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Satellite, HD Radio to Take Part in EAS

Satellite, HD Radio to Take Part in EAS

The FCC is expanding its Emergency Alert System rules to encompass digital radio and TV stations, as well as satellite radio, satellite TV and direct broadcast satellite services.
All must comply with the EAS rules by Dec. 31, 2006, with the exception of DBS, which gets an extension to May 31, 2007.
As of these dates, digital and satellite media must be able to carry national EAS alerts — the same rules that apply today to analog stations. Carriage of state and local alerts remains voluntary, said attorney JeanAnn Collins of the Office of Homeland Security of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau at the commission meeting.
The commission also seeks comments on ways to develop a comprehensive digital EAS system.
“The Further Notice looks at how do we get there and what are the technical constraints as we try to move in the right direction,” said Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy. “It puts us on the right path and recognizes that as a regulatory agency, we have to keep pace with new technology.”
The agency also seeks comment on how EAS can more effectively reach people with vision and hearing disabilities, as well as those who do not speak English as their primary language.
Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein referred to Spanish-speaking residents of New Orleans who were effectively cut off from warnings during and after Hurricane Katrina.
“This item encourages voluntary transmission of multilingual information. I strongly encourage all EAS participants to provide this kind of service to viewers and listeners,” Adelstein said.
Issues relating to participation of state and local authorities in EAS are also up for discussion.