Live code EAS testing likely to create 'cry-wolf' public response, SBE says

The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) has announced its opposition to live code testing of EAS and NWRSAME codes for system tests by the National Weather Service, NOAA Weather Radio and local authorities.

Recently, real emergency event codes have been used with alerts from the National Weather Service, EAS and local authorities to test consumer EAS receivers — a practice that has been recommended nationwide.

In opposing the practice, the SBE states that “cry-wolf alerts” may diminish acceptance of such warnings by weakening confidence in EAS alerts to the detriment of the public when a real alert is issued.

Additionally, this approach to testing may discourage broadcasters from participating with volunteer EAS programs, the society said. According to the SBE, a negative consequence of using real codes for warnings is that deaf TV viewers and those seeing a monitor in a public place where the sound is turned down will have no way of telling that the EAS warning scrolling across their screens is a test.

According to SBE president Chriss Scherer, a new technology known as Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) will ensure that aural alert information is reproduced as a visual crawl. When that technology is in place, the use of live codes would be more appropriate, he said.

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