Federal Communications Commission
Compliance and Information Bureau
4542 Ruffner Street, Room 370
San Diego, CA 92111-2216
Ensuring Communications Excellence
EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Briefly explain the specifics of the weekly and monthly EAS testing procedures.
A: EAS testing will be performed on a weekly basis and each station must receive and transmit one test every week. The tests consist of a Required Weekly Test and a Required Monthly Test.
A) Required Weekly Test [See 11.61(a)(2)]
The Required Weekly Test consists of the EAS header codes and End of Message codes. A brief announcement may be used to introduce the test. This test will take approximately 10 seconds to conduct. Each station may transmit the weekly test at any time during the week. There is no requirement to re-transmit a weekly test upon receipt. Therefore, stations may schedule broadcasts of Weekly Tests at their convenience.
B) Required Monthly Test [See 11.61(a)(1)]
The Required Monthly Test consists of (1) the EAS header codes, (2) at least eight seconds of the two-tone attention signal, (3) an audio test script, (4) the End of Message codes. The monthly test can last approximately 30 seconds. Monthly Tests are originated by the Local Primary Stations or State Primary Stations. Monthly Tests will be conducted between 8:30 AM and local sunset on odd numbered months and between local sunset and 8:30 AM on even numbered months. Unlike the Weekly Test, the Monthly Test must be re-transmitted within 59 minutes of receipt. There is no need to send a weekly test during the week that a Monthly Test is performed.
Q: In regard to the Monthly Test Rule 11.61(a)(1)(iii), stations are required to retransmit the Monthly Test within 59 minutes of receipt. Will Stations with long playing formats have to break into programming to deliver a monthly test within 59 minutes of receipt?
A: There are no exceptions to the rule unless there is an equipment failure. However, the Monthly Test should be pre-scheduled so that everyone knows when it is coming. Therefore, stations with long playing formats will be able to plan around the Monthly Test.
Q: When a station goes off the air at night, what do they do about the Monthly Test received at night?
A: The EAS equipment will receive and record the Monthly Test performed at night. The station can then transmit the monthly test within 59 minutes after morning sign on. Since the monthly tests are scheduled, the station will know in advance when they have to perform this action.
Q: Who decides the schedule for issuing Monthly Tests?
A: Local Primary Stations and State Primary Stations decide exactly when the monthly tests shall occur. Local Primary Stations are encouraged to plan the process at the local level with all effected stations and pick a time which is convenient to all participating stations.
Q: If my station is monitoring multiple sources, what do we do when we receive multiple Monthly Tests? For example if my station is monitoring three broadcast stations, we may receive three Monthly Tests at three different times.
A: The Monthly test should be sent within 59 minutes of the original receipt. In addition, if the original receipt is still in the memory of the EAS Decoder, then the Decoder will recognize the second and third receipts as duplicates and not record them. The EAS Decoder will recognize duplicate messages by reading the header codes. Also you should be able to select the Monthly Test that contains the location code for your county or city of license.
Q: When Monthly Tests occur, will a viewer watching a broadcast station on a cable channel see two interruptions? One by the broadcast station and one by the cable company.
A: If the cable system is also required to send the monthly test on all channels, most likely yes. However, cable systems may elect not to interrupt broadcast stations based on written agreements between all concerned parties.
Q: The Commission’s Rules require that each participant monitor at least two sources with the EAS Decoder. Does monitoring a NOAA weather station count as one of the two required sources?
A: Monitoring a NOAA weather station counts as one of the two required sources only if it is specified that way in the FCC approved State EAS Plan. The State EAS Plan will list at least two required monitoring sources for each operational area. Each station should be sure to monitor, at minimum, the sources listed in the State’s EAS Plan for their respective EAS local area.
Q: What if my station can not receive the sources listed in the State EAS Plan?
A: If a station can not receive the sources listed in the State EAS Plan, alternate arrangements or a waiver may be obtained by written request to the FCC’s EAS Office. In an emergency, a waiver may be issued over the telephone with a follow-up letter to confirm the temporary or permanent reassignment.
Q: What additional equipment does the Commission require my FM Broadcast Station to purchase to provide emergency warnings using Radio Broadcast Data Systems (RBDS) transmitted via subcarrier?
A: RBDS Technology allows for frequency agility which permits receivers to search out and lock onto local emergency alert stations. Consumer receivers equipped with RBDS can be turned on selectively and automatically from a standby state, much like personal pagers. Increasing numbers of consumer electronic devices, such as car radios, are equipped to receive RBDS. The Commission encourages FM Broadcast Stations to provide emergency warnings via subcarrier using RBDS but does not require their use. Therefore, the Commission does not require FM Broadcast Stations to purchase any equipment to provide emergency warnings using RBDS.
Q: If I own multiple broadcast stations and operate them out of one studio location through a Studio to Transmitter Link, may I use one EAS Encoder/Decoder unit for all stations or do I have to purchase a separate EAS Encoder/Decoder unit for each individual station?
A: You may operate multiple stations through a single EAS Encoder/Decoder unit. However, if the stations are licensed to separate cities in different EAS Local Areas, then the stations may have different EAS monitoring assignments. In this case, the licensee should be sure that all required monitoring assignments can be performed through a single EAS Encoder/Decoder unit. If the one unit is not capable of performing all the required monitoring assignments then a waiver request may be submitted to the Commission. The waiver requests will be evaluated on a case by case basis.
Q: Some EAS Local Areas have an LP1 and an LP2 station operating from a single tower. Often times the LP1 and LP2 are owned by the same organization and operated through a single Studio to Transmitter Link. There is concern that if the tower gets knocked over or if the Studio to Transmitter Link goes down the EAS Local Area will lose both the LP1 and LP2 stations. Will the FCC approve such an EAS plan?
A: The Commission agrees that co-locating the LP1 and LP2 stations, as well as, operating them from a single Studio to Transmitter Link should be avoided. Local planners should be encouraged to separate the LP1 and LP2 stations. However, if there are no other stations willing to act as the LP1 or the LP2, then the Commission will accept such a plan as a last resort.
Q: What are the two required monitoring sources as listed in the State EAS plan?
A: Each station should monitor the LP1 and LP2 station in their local EAS Local area.
Q: What are the two required monitoring sources for the LP1 stations?
A: All LP1 stations should be connected to the state primary source, directly or indirectly. The LP1 stations should also monitor the LP2 station in the local EAS Local Area.
Q: May amateur stations relay EAS Alerts and Tests?
A: Amateur Stations may send EAS messages and act as relays of EAS messages, using the EAS message sequence, as long as they follow all the amateur rules.
Q: A licensee operating two stations through a single encoder/decoder unit states that he has difficulty finding a time to broadcast the weekly test without interrupting programming on at least one of the stations. Therefore, he would like to broadcast the weekly test live, from the encoder unit, over just one station and play a recorded version of the test, from a tape player, over the other station, at a later time. May he do this?
A: No. EAS messages must be transmitted directly from the EAS encoder unit. The only exception is for Low Power Television Stations and Class D FM Stations which are not required to operate encoder units.
Q: Does NOAA have the ability to relay national alerts through local weather stations?
A: It is NOAA’s National Weather Service Policy to allow their stations to relay national messages. However, not all NOAA weather stations are equipped with EAS encoder/decoder units. Therefore, NOAA’s ability to relay a national message varies from station to station.
Q: May a NOAA Weather Station be an LP2 source if that station has the ability to carry national EAS messages?
A: Yes, as long as the NOAA Weather Station personnel are aware of and will perform the duties required for relaying national EAS messages, including the EAS message sequence. In addition, the NOAA Weather Station must meet all the monitoring requirements and perform all the duties of an LP2 station as required by the state EAS plan.