FCC Releases Fifth EAS Report and Order

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Washington - Jan 10, 2012 - The Federal Communications Commission has released the Fifth Report and Order on the Emergency Alert System (EB Docket No. 04-296). The main thrust of the rulemaking is to further implement the Common Alerting Protocol into the EAS rules and to streamline the existing Part 11 Rules.

The Fifth Report and Order is the second of two orders that implement Part 11 rule changes stemming from the Third FNPRM. The other order, the Fourth Report and Order, addressed the single issue of establishing a new deadline of June 30, 2012, for meeting the various CAP-related requirements that this order codifies.

With the order, the FCC codifies in detail the general obligation the Commission adopted in the Second Report and Order in this docket to require EAS participants to be able to receive CAP-formatted messages. This will enable EAS participants not only to receive CAP-formatted alert messages, but also to redistribute those messages in the legacy EAS format over the current broadcast-based EAS. Specifically, CAP-formatted EAS alerts will be converted into and processed in the same way as messages formatted in the EAS protocol and will be used to generate enhanced visual displays for the viewers of the EAS station processing the CAP message.

In the ruling:
◊ The FCC requires EAS participants to be able to convert CAP-formatted EAS messages into messages set forth in the Industry Group's (ECIG's) ECIG Implementation Guide.
◊ The FCC requires EAS participants to monitor the A target="_new" href="http://www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws/">FEMA IPAWS system for federal CAP-formatted alert messages using whatever interface technology is appropriate.
◊ The FCC permits with certain limitations EAS participants to use intermediary devices (i.e. CAP converters) to meet their CAP-related obligations.
◊ The FCC requires EAS participants to use the enhanced text in CAP messages to meet the video display requirements.
◊ The FCC adopts streamlined procedures for equipment certification that takeinto account standards and testing procedures adopted by FEMA.
◊ The FCC eliminates the requirement that EAS participants receive and transmit CAP-formatted messages initiated by state governors.
◊ The FCC streamlines the rules governing the processing of Emergency Action Notifications (EAN) and eliminate as unnecessary several provisions in Part 11, such as the Emergency Action Termination (EAT) event code and the Non-Participating National (NN) status.

The FCC notes that the updated rules will impose minimal new costs to broadcasters since many EAS participants have already purchased and installed CAP-compatible EAS equipment. The agency feels in many cases the rules will result in decreased costs by removing redundant or obsolete sections from the EAS rules.

- continued on page 2

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