Each station should be sure to monitor, at minimum, the sources listed in the State EAS Plan for their respective EAS local area.
What happens if my station cannot receive the sources listed in the State EAS Plan?

If a station cannot receive the sources listed in the State EAS Plan, alternate arrangements or a waiver may be obtained by written request to the FCC’s EAS office.  In an emergency, a waiver may be issued over the telephone with a follow up letter to confirm the temporary or permanent reassignment.
What additional equipment does the FCC require my FM Broadcast Station to purchase to provide emergency warnings using Radio Broadcast Data Systems (RBDS) transmitted via subcarrier?

RBDS technology allows for frequency agility which permits receivers to search out and lock onto local emergency alert stations.  Consumer receivers equipped with RBDS can be turned on selectively and automatically from a standby state, much like personal pagers.  Increasing numbers of consumer electronic devices, such as car radios, are equipped to receive RBDS.  The FCC encourages FM Broadcast Stations to provide emergency warnings via subcarrier using RBDS but does not require their use.  Therefore, the FCC does not require FM Broadcast Stations to purchase any equipment to provide emergency warnings using RBDS.
What is the purpose of the Red Envelope Authenticator if a station programs the EAS equipment to break into programming automatically upon receipt of an EAN or EAT message?

Some stations have informed the FCC that they will be operating the EAS equipment in the manual mode and that they still would like the Red Envelope Authenticator as a check when, and if, they ever receive an EAN message.  Stations that program the EAS equipment to break into programming automatically will have no need to check the Red Authenticator Envelope.
If I own multiple broadcast stations and operate them out of one studio location through a studio to transmitter link, may I use one EAS encoder/decoder unit for all stations or do I have to perform each one separately?

You may operate multiple stations through a single EAS encoder/decoder unit.  However, if the stations are licensed to separate cities in different EAS local areas, then the stations may have different EAS monitoring assignments.  In this case, the licensee should be sure that all required monitoring assignments can be performed through a single EAS encoder/decoder unit.  If the one unit is not capable of performing all the required monitoring assignments then a waiver request may be submitted to the FCC.  The waiver requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Some EAS Local Areas have an LP1 and an LP2 station operating from a single tower. Often times the LP1 and LP2 are owned by the same organization and operated through a single studio to transmit. Is this acceptable?

The commission agrees that co-locating the LP1 and LP2 stations, as well as operating them from a single studio to transmitter link should be avoided.  Local planners should be encouraged to separate the LP1 and LP2 stations.  However, if there are no other stations willing to act as the LP1 or the LP2, then the FCC will accept such a plan as a last resort.
What are the two required monitoring sources as listed in the State EAS Plan?

Each station should monitor the LP1 and LP2 stations in their local EAS local area.
What are the two required monitoring sources for the LP1 stations?

All LP1 stations will be connected to the state primary source through the state satellite network.  The satellite network should be connected directly to the EAS decoder and is the source of a national alert.  This will be one of the required monitoring sources for LP1 stations.  The LP1 station also monitors the LP2 station in the local EAS local area.
Can amateur stations relay EAS Alerts and Tests?

Amateur stations may send EAS messages and act as relays of EAS messages using the EAS message sequence, as long as they follow all the amateur rules.
A licensee operating two stations through a single encoder/decoder unit states that he has difficulty finding a time to broadcast the weekly test without interrupting programming on at least one frequency. Can the licensee ask for an exception from FAB?

No, EAS messages must be transmitted directly from the EAS encoder unit.  The only exception is for Low Power Television Stations and Class D FM Stations, which are not required to operate encoder units.
Does NOAA have the ability to relay national alerts through local weather stations?

It is NOAA’s national weather service policy to allow their stations to relay national messages; however, not all NOAA weather stations are equipped with EAS encoder/decoder units.  Therefore, NOAA’s ability to relay a national message varies from station to station.
Can a NOAA weather station be an LP2 source if that station has the ability to carry national EAS messages?

Yes, as long as the NOAA weather station personnel are aware of and will perform the duties required for relaying national EAS messages, including the EAS message sequence.  In addition, the NOAA weather station must meet all the monitoring requirements and perform all the duties of an LP2 station as required by the State EAS Plan.