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FEMA, the FCC, and the Broadcaster

I attended a panel discusion on the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) and EAS this morning. There were reps from FEMA and the FCC there; the session was well attended. The panel talked about the history of EBS and EAS and the evolution to the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

An important point was raised about the cost involved in changing over to IPAWS and that the federal government should help as it's in the public's interest. We also heard concern about the CAP alert being transmitted to the station only over the Internet. What if it's down or unreliable? An idea was raised about using satellite radio as well as satellite TV to spread the alert directly to stations. The chairperson brought up the the fact that many cell phones have FM tuners built in and that they could be a much more reliable alert delivery system than a cell phone network. Cell networks are liable to go down in a storm. The FCC representatives did not wish to respond, and it was the same when they were asked about their support for EAS and their desire to reduce the broadcast band and how they could reconcile those two opossing views.

Lastly, this broadcaster busted the FEMA booth and was told about the upcoming 180-day window to be able to receive CAP alerts. They told me that it's up to the FCC to enforce that rule. I stepped across to the FCC booth (right next door) and asked them about the requirment.

The person I talked to did not know anything about the CAP requirement. He tried looking it up on the FCC Web site but could not help me.

With this kind of response from the FCC at NAB, we may be having to help ourselves when it comes to CAP and IPAWS.