June 30 is a day most engineers are aware of, even though they''re not watching for it like other deadlines. June 30 is the day when all radio stations must have Common Alerting Protocol-compliant EAS equipment installed and working. The date has been looming for months, so it shouldn''t be much of a surprise to anyone.
Still, I have a feeling there are plenty of stations that have dragged their feet and are not ready.
What''s required of stations by June 30? By that date, the FCC expects all broadcasters to have certified CAP EAS equipment in place. The equipment is supposed to be connected to the Internet, and it is expected to poll the IPAWS aggregator. If you have your updated EAS equipment installed, you should have already followed the device''s instructions to setup IPAWS polling. That data feed is accessed at https://apps.fema.gov.
The entire process of implementing CAP has had several starts and stops. A common concern is that stations didn''t want to buy a new EAS unit without it being certified as compliant. All the EAS encoder/decoder manufacturers have been working to obtain FCC certification. As I write this Digital Alert Systems has obtained the certification. I expect the other manufacturers will receive their certifications shortly. If you haven''t ordered your new EAS unit, you probably won''t be ready for the deadline.
About the time you receive the June issue in your mailbox, FEMA will hold a webinar to discuss the specifics of what is entailed for stations to be CAP-compliant. The webinar is scheduled for June 6. I don''t expect much new information to be presented, but the webinar should offer a concise overview of what stations need to do.
So once CAP is in use, what other changes are in store for EAS? For one, state and local EAS plans most likely do not have any information on CAP. There were some other changes to EAS in the rules that took effect in April, and state and local plans likely don''t incorporate those changes either.
It seems some states have at least thought about updates. Others are hesitant. And some EAS pros speculate that as many as half the states don''t have a functioning State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC). Since state plans must be approved by the FCC, even those states who have planned ahead may not have a revised document in place by June 30.
But states and local areas should not sit idle and do nothing. There are some clear elements, and those can be addressed first. Other FCC changes, such as a national location code, are still unknown. Don''t worry about them yet. But adding information about CAP, the 8-second attention tone, the elimination of non-participating stations, the removal of the Emergency Action Termination (EAT), and the renaming of FIPS codes to ANSI numbers (which is only a name change) can all be updated in plans now.
Many of the changes to EAS are items that have been discussed for some time, so they should be of little surprise to most broadcasters. Likewise, we knew the CAP-compliance deadline was coming, so ordering and installing an updated system should have been in works.Now I wonder how many stations will receive FCC visits in July.
Pick Hits Videocasts
On the last day of the 2012 NAB Show, Radio magazine visited most of the Pick Hits winners'' booths and shot video demonstrations of the honored products. Those videos are posted on YouTube, so check them out: www.youtube.com/RadioMagOnline.