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On September 29, 2022, the FCC adopted a Report and Order to make messages from the Emergency Alert System (EAS) more accessible and easier to understand. 

The Report and Order:

  • Directs EAS Participants to transmit certain messages in an IP-based format rather than the versions in the legacy EAS format, which usually convey less information; and, 
  • Requires EAS Participants to replace the jargon that now automatically appears in the text of certain messages, including EAS test announcements, with plain language that will be more easily understood by the public and provide more accurate information for individuals who cannot access the audio message.

On November 10, 2022, the Commission released a Public Notice, reporting that the Report and Order was published in the Federal Register with an effective date of December 12, 2022, and announcing the following compliance dates for distribution of the improved EAS messages:

  • As of December 12, 2023, all EAS Participants, including radio broadcasters, television broadcasters, and operators of satellite, cable TV, and wireline video services, must start transmitting EAS messages in the IP-based format, when available, and replace the current jargon in the legacy format for the national alert originator code, national test code, and (except for cable systems) national emergency code with the plain language versions.
  • Operators of cable systems have until March 12, 2024, to implement the plain language version for Presidential alerts (national emergencies) in existing set-top boxes if possible through a software upgrade and make such set-top boxes available to customers who request them.  Operators of cable systems have until December 12, 2028  to ensure that all set-top boxes in their systems can display the revised language for Presidential alerts.   

Public Notice:
URL:  https://www.fcc.gov/document/pshsb-announces-effective-date-certain-eas-rules  
Word:  https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-22-1189A1.doc
PDF:    https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-22-1189A1.pdf  
Text:    https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-22-1189A1.txt   

Report and Order:
URL:   https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-improves-emergency-alert-system-messages
Word:  https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-22-75A1.docx  
PDF:    https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-22-75A1.pdf  
Text:    https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-22-75A1.txt

For general information about EAS accessibility, visit: https://www.fcc.gov/eas-faq-accessibility.  For specific questions on the EAS item, please contact Bill Wallace, Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, at (202) 418-2716, or William.Wallace@fcc.gov.  Individuals who use videophones and are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) may call the FCC’s ASL Consumer Support Line at (844) 432-2275 (videophone).

Wednesday, November 16, 2022