The Emergency Alert System is a national public warning system that requires TV and radio broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service providers, direct broadcast satellite service providers and wireline video service providers to offer to the President the communications capability to address the American public during a national emergency. As outlined below, the system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information such as AMBER (missing children) alerts and emergency weather information targeted to a specific area.
Below is a collection of EAS information that we believe you will find useful:
Brian Oliger has updated the Washington Metropolitan EAS Plan with monthly test dates and times for 2021. With the exception of the times and dates of the tests, the EAS plan is a work in progress and has still not been approved. Once all necessary parties approve the plan, we update this page accordingly. Until then, you should check here from time to time to keep up-to-date on any changes.
If you represent an operational EAS entity in the Washington, DC area, it may be beneficial to participate in our moderated EAS e-mail discussion list. For information on subscribing, please send us an e-mail with your name and the organization that you represent.
As you know, the Washington metropolitan area overlaps the jurisdictions of Virginia and Maryland. Richmond’s SBE Chapter 60 member Allen Kass maintains a list of Virginia EAS information on his personal web page. The entire Virginia State plan, which was revised in 2017, is posted on the Virginia EAS Website. We understand Baltimore’s SBE Chapter 46 will provide Maryland information when available.
The FCC provides a number of EAS tools. Visit the FCC’s EAS Page for more information. Notably, the FCC adopted rules requiring broadcasters, cable operators and other multi-channel video programming distributors to make local emergency information accessible to viewers with hearing disabilities. The order calls for local programmers to use closed-captioning, open captioning, crawls, scrolls or some other visual technique to provide information on emergencies, including weather conditions, areas affected, evacuation orders, approved shelters, road closures and school closings, among other things. “This is really a matter of life and death for millions of Americans who are deaf or hearing-impaired,” FCC Chairman Kennard said.
Manufacturers of EAS equipment are also a good source of data. TFT and Sage Alerting Systems provide several documents that apply to EAS in general and their EAS units in particular. Additionally, EAS information is offered by MTS, Monroe Electronics, HollyAnne and Gorman-Redlich for their respective EAS products.
Yes, EAS is still experiencing severe growing pains throughout the country. The FCC may be considering several changes in the EAS protocol. You MUST let your state coordinator and the FCC know when you have a problem. If you rebroadcast something, such as a state monthly test that you think was improperly executed, be sure to log the discrepancy to protect yourself if someone complains later or your logs are reviewed.