FCC Releases National Test Handbook, Launches Test Reporting Site

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FCC Releases National Test Handbook, Launches Test Reporting Site

Oct 26, 2011 8:50 AM

Updated Nov 3, 2011

Washington - Oct 19, 2011 - The FCC has released the promised EAS Handbook specifically for the Nov. 9, 2011, national EAS test. The handbook provides EAS participants with instructions for test participation. A copy of the handbook must be located at normal duty positions or EAS equipment locations where an operator is required to be on duty and must immediately be made available to staff responsible for participating in the test. This special handbook supersedes all other EAS Handbooks only during the national EAS test on Nov. 9, 2011, at 2 p.m. ET.

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In addition, the FCC has launched the test reporting website. This site has forms that will collect information on the results of the national test. Broadcasters and cable operators are asked to provide information about their facilities, EAS equipment, and success or failure in receiving and broadcasting the national test alert. The FCC is collecting the information in three separate forms. Form 1 is to be used prior to Nov. 9 for stations to provide background information on their facilities and equipment. Form 2 is to provide confirmation that your station(s) received the alert and passed it on. Form 3 is to be used between Nov. 10 and Dec. 24 to provide more detailed information on the success or failure of the test.

Some broadcasters have begun entering data in Form 1, and have made some notes. Each station must report their results individually. Multiple stations under one owner will have to report for each station. Radio magazine asked about reporting needs for HD Radio multicast streams, and the answer is that the main channel (HD1) stream will cover the license.

Some stations have asked if a form is required for each transmitter site. The FCC tells us the answer is yes. The FCC and FEMA want to know where the test was relayed overall. When Radio magazine asked the FCC if a form must be submitted for each translator and booster, we were told that each translator/booster would have to file a form. However, this has been changed. The FCC realizes this would be a huge burden for some stations. For now, only the main channel transmitter needs to report the test results in the online form. The FCC also tells Radio magazine that the reporting form instructions have been updated to make this more clear.

The form asks for the coordinates of the station's transmitter site in lat/long. The form does not specify if this is to be entered in NAD27 or NAD83, and the FCC has told Radio magazine that it does not matter in this case. Use either standard. The broad stroke view the FCC and FEMA seek for the test will shows holes in coverage either way. Note, however, that the coordinates are to be entered with decimal notation rather than minutes and seconds. The FCC has an online converter if needed at transition.fcc.gov/mb/audio/bickel/DDDMMSS-decimal.html.

In our conversation with the FCC, we were told the agency may ask for additional information on translators and boosters at a later time.

There have been some reports that according to previous FCC notices, that a letter can be submitted to the FCC with some very basic information. This is based on information in the FCC's Third Report and Order (EB Docket 04-296) released in February 2011. In our conversations with the FCC, the FCC wants the information requested in the online form. If a station submits a letter with the basic info from the Third R&O, it's likely the FCC will require additional information. In short, the FCC asked us to remind stations to provide as much information as they can in the online forms.

The handbook and reporting forms are available at the FCC website at www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/emergency-alert-system-nationwide-test.

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