The FCC’s recent Notice of Proposed Rule Making outlining changes to the FCC’s Part 11 Rules governing the Emergency Alert System ("EAS") was published in the Federal Register today. Today’s publication establishes the timing for submitting Comments in this proceeding. Comments will be due by July 20, with Reply Comments due by August 4th. By its Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, released on May 26, 2011 (“NPRM”), the Commission suggested changes to its EAS rules intended to integrate Common Alerting Protocol or "CAP" based alert messaging into the existing EAS while laying the foundation for transitioning to next generation alert mechanisms. The current "SAME" protocol ("Specific Area Message Encoding") will continue to be used. But CAP messaging, which allows for more information to be conveyed with each alert, would be overlaid on the system. CAP is an IP based system, with messages delivered to stations by the Internet, and then converted into SAME for broadcast by the participating stations.
Please see our longer article from last week, which can be found here, discussing in detail the specific questions raised by the Commission’s NPRM. In addition, David Oxenford recently participated in a Town Hall Webinar on EAS and CAP issues, that was held on Thursday, June 16, 2011, sponsored by the National Alliance of State Broadcast Associations and the NAB. More information about the webinar can be found here, including an archived copy of the June 16th Town Hall Webinar, which should be available shortly.
Parties interested in filing comments with the Commission should gather their thoughts as the clock is now ticking. Comments can be filed with the Commission in paper, or electronically via the Electronic Comment Filing System.