In an earlier post, Radio World reported that SiriusXM requested from the FCC a limited 30-month waiver from its obligation to transmit EAS tones on its compressed channels. During that period, it said that it could develop, test and implement a technical solution that would address issues identified in an earlier petition.
The filing drew one comment. In it, communications technology expert Sean Donelan agreed with SiriusXM’s claim that EAS rules are inconsistent for different types of participants. He goes on to add however, that the issue is not unique to Sirius XM, and that many EAS participants multiplex programming channels using greater levels of compression for secondary and niche channels.
Donelan supports SiriusXM’s petition with two conditions — first, they transmit all required weekly, monthly and national tests on at least one predictable and widely accessible channel using a codec that is compatible with AFSK bursts. Second, SiriusXM transmits required monthly and national tests, and actual EAS activations on all programming channels with the EAS Header, Attention Signal, audio message and EOM; including those channels with AFSK-incompatible audio codecs. On channels with AFSK-incompatible audio codecs, the AFSK data bursts should sound like EAS messages to a human, but do not need to activate EAS decoders.
Donelan goes on to note that in a future rulemaking, the commission should revise its EAS testing rules to restore consistency between multichannel participants, including DBS, SDARS, analog and digital cable systems, IPTV systems, digital radio and HDTV broadcasters. This would be possible, claims Donelan, by using digital control signals instead of audio AFSK.