The FCC has sent an email to those registered in the EAS Test Reporting System (“ETRS”) for tomorrow’s nationwide test, asking them to (1) stagger the filing of their EAS Form Two based on their time zone, and (2) not file Form Three until the day after the test. The FCC explained that the request—the staggered filing times are not mandatory—is meant to “maximize the resources available to process Form Two filings.”
Specifically, the FCC would like EAS participants to file Form Two, “Day of Test Reporting,” in the ETRS as follows:
- Facilities in Eastern Time Zone – 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm EDT
- Facilities in Central Time Zone – 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm EDT (4:00 pm to 6:00 pm CDT)
- Facilities in Mountain Time Zone – 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm to 6:00 pm MDT)
- Facilities in Pacific Time Zone – 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm EDT (5:00 pm to 6:30 pm PDT)
- Facilities in all other time zones – 9:30 pm to 11:59 pm EDT
The request seemed last-minute, coming so soon before the test, which is scheduled to take place tomorrow, Wednesday, September 28, 2016, at 2:20 pm Eastern Time (if necessary, the back-up test date will be October 5, 2016, at 2:20 pm Eastern Time). As we previously discussed, it raised some eyebrows when the FCC announced that EAS participants are required to file Form Two by 11:59 pm Eastern Time on the same day as the test itself, leaving less than 10 hours after the test for all EAS participants to file. The relevant FCC rule says that participants must file “within 24 hours . . . or as otherwise directed” by the FCC. As for Form Three, “Detailed Test Reporting,” it must be filed “within 45 days following a nationwide EAS test,” which makes it due on or before November 14, 2016.
There are also new details available on what the test itself will look and sound like. According to senior FEMA staff, the audio portion of the test, including attention signals, will last approximately 50 seconds. In addition, FEMA was asked to delete a previously included statement in the text scroll—“No action is needed. This is only a test”—to avoid creating a difference between the aural and visual presentations, which had the potential to generate confusion among those with hearing or vision issues.
The test will start when FEMA sends the alert message, which will be in both English and Spanish. The alert will use a new nationwide test event code, NPT, and a new nationwide geographic zone code, 000000. As of July 30, 2016, all EAS Participants were required to have equipment in place capable of receiving and passing these codes. If you want to see what the 2011 test looked like for TV viewers, YouTube can help you there.
It will be interesting to see if the 2016 nationwide EAS test improves on the 2011 edition. As we previously wrote, the FCC found a number of technical areas where the system could be improved in the 2011 test. Let’s hope that the capacity of ETRS to process filings, or a lack thereof, is not a lesson learned from the 2016 national test.