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Alaska tests Emergency Alert System using EAN code

On Jan. 6, 2010, at 10 a.m. local time, a live test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will be conducted throughout Alaska. This test will be similar to live code testing conducted each year for the state's Tsunami Warning System and the Amber Alert System. The test will be conducted with the Alaska Broadcasters Association, the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the State Emergency Communications Committee, in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Unlike Alaska’s Tsunami and Amber Alert tests, this event will exercise the Emergency Action Notification (EAN) event code. This is the code established for the president of the United States to address the nation. This code has never been used in a test exercise. Alaska was chosen to be first to test the EAN because of its isolation and — according to a notice from the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management — its well run and documented live Amber and Tsunami tests.

The goal of the test is to ensure that all broadcast stations have properly operating equipment. The Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management notice specifically says “The FCC has stated to us [it has] no intention of taking enforcement action in connection with EAS participants who take part in the exercise as directed by FEMA.” This citation is an obvious reference to the failed KWVE test from 2009 that led the commission to levy a fine against the station.

Alaska notes that the test will run between two and three minutes, stating that “this is considerably longer than a regular EAS test.” Alaska will issue PSAs for broadcasters to notify the public of the pending test and its longer length. Graphics will also be provided for video outlets to show during the test.