Emergency Alert System - successor to the Emergency Broadcast System

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Here is the homepage of the EAS ...

EAS homepage

HINT: Click on the link and READ THE RULES!

Then, at the bottom of the page, you will find a VERY interesting link ...

Public Notice

a copy of which follows:



News media information 202/418-0500, Fax-On-Demand 202/418-2830, Internet http://www.fcc.gov or ftp.fcc.gov

September 3, 1998 85382


With the the concurrence of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the White House Communications Agency (WHCA), the Commission will no longer distribute Emergency Alert System (EAS) authenticator lists. The lists, commonly referred to as the red envelopes, have been in use since the inception of the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) in 1963. FEMA thanked the Commission for its on-going support of this important national security program.

When EAS was adopted by the Commission in 1994 to replace EBS, broadcasters and cable operators were required to install new EAS equipment. The new equipment can operate in an automatic mode without the need for human intervention and authentication. FEMA and WHCA were requested to comment on the matter and they recommended that use of the authenticator lists be discontinued.

Part 11 of the Commission's EAS rules will be amended to delete use of the authenticator lists. Also, the procedures in the EAS AM/FM and TV Handbooks will be revised to reflect that the use of the authenticator lists is discontinued. If you have any questions, please contact the FCC EAS Staff in the Compliance & Information Bureau at (202)418-1220 or 418-1226 or by email at EAS@fcc.gov.

-- FCC --


Welcome to the Brave New World!

maybe I just thought I was ...

-- hiding in plain (sight@edge. of no-where), December 11, 1999


what does it mean?

-- dgi (brain@stress.vacant), December 11, 1999.

It means that FEMA has direct control of every radio and tv station in the US. They can override all local programming and broadcast whatever they choose.

With the new technology in place, local stations have lost control of their own stations, the government has the ability to disseminate any spin they want, without annoying revelations of truth peeking through.

Alas, poor America! I knew her well.

With apologies to William Shakespeare!

-- hiding in plain (sight@edge. of no-where), December 11, 1999.

Not quite! The old EBS system was effective but cumbersome. It required activation of a special receiver keyed to a primary station within each service area. To activate the system, the operator, DJ or engineer on duty had to activate an alert system...something like a McMartin or TFT tone generator (that familiar tone you heard during on air "this is a test" episodes). If the system was simply testing, you logged the entries in the operating log and went on with what you were doing. The former EBS system DID require regular weekly tests "in voluntary cooperation with authorities". Major drawback in my opinion...the system was slow.

The best feature of the EAS system is that it is largely automated. Tests and Emergencies can be set to trigger the system automatically and get vital information on the air much faster. At the last station I worked at, the EAS cut in to the "on air" channel automatically during severe weather emergencies. It was FAST and DIRECT and that is what the whole idea is about...getting MAXIMUM info to the public in the shortest amount of time. IMHO, the EAS works very well.

Make no mistake! I do think FEMA is one of the worst of the bad guys, but I find it hard to be critical of this particular system. After 25 years in radio, I think I understand the importance of getting emergency information to the public in a prompt and efficient manner.

-- Irving (irvingf@myremarq.com), December 12, 1999.

Uh-HUH!!! I get it. The BEST feature of the EAS is that it is largely AUTOMATED ..... !! Perfect.


-- SH (squirrel@huntr.com), December 12, 1999.

Uhh ... Irving, don't look now, but you just made my point. Thanks.

-- hiding in plain (sight@edge. of no-where), December 12, 1999.

No...I certainly did not! The only automated function is the trigger mechanism and the resulting quicker time from notification to "on the air." Let me assure you that there is NO change in the content of any program run on any station. Any allegation to the contrary is FALSE!

Let me illustrate, if I may. Last February, we had a NASTY snow and ice storm around here. Conditions were terrible! The EAS at work kicked on three times in the course of 4 hours...with highly specific information about the weather...NOTHING else! I repeat, there is no change in regular program content. EAS is not some sinister takeover of the public airwaves. Rather, it is a streamlined and highly efficient method for communicating emergency information to the public. Period. That may be hard for some to accept, but it happens to be the truth.

It seems to me that you feel this some attempt to dictate content and I assume that comes from a lack of understanding of the actual process involved with "this is a test." Hope this helps!

-- Irving (irvingf@myremarq.com), December 12, 1999.

But wait, there is more. I should point out that our EAS triggers and information came from the following...

a) One of two large, regional AM stations that serve most if not all of the state.

b) The National Weather Service.

c) The state Emergency Preparedness Office, which frequently kicks in around here during a severe weather event.

IMHO, the deletion of the old authenticator lists is a non-issue. No matter the argument, the new system is faster and, I should add, NOT subject to error or oversight by the person on the DJ or engineer.

-- Irving (irvingf@myremarq.com), December 12, 1999.

No matter the argument, the new system is faster and, I should add, NOT subject to error or oversight by the person on the DJ or engineer.

So, in other words, FEMA can take over all the radio and TV stations without anyone at the stations being able to stop them? That certainly makes me feel safer!

-- Steve Heller (stheller@koyote.com), December 12, 1999.

ok - so the unit goes off automatically ... and someone there at the station already knows what the emergency is and what details the public needs to know, is standing by in the control room, and reads their own prepared message on the air?

Or do the announcements emanate from either the microwave link off the satellite feed (if your station is a Primary DES)or off the local UHF link (if your station is a Secondary DES) connected to the EAS decoder system utilize the station as a broadcast relay to the general public?

BTW - In 'REAL' emergencies, the EBS is literally a life saver. I know, I grew up in Hurricane Alley along the Texas Gulf Coast ... sat thru 6 of those humdingers ....

My point is in the potential of misuse of the technology ... FEMA overriding local dissemination decision-making authority and content. If you are Joe Six Pack, who would you be more likely to trust about a "National-International Emergency;" the Feds or the locals?

-- hiding in plain (sight@edge. of no-where), December 12, 1999.

I have addressed all of these issues. What else can I say? It works. It works very well. The information broadcast comes from the agency issuing the warning, mainly the National Weather Service in my experience. Last, but no means least, this NOT an automated pipeline for the Feds to broadcast "FEMA uber alles."

I have worked with it and the industry in general for 25 years. I'm acutely aware of being truthful when conveying emergency info to the public. I am also one of the first to criticize the media when they fail in that task.

-- Irving (irvingf@myremarq.com), December 12, 1999.


A discussion about the munitions used in Yugoyouknow pointed out that the men/women firing the weapons no longer have any idea what target is to be hit. They are simply given coordinates to enter as the target.

I think this does have to do with this thread-Remember, they hit the Chiyouknow embassy? Of course... the whole thing was a mistake. Kind of like the setupinseattle.

-- maid upname (noid@ihope.com), December 12, 1999.

Point taken - agreement reached Maid.

Serious point to all ... time for y'all to do a bit of digging ... over last few weeks - I clued y'all in on 'SHARES' and I know some of you are familiar with 'RACES' - Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service.

Try looking up the 'NECN' - National Emergency Communications Network. Then ask yourself, "Why is NECN suddenly supplanting, not supplementing, two very long-standing backup communications systems?"

Not everything is as it appears, especially to those involved for a long time. There is an apt 'truism' that might apply here: "Familiarity breeds contempt." Point is, work with things long enough and you soon begin to overlook the long-term subtle changes ...

-- hiding in plain (sight@edge. of no-where), December 12, 1999.

Has anybody had their tv announce "the following is only a test" and then nothing's happened but dead air? It's happened twice that I've noticed, once just this week. It doesn't matter if it's sinister if it doesn't work. My guess is that they're doing rollover tests and EAS is not compliant.

-- Chicken Ma (gotta@getgoin.com), December 12, 1999.

I don't think that ALL stations have EAS linked to them. It is mostly the the 50,000 watt clear channel AM stations. Also I think the length of the message can be as long as needed and repeated constantly. Some one with more brains than I may want to address my guess. Also if the .gov wanted to SHUT DOWN the airwaves, they could jam them all with a flick of the old switch and get out the word the Sun was doing it!

-- FLAME AWAY (BLehman202@aol.com), December 12, 1999.


I think the question is not the value of the system in an emergency, the nature of the message in the past, or even the timeliness - but rather the control of the station.

Is there also a provisional override for the automated system? Can the local folks 'switch' it off if they consider their local programming of more importance? If technically possible, can local stations legally make this decision? If so, would they then be subject to legal action by those potentially affected during an emergency - that is, would the local station's fear of civil suit make them leary of overriding the automatic alert?

IMHO as an innocent bystander, you have not answered any of these implied questions, but you may just not be attuned to their significance. Again, the real issue is the station's control - be it local, federal, or state.


-- Uhhmm... (JFCP81A@aol.com), December 12, 1999.

"Let me assure you that there is NO change in the content of any program run on any station. Any allegation to the contrary is FALSE! Let me illustrate, if I may. Last February, we had a NASTY snow and ice storm around here. Conditions were terrible! The EAS at work kicked on three times in the course of 4 hours...with highly specific information about the weather...NOTHING else!" ----------------------------------------------------------------------

Ahh, Excuse me, but I think you completely missed the point. I don't think anyone said that the EAS=Martian mind control. What would you expect it to say during a snow storm? "Oh, and by the way, We control the horizontal, we control the vertical"?

I think that the point was that given potential computer problems, MASSIVE automation might not be a really good idea. Also that EAS removes control to a central location. In general, Americans don't like control of anything being centralized.

-- MegaMe (CWHale67@aol.com), December 12, 1999.

Methink Hackers could have a hay-day with this system. I can see their minds rolling over all this info now.

-- Tommy Rogers (Been there@Just a Thought.com), December 12, 1999.

In considering the benefits of an emergency warning system I can appreciate it's lifesaving capabilities. However, it makes sense to remember that the govt. runs this thing, and their no.1 priority is NOT Mr. Average citizen. Their no.1 priority is to accomplish THEIR agenda whatever that may be.

They will be the ones who declare the emergency. They will be the ones who decide to tell us what message they want to tell us etc.. Other communication vehicles are effectively shut down under penalty of law (meaning economically you are finished, not to mention criminal penalties).

I don't discount real emergencies of a true threat to peoples lives, just want to point out the possibilities.

This is a short read and something to consider (mainstream news column)>http://orlandosentinel.com/opinion/columnists/reese/120999_ree se09_21.htm

[Title:What if what we know was chosen deliberately to deceive us?]

-- maid upname (noid@ihope.com), December 12, 1999.

I'll say it again - you just UNPLUG it in the broadcast booth. Not too difficult. FCC might not like it in the long run if they knew, but...

-- Sheri (wncy2k@nccn.net), December 13, 1999.

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