National Test of the Emergency Alert System Scheduled for September 28, 2016

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced in a Public Notice that a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will take place on September 28, 2016, at 2:20 PM EDT. The purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS in the event of a national emergency. If necessary, the FCC’s back-up secondary test date is scheduled for October 5, 2016. All EAS Participants, including radio and television stations, must to be ready to receive the national EAS test signal on both the primary and secondary test dates. Additionally, on or before August 26, 2016, all radio and television EAS Participants must register and submit their identifying information to the FCC and complete the filing of Form One of the FCC’s new EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS).

The FCC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency conducted the first-ever nationwide test of EAS in November 2011. Following the November 2011 national test, EAS Participants were required to report test result data, either on paper or by filing electronically using the FCC’s temporary electronic filing system. Now, based on its review of the 2011 national test data, the FCC has indicated that the goal of the ETRS database is to address issues identified during the November 2011 national test and to simplify the collection of national test information and results going forward. The ETRS database generally requires EAS Participants to file licensee-identifying information, day of test data, and detailed post-test data related to any nationwide test.

Prior registration is required to access the ETRS database, and the FCC’s registration page can be found here. In order to register and file a form using ETRS, television and radio station licensees must be prepared to provide basic licensee and station information, including, among other things, the legal name of the EAS Participant, the contact information and address for the individual completing the form, and the station licensee’s Federal Registration Number (FRN) and password. After registering, parties will receive an email from the FCC with their ETRS account identification information to be used to access ETRS.

The ETRS database can be found here, and it consists of the following three forms:

  • Form One: Requires information identifying the EAS participant (as noted above, the form is due by August 26, 2016). EAS Participants will have until September 26, 2016 to update information or correct any errors in their initial Form One filings.
  • Form Two: “Day of Test” form used to confirm receipt of the national test signal and is required to be filed at or before 11:59 PM EDT on September 28, 2016.
  • Form Three: Requires radio and television stations to submit detailed information regarding their receipt of the national alert, including reporting any difficulties a station had receiving or passing along the national EAS alert during the test. Form Three must be filed on or beforeNovember 14, 2016.

Stations are strongly encouraged to take all steps necessary to prepare for the September 28, 2016 test. This includes television and radio stations ensuring that their EAS equipment is currently operating in compliance with the Commission’s rules and can receive and process the “national periodic test code” and the “six zeroes” national location code.

Should you have any questions about EAS or the upcoming national EAS test, please contact any of the attorneys in our office.

Categories: Media