Broadcasters are proud partners with the federal government in delivering lifesaving public safety messages in times of crisis. Since the 1950s, broadcasters have been the backbone of the nation's public warning system, and even in this digital age, radio and TV are the lifelines for emergency information.
Broadcasters want to ensure that the next generation of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) improves public warning and is integrated with other warning systems, including wireless alerts, as established by the Warning Alert and Response Network Act of 2006 (WARN Act).
For the past several years, the FCC has been working to improve the Emergency Alert System and expedite the development of a next-generation network. In 2007, the FCC revised its rules to "ensure the efficient, rapid and secure transmission of EAS alerts in a variety of formats (including text, audio and video) and via different means (broadcast, cable, satellite and other networks)." It did not, however, incorporate wireless alerts because Congress enacted the WARN Act, which established a voluntary public warning responsibility for wireless carriers.
The FCC's 2007 decision also required EAS participants to accept a message using a common messaging protocol based on Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), no later than 180 days after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) publicly publishes its adoption of such a standard. Participants must also adopt whatever next-generation delivery systems FEMA develops, no later than 180 days after the standards for those systems are publicly released.
In 2009, NAB worked to ensure that next-generation EAS developed in a manner consistent with broadcasters' critical role in emergency warning, and continues to support the annual EAS Summit organized by the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations.
NAB continues to represent the interests of broadcasters concerning public safety warning and information in various venues, including committee and working groups organized by FEMA, the National Communications System National Coordinating Center and the FCC.
Broadcasters are proud partners with the federal government. Since the 1950s era predecessor to EAS, broadcasters have been the backbone of public warning. Even in this digital age, Internet and broadband service is disrupted when power is lost. Radios and battery-operated TVs are the lifeline for emergency information. In addition, broadcasters' emergency information goes well beyond the architecture of the System. Broadcasters go live with wall-to-wall coverage during major incidents. The next-generation EAS was envisioned in the post-9/11 world as a means to integrate other technologies or platforms to reach Americans that may not be listening to the radio or watching television when a major incident occurs. Broadcasters fully support this goal.
CAP was developed to ensure that emergency managers, emergency operation centers and all systems that receive critical information from those sources would be speaking from the same language. Importantly, the concept behind the Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS) was that an emergency manager could use the CAP to originate a single emergency message that could then be disseminated over many platforms.
Recently, FEMA has reached out to industry stakeholders to seek input on next-generation warning. Broadcasters and broadcast engineers have actively participated in FEMA's IPAWS practitioners working sub-group. Broadcasters have also closely coordinated with federal partners in establishing realistic timeframes for the testing and deploying of CAP-enabled messaging, at the federal, state and station level.Action Needed