Stations across the country seemed on the ball and ready to file quickly within the ETRS database after the National EAS Test on Sept. 27. But how did the EAS Test Reporting System respond?
Some reported smooth sailing, however, others ran into issues when it came to accessing the site and filing.
The ETRS is maintained by the Federal Communication Commission and was designed as a way for EAS participants to more simply submit day-of-test data and post-test data related to a nationwide EAS test. The system is designed to ease the data entry burden on EAS participants, encourage timely filings, along with minimizing input errors.
But this time around, as happened with the September 2016 EAS test, a number of participants reported trouble logging into the ETRS database soon after the EAS test was completed.
One particular problem that seemed to pop up again and again: trying to log in via the Internet Explorer browser.
“Internet Explorer did not work and the site never gave any information about it,” said Garry B. Horne, chief engineer with Signal Media. “When you hit the ‘submit’ button, nothing happened.” Horne opened up a different browser — Firefox — and was able to submit the forms properly.
After emailing the FCC link on the ETRS site, he received guidance to try the browsers Firefox or Chrome, “but it was kind of frustrating because you think that you have something not right in the form, but that was not the case,” he said.
Engineer Bill Croghan with Lotus Broadcasting ran into a similar problem after attempting to file Form Two for nine stations. After filling out the batch processing, he found that none of them were accepted. After doing a redo in Firefox, the system worked without a problem.
Frustratingly, ETRS did not even save the drafts, he said.
“I forgot that the ETRS had had difficulties in the past with Internet Explorer and tried to file all nine forms using it,” he said. “[But] I went back and did it again with Firefox and had no problem.
Next, he’s off to file FCC Form Three, which asks for more detailed information on the Sept. 26 test.
Some, like Morris St. Angelo, owner of Grace Radio in Slidell, La., also ran into some bumps.
After logged onto the ETRS web page to file Forms Two and Three, he said “it took two tries to get it right. The web page is not very user friendly.”
The same was true for Dave Billeci at KPOO(FM) in San Francisco, who said the station found it “difficult to file our report with the FCC with their website issues.”
Others reported fairly smooth sailing.
“I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get into the ETRS system immediately following the test and file all the Form Twos,” said Cris Alexander, chief engineer with Crawford Broadcasting.
He did notice that ETRS slowed down a bit, as presumably more and more people logged in and started filing. “But it didn’t crash or hang up,” he said. “By the top of the following hour I had completed all the filings.
Hal Kneller with Solmart Media experienced no problems with the ETRS database in this round, even though he did run into some issues with the initial Form One a couple of months ago when a page that he completed wouldn’t be accepted. “I went back the next day, started all over, it worked fine,” he said.
This time around, he filed both Forms Two and Three one after the other for three stations and had no slowness or response problems. He logged on about 90 minutes after the test ended — partly to “test and see if they were actually able to function at a time when I thought a lot of stations would be filing at least Form Two,” he said.
“It was simple and straight forward. No problems logging in,” he said.
The ETRS is designed to give the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the FCC valuable data on a number of items related to the EAS test, including the number of total EAS participants that took part, and how many of those alerts were sent and received successfully.
Last year, ETRS data entries from the September 2016 EAS test revealed that 95.5% of all broadcasters received the initial message, with 87% successfully relaying the message. Last year ETRS also offered insight on potential problems, including equipment configuration issues, out-of-date equipment software and audio quality issues.