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Florida TV Stations to Test Mobile EAS

LAS VEGAS—Several Florida TV stations are testing Mobile Emergency Alert System in anticipation of hurricane season.

Orlando NBC affiliate WESH-TV, owned by Hearst Television, is conducting a test of the ATSC-standardized M-EAS, showing how a banner announcement could easily be overlaid on mobile TV signals transmitted from the broadcaster and received on a consumer device. Later this spring, stations in West Palm Beach, including Fox affiliate WFLX-TV Ch. 29 owned by Raycom Media; NBC affiliate WPTV-TV Ch. 5 owned by E.W. Scripps Co.; and ABC affiliate WPBF-TV Ch. 25, owned by Hearst Television; will add M-EAS capability
to their existing emergency alerting equipment, enabing M-EAS to be received on two types of mobile DTV consumer receivers.

“Information about fast-approaching severe weather is often one of the most critical needs of TV viewers, and M-EAS can be configured to distribute short announcements, longer audio and video instructions, maps, text and other vital information without having to rely on the cell phone network. Past experience shows that severe weather can play havoc on cellphone systems while most broadcasters with robust transmission capability stay on-air to advise viewers and report on incoming storms,” said Pat Laplatney, vice president of Digital Media for Raycom Media, speaking on behalf of the Florida broadcasters.

The full capabilities of the M-EAS are on display this week at the NAB Show. M-EAS is the centerpiece of the Mobile TV Pavilion in the convention center’s North Hall. Vendors providing equipment for the NAB Show demonstrations include LG Electronics and its Zenith R&D laboratory, GatesAir, Monroe’s Digital Alert Systems and Triveni Digital.

The stations testing the M-EAS are part of the Pearl partnership of broadcast companies. Pearl is a venture of eight TV station groups that was formed four years ago to explore and pursue new opportunities in digital media. Pearl members have a shared interest in exploring new digital opportunities, including participation in the Dyle mobile TV initiative that provides mobile TV programming to viewers in Orlando and West Palm Beach, Fla.