FCC Adopts Order to Improve EAS Alerting
September 30, 2022
In a September 29 release, the Federal Communications Commission updated its Emergency Alert System rules so that alerts delivered over television and radio are more informative and easier to understand by the public, particularly people with disabilities.
The Emergency Alert System, which is used by government agencies to send alerts and warnings to the public over television and radio, is comprised of both a legacy system and an Internet-based system, with the latter offering superior messaging capabilities. The updated rules require broadcasters, cable systems and other Emergency Alert System participants to transmit the Internet-based version of alerts to the public when available, rather than transmit the legacy version of alerts.
The increased use of Internet-based alerts, in Common Alerting Protocol format, will produce higher-quality audio messages, improve the availability of multilingual alerts and ensure that more of the alerts displayed on television screens contain all of the information provided by the government.
The updated rules will also replace the technical jargon that accompanies certain alerts, including test messages, with plain language terms so that the visual and audio messages are clearer to the public.
As a result of today’s action by the Commission, people who are deaf or hard of hearing will have access to alerts in a viewable format that more closely matches the audible versions of these alert messages on television. In addition, people who are blind or visually impaired will have access on their radios to national alerts containing more detailed audio information. Clearer and more accessible alerts will help all Americans prepare for and respond to emergencies.
MAB Director of Technology Dan Kelley and State EAS Chair Gary Blievernicht stated that it is unclear at this point what these new changes will cost broadcasters. It could be as simple as a software update, free or otherwise.