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FCC Shares EAS Test Results

WASHINGTON—During the latest national test of the Emergency Alert System, more than 80% of television broadcasters successfully received the National Periodic Test alert, and then 75.5% of those retransmitted the code, which was on the lower end of all other participants.

That’s according to initial results of the 2019 Nationwide Test of Emergency Alert System released Dec. 9. This public notice includes “aggregated, anonymized data” derived from the Form Three filings submitted by EAS participants.

This annual test is intended to assess whether the EAS would perform as designed, an increasingly important question as some debate whether the current system is the best way to keep citizens informed in the smartphone age.

A total of 19,607 EAS participants spanning radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, Internet Protocol Television providers, wireline video systems and others reported they received the alert, and 15,986 then retransmitted it. Radio broadcasters make up the majority of EAS participants at 13,940, followed by the 2,717 television broadcasters and the 2,626 cable system providers.

Interesting, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau noted that nearly half of those who reported receiving the alert said that they were monitoring three or more over-the-air sources at the time. Almost 70% of participants who filed Form Three indicated that there were “no complications” in receiving the test, but about 12% said there were issues with the test’s audio quality. Also, nearly 75% indicated there were no complications during the retransmission, although a small minority said they encountered “other” difficulties.

Read the public notice (DA 19-1244) online here.