FCC to Review the Emergency Alert System

The Federal Communications Commission has launched a Notice of Proposed rulemaking to consider amending its rules governing the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to provide for national testing of the EAS and collection of data from such tests.

The EAS is a national alert and warning system that exists primarily to enable the President of the United States to issue warnings to the American public during emergencies. To date, however, neither the EAS nor its predecessor national alerting systems have been used to deliver a national Presidential alert. Moreover, while FCC rules provide for periodic testing of EAS at the state and local level, no systematic national test of the EAS has ever been conducted to determine whether the system would in fact function as required should the President issue a national alert, and, in their current form, our EAS rules do not mandate any such test.

The FCC proposes a yearly test of the system. It seeks public comment on the specific language of the proposed rule and its sufficiency to ensure an adequate framework for the conduct of national tests implemented by this agency in collaboration with FEMA and our other Federal partners. The FCC also seeks comment on whether the specific rule that it proposes is, on balance, the best way to implement national testing of the EAS, or whether different provisions should be adopted.

Comments are due in mid-February.



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