Important EAS Information from the MAB
Please read the following in full from MAB's Larry Estlack regarding CAP-compliant EAS units that may be in your station as well as a reminder about reporting results of last November's National EAS Test.

Michigan TV and Radio Engineers:

As I am sure you are aware, the FCC in their 5th R&O decided that use of the Text To Speech (TTS) function, specified by FEMA and available in all new EAS encoder/decoders as well as in Comlabs EMnet equipment, has been directed not to be used after April 23, the day the Report becomes law.

Therefore, to not be in violation of FCC regulation, before April 23rd you will need to do the following:

1. If you have not upgraded EAS equipment to the new CAP compliant gear yet, do nothing as, of course, TTS is not in any of the older EAS units.

2. If you have upgraded to new EAS CAP equipment and it is on-line, you will need to check the user manual or with your manufacturer on how to shut off this feature.

a. In Digital Alert Systems equipment, there is a radio button on the setup menu for enabling or disabling TTS.

b. If you have a new SAGE Endec, it requires a new software download (version 1.0h/74-2) available on their website: http://www.sagealertingsystems.com

c. If you have a convertor ahead of an older TFT or Gorman-Redlich, you should check with the manufacturer. Short term (until June 30, 2012), simply disconnecting the convertor should handle the problem.

3. If you are a LP station, I will be sending a separate email to you in about a week, regarding how we will do this in the EMnet units while still providing the best warning information we are able to do under the circumstances.

The State EAS committee (SECC) as well the Michigan Emergency Management community will be adding our voices to that of FEMA, several other states and likely NASBA and perhaps NAB, supporting a Petition For Reconsideration to the FCC. In plain terms, in my opinion, the FCC has made a serious mistake in discounting the importance of Text-To-Speech in emergency alerting. Despite its use by another branch of the federal government: NOAA’s National Weather Service for over 25 years, the decision to prohibit TTS in all new EAS units is puzzling and frustrating. Although TTS is not perfect, it can be improved by “teaching” pronunciations of some difficult or localized words such as some county names, rivers, streets, etc., it is often 85-95% correct out of the box and surely better than no warning at all.

In Michigan, our SOP is warning messages from civil authorities will be spoken by a human voice. However, in some cases, reality says that may not be possible, or if the audio arrives at the Local Primary Station corrupted. Defaulting to a text to speech message is surely more desirable than providing no warning audio message a fact apparently missed or discounted by the FCC in the R&O decision.

We would hope the FCC will reconsider this decision. However the wheels of bureaucracy move slowly. This may take several months to undo. We all pray that lives are not lost before this valuable feature can be reactivated on all units.

$$$$ >Also, unofficial word is that the FCC is poised to start enforcement proceedings against stations that have not reported their results from last November's National EAS Test. As of mid-March, about 60% of stations had not reported. Failure to report will result in an instant forfeiture (i.e., "write the FCC a big check"). At this point, results must be reported on paper. Instructions are at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/emergency-alert-system-nationwide-test

Please make sure your station did the required reporting or steps up to do it now.

I will be at the NAB 2012 Conference and most of my time will be spent on EAS issues, especially TTS, FEMA user procedures, State and Local implementation of CAP and other issues.

I’ll be back in the office April 23 and will try to answer any questions you may have.

Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2012 (Archive on Tuesday, April 24, 2012)
Posted by DanKelley  Contributed by