Thursday, November 10, 2011

FEMA EAS Test grade = F ...

From TomTaylor:

FCC says the first-ever National EAS Test was supposed to “identify gaps” – and it sure did. One of those “gaps” is the entire state of Oregon, where the primary didn’t fire, so stations further down the chain never got the chance to participate. In many other jurisdictions, TRI hears reports of garbled audio, no audio, or the regular-programming content of a feed station. Some stations didn’t start at 2pm Eastern, and some apparently aired their own local version of an Emergency Alert System test. In Minneapolis, the Primary Entry Point station was WCCO (830) – and it didn’t receive the notice (EAN) from FEMA. In Washington, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman says the situation revealed by the test is "unacceptable." One TRI reader with a long memory slyly says – “Here’s an idea – why not just tell people to turn their radios to 640 and 1240 to receive their instructions?” That was the old Conelrad system of the 1950s, which gave way to EBS and now EAS. The system needs work. But the FCC says that was the whole point.

Re-do planned --

At a guess – a potential second test is coming in late Winter/early Spring 2012. (We got five months' notice on this one, so figure next March-April.) Some of the EAS improvement ideas we’re hearing from TRI readers – Fix the form. Participants are supposed to fill out three different forms, and the pre-test Form 1 confusingly asked for the transmitter location to be submitted in decimal format – not the way the FCC traditionally keeps those numbers, and not easily calculated (you have to go “off-sheet”). Also, a GM in the Midwest says when you get to the post-test Form 2 on the Commission website, “the last question is, ‘Did you receive the emergency alert?’ The only options were yes or no. In our case, we did receive the test, but the content between the burst tones was completely inaudible. Noisy, but inaudible. I monitored other stations in the market and heard the same. Would have been nice of the FCC to add space on Form 2 for additional comments, as it appears many of us received the test ‘technically’, but certainly didn’t broadcast the intended message.”

Comment here.