Washington - Jul 13, 2007 - The FCC's update to the Emergency Alert System rules, which has been stalled for some time, has been released. From the broadcaster's point of view, the most significant change is the addition of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) as a key component to EAS. The protocol will be required for use once FEMA formally adopts it.
Participation in the EAS has been expanded to include wireline video service providers. It also expands the required participation beyond Presidential messages. EAS participants must now receive and retransmit state-level alerts triggered by a state governor. In addition, EAS participants are required to transmit geo-targeted alerts to areas smaller than a state.
Included in the action is a further notice of proposed rulemaking to include distribution to non-English speakers and people with disabilities.
Radio magazine observation: Implementing CAP as part of the EAS has the potential to correct many of the current shortcomings of the system. Expanding the required participation to include state governors also provides a valuable communications channel, but this channel must be properly used or its intended benefit will be lost.
Also, while the intent to deliver messages to non-English speakers and people with disabilities is good, the practicalities of accomplishing this via a reliable and worthwhile means is no small task. It is likely that this step will not be completed for some time, or an ineffective or impractical system will be implemented.
Read the complete text of the order at hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-07-109A1.doc. EB Docket No. 04-296