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FCC seeks comment on CAP-based messaging integration into EAS

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) May 25 adopted a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on proposed changes to Part 11 rules governing the Emergency Alert System (EAS).

The changes codify the obligation of EAS participants to process alert messages formatted in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). The proposed revisions seek to integrate CAP-based alert messaging into the existing EAS and establish conditions to facilitate transition to “next generation alert mechanisms.”

The notice seeks comment in several key areas, including the scope of the Part 11 revision; the obligation to accept CAP messages; EAS equipment certification; the 180-day CAP reception deadline; CAP messages originated by state governors; revising the procedures for processing Emergency Action Notifications (EANs); and miscellaneous Part 11 revisions unrelated to CAP.

As related to the scope of the revision, the commission proposed in the notice that the focus should be on making sure CAP-encoded messages entered into EAS are converted and processed in the same way as messages formatted in EAS Protocol.

The notice tentatively concludes the agency should revise Part 11 rules to make clear that EAS participants must be able to convert CAP-formatted messages into EAS Protocol-compliant EAS messages “in accordance with the ECIG Recommendations for a CAP EAS Implementation Guide, Version 1.0.” The commission seeks comment on whether it should allow EAS Participants to meet the obligation by deploying intermediary CAP conversion devices.

The notice also seeks comment on whether and how the agency should incorporate compliance with CAP message transcoding into its existing certification scheme. It also asks for comment on how to perform compliance testing and what requirements it should adopt for modified EAS equipment. The notice also asks for comment on whether the commission should classify intermediary devices “as stand-alone devices subject to the same certification requirements as stand-alone decoders and encodes.”

The commission also asked for comment in the notice on whether the 180-day deadline for CAP compliance (Sept. 30, 2011) should be extended or modified so that it is triggered by an action other than the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s adoption of CAP.

Comments are due 30 days after publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.