Emergency Alert System (EAS)
What is EAS?
Communications Commission (FCC) designed the Emergency
Alert System (EAS) so officials can quickly send out important emergency
information targeted to a specific area. After conducting extensive tests
of competing technologies, the FCC ruled that the EAS would be a digital-based
automated system and use coding protocols similar to NOAA
Weather Radio (NWR) Specific
Area Message Encoding (SAME). EAS sends out alerts not just to broadcast
media but also to cable television, satellites, pagers, Direct Broadcast
Satellite, High Definition Television, and Video Dial Tone. EAS also accounts
for the needs of special populations such as the deaf and those with special
language requirements. In 1996, EAS replaced the Emergency Broadcast System
While NWR SAME is the National Weather Service's (NWS) primary entry into EAS, you can receive EAS messages via radio and TV stations and many other media. FCC rules also requires broadcasters to monitor at least two independent sources for emergency information, ensuring that emergency information is received and delivered to viewers and listeners.
Under the EAS guidelines, each state has formed a State Emergency Communications
Committee (SECC). The SECC is chaired by a broadcast and cable representative
who was nominated by the SECC membership and appointed by the FCC. Duties
of the SECC include:
- Presiding over training and workshop sessions
as liaison with the National Advisory Committee and Local Emergency
Communications Committees (LECCs)
- Performing studies to improve
EAS plan for broadcast and cable media.
The LECC support the SECC mission on
a local level. The number of LECCs varies widely
from state to state. Each LECC is responsible for
an area about the size of a typical county. LECC
members include broadcasters, cable operators, emergency
management officials, other technological personnel,
amateur radio operators, utility companies in the
service area, and others who have a responsibility
or interest in local emergency communications.
FCC Report and Order amending EAS Rules
On February 26, 2002, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued
the Report and Order amending the Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules.
The Report and Order is available online in html, Acrobat and Word formats.
The Report and Order became effective May 16, 2002.
The 56-page Report and Order states the FCC adopted some key
provisions of the 2001 Notice
of Proposed Rulemaking, the NWS supported. Significantly,
the FCC adopted a critical provision permitting broadcasters to preselect
which EAS messages they wish to display and log. Additionally, the FCC
adopted a naming convention for old and numerous new
event codes, and NWS
marine area location codes. The report added several weather event
codes that were omitted in the original FCC EAS rules. The FCC also added
a Child Abduction Emergency event code for use in connection with
local, state and regional "AMBER" (America's
Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Plans.
stations and cable systems are not required to upgrade their existing EAS
equipment to add the new event and location codes, until they replace such
equipment. All EAS equipment manufactured after August 1, 2003
must be capable of receiving and transmitting the new
event codes. To provide for an orderly transition to the use of
the new codes, NWS Headquarters coordinated with warning partners to develop
an NWS implementation schedule and outreach information.NWS Headquarters
prepared a fact sheet entitled National
Weather Service and Changes to the Emergency Alert System (EAS), dated
June 23, 2004.
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