FCC Adopts EAS Rules/Sets Deadlines

Last week, the FCC adopted a Fifth Report and Order in its Review of the Emergency Alert System. It covers the CAP-related Part 11 revisions, equipment requirements, next generation distribution systems and EAS equipment certification. The FCC concluded the scope of CAP-related obligations addressed in the order "must be limited to those necessary to ensure that CAP-formatted alert messages distributed to EAS Participants will be converted into and processed in the same way as messages formatted in the current EAS Protocol."

EAS Participants will be required to monitor FEMA's IPAWS system for federal CAP-formatted alert messages "using whatever interface technology is appropriate." EAS Participants will be able to use "intermediary devices" to translate between CAP messages and EAS (with some limitations) to meet their CAP-related obligations. Broadcasters will not be required to receive and transmit CAP-formatted messages initiated by state governors.

Effective June 30, 2012, TV stations must transmit a visual message containing the originator, event, location and the valid time period of an EAS message constructed in accordance with EAS-CAP Industry Group Recommendations. Stations that have deployed an "intermediary device" to meet CAP requirements have until June 30, 2015, to meet the EAS-CAP Industry Group Recommendations, but are still required to transmit a visual message that contains the originator, event, location and the valid time period of the EAS message.

The size of the FCC document illustrates the complexity of adding CAP to EAS and the challenges that the commission faced in implementing this action.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.