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EAS Experts Suggest Steps to Entice Participation

Richard Rudman says topic is timely given June CAP compliance deadline

Richard Rudman and members of the Broadcast Warning Working Group have suggested a direction to go in now that the FCC has eliminated the so-called “governor must carry” provision in its Fifth Report and Order on EAS. The proposal is called “Two Steps Forward.”

Rudman is a broadcast engineer and an influential voice in the broadcast emergency alerting community. In the Broadcast Warning Working Group, he’s joined by other EAS experts Ann Arnold, Clay Freinwald, Adrienne Abbott, Suzanne Goucher, David Ostmo and Barry Mishkind.

The notion is timely given that EAS participants must have CAP-compliant devices installed and operational by June 30.

According to Rudman and the group, the “governor must carry” provision was put into the notice of inquiry early on because of broadcaster complaints — for instance, that governors were not using EAS to tell traffic fleeing from a hurricane that all highways had been converted to head north.

“The problem is that governors do not really tell people what to do when their lives and property are threatened,” he writes on the EAS Forum. “That’s a job for the professionals at the National Weather Service and at local and state emergency management agencies. By the time a governor has enough information to be able to issue a personal message, harm may have already come to people at risk.”

He refers to governor’s must carry as the FCC’s way to get around the commission’s inability to mandate carriage of local operational area and state EAS events beyond the EAN code — which means in essence that EAS remains a voluntary program, according to Rudman.

As a “carrot” to entice more EAS participation, by broadcasters as well as message originators, the BWWG has two components to its proposal.

The group proposes steps to foster agreement among state and local EAS originators, to create a short list of safety, weather and civil warning codes based on local assessment of disasters and emergencies.

The second step would for broadcasters and cable companies to agree to carry those EAS warning codes.

The message from the BWWG to EAS originators and entry-point stakeholders: “Please think about doing your part to take Two Steps Forward,” writes Rudman.