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000000: EAS Code Deadline Approaches

EAS decoders must be able to process the code by July 30

U.S. radio broadcasters have until July 30 to confirm that their EAS decoders are able to process the newest national location code.

Back on Jan. 1, the Federal Emergency Management Agency officially began rolling out use of the six-zero national location geocode (000000), designed to ease the process of sending an Emergency Alert Notification or National Periodic Test across the nation or — in cases where an issue is close to home — to focus an alert at a regional level. (On a related note, authorities have officially announced the date of the next national EAS test, in which 000000 plays a part.)

Although many EAS devices already have the new location code installed in firmware, a number of broadcast associations — such as those in New Hampshire, Michigan and Alabama — are trying to keep their member stations up to date by offering their constituency step-by-step guidelines on what engineers need to do in order to be compliant.

The Alabama Broadcasters Association recently suggested its members take the following into consideration, depending on their EAS manufacturer and device:

Digital Alert Systems DASDEC
The DASDEC currently supports the “six zeros” 000000 FIPS code (which identifies counties in the U.S.). The only configuration recommendation is to assure the 000000 code is included with the FIPS selections of the CAP Decoder. This assures that a 000000-coded location will be processed by the CAP Decoder logic.

Sage Alerting System
New firmware was set to be issued in mid-July. The firmware will ensure the national test goes out, even if there is no filter to cover it. According to ABA, Sage will email broadcasters when a software update is available for the Sage Digital ENDEC. (ABA reminded its stations that the original grey Sage unit model 1822 will no longer be type accepted after the July 30 deadline, even if it is being fed a new CAP converter.)

All decoders with firmware 9.8 include the six zeros. Broadcasters should ensure that they program the NPT code to transmit immediately.

All TFT EAS products support recognition of the FIPS code “000000” as well as the NPT code. A document outlining steps necessary for auto-forwarding of NPT event can be found here.

Meanwhile the Michigan Association of Broadcasters cautioned that stations that continue to operate with EAS gear that has not been upgraded successfully to recognize the 000000 code will be in violation of FCC rules, “a violation that subjects the licensee to a significant monetary assessment and notice of violation upon inspection,” the association wrote on its website.