Sep 8, 2010 - A new radio spot for oil company Arco is causing problems with EAS decoders. Radio stations report that recent ads from Arco include the phrase "this is only a test" and what appears to be an imitation EAS header. The problem is that header is not a total fake. While the FSK burst sounds faster than standard EAS tones, KCST in Florence, OR, noticed that the radio spot was tripping its EAS decoder that monitors KKNU in Eugene, OR.
Chris Murray, the chairman of the Oregon ECC, contacted Darryl Parker at TFT for more information. Parker says he received a call from KWCH in Wichita, KS, also reporting false trips from the spot.
The Society of Broadcast Engineers will be issuing a warning to inform stations of the potential problem.
Listen to the radio spot: Arco_Spot_with_EAS_header.mp3
The message event code is using the required weekly test (RWT). Unless station decoders are set to automatically forward an RWT for the Florida counties noted, the station EAS decoder will only log the event and take no action. The logged event is what has caused confusion at some stations.
FCC rules state that no person may transmit or cause to transmit the EAS codes or Attention Signal, or a recording or simulation thereof, in any circumstance other than in an actual national, state or local area emergency or authorized test of the EAS.
Since this article was posted, additional information has been provided by Harold Price of Sage Alerting.
The EAS-like tones are within the EAS mark/space frequencies, but the data is not complete and not a valid EAS header. Price also notes that the two-tone EBS signal is overlaid with the EAS signal, which could further mask the data.