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Emergency Alert System (EAS)

What is EAS?

The Federal 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 (EBS).

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
  • Acting as liaison with the National Advisory Committee and Local Emergency Communications Committees (LECCs)
  • Performing studies to improve emergency communications.
  • Developing a state EAS plan for broadcast and cable media.

The LECCs 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 2002 Report and Order amending EAS Rules

The FCC issued a Report and Order amending the Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules which took effect May 16, 2002 and did the following:

NWS will issue a Service Change Notice well in advance of implementing new event codes. All EAS equipment manufactured after August 1, 2003 must be capable of receiving and transmitting the new event codes.


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Last Updated: April 1, 2014