04.15.2011 11:50 AM
EAS Rulemaking Is Drafted, FCC Officials Say

The FCC is close to circulating a rulemaking among the commissioners aimed at changing Part 11 procedures to allow for Common Alerting Protocol delivery of “next-generation” EAS.

That’s according to Gregory Cooke of the FCC’s Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau during an EAS session here in Las Vegas at the NAB Show.

Any clarity will be welcome among broadcasters, who have been put in the position of having to plan to meet a compliance deadline later this year while not all rules and procedures are in place. Stations are anxious to see the proposal and submit comments.

CAP-compliant EAS encoders/decoders must be purchased, installed and operational by the end of September, unless the commission again extends that. One observer told Radio World at the convention that another extension seems unlikely, though he felt the FCC likely would not penalize broadcasters who had at least placed orders for the necessary gear by the deadline. Numerous radio owners and groups are still in the process of deciding which EAS products to adopt, and there is likely to be more big purchasing decisions (and price haggling) going on between suppliers and users this spring.

The commission also is prepping for a national test of the CAP-EAS; the date has not been set. Jamie Barnett, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau, said broadcasters will have at least two months notice before the national test. “We want to do preview testing” as well as post-test analysis, he said.

He reassured broadcasters worried they’d be fined for committing a mistake during the national test. “We’re not looking for enforcement actions. We’re looking to make sure the system works.”

— Leslie Stimson

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