Review of the Emergency Alert System
The EAS is a national alert and warning system that exists primarily to enable the President of the United States to issue warnings to the American public during emergencies.
Today, however, neither the EAS nor its predecessor national alerting systems have been used to deliver a national Presidential alert. Moreover, while our Part I I rules provide for periodic testing of EAS at the state and local level, no systematic national test of the EAS has ever been conducted to determine whether the system would in fact function as required should the President issue a national alert, and, in the current form, our EAS rules do not mandate any such test.
In the Second Report and Order in this docket, the Commission noted that it is vital that the EAS operate as designed. In the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted concurrently with the Second Report and Order, the Commission sought comment on various issues relating to maintaining the quality of the EAS, including additional testing. Finally, in the Chairman's recent 30-Day Review on FCC Preparedness for Major Public Emergencies, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau noted that concerns had been raised regarding the frequency and scope of EAS testing. The Bureau recommended that the three Federal partners responsible for EAS - the Commission, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS), review the testing regime to see where improvement could be made.
After careful review of the Second FNPRM comment record, we now amend our EAS rules to specifically provide broad parameters for an initial national EAS testing and data collection. We adopt these rules based on the widespread support for national testing of the EAS in the comment record. The rules we adopt today represent an initial response to the record developed in this docket sufficient to allow the Commission and its Federal, State and industry partners to develop plans and program equipment for an accurate and efficient initial national test of the EAS, and to provide a framework for subsequent national tests.