FCC to Update Emergency Alert Service

At its June meeting, the FCC is proposing to adopt new rules and seeks additional comment on regulations pertaining to the Emergency Alert Service.  On January 1, 2021, Congress enacted Section 9201 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA21) which directs the Commission, in consultation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to adopt new rules regarding EAS and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).

At its June meeting the FCC will take steps to implement the National Defense Authorization Act.  It also will adopt a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking initiating a proceeding to seek comment on additional EAS improvements requested by FEMA. The Report and Order will:

  • Combine the current non-optional class of WEA “Presidential Alerts” with FEMA Administrator Alerts into a new alert class called “National Alerts,” and clarify that WEA National Alerts may be nationwide or regional in distribution.
  • Require certification of annual SECC meetings, amend the Commission’s review and approval process of annual SECC plans, and establish an EAS Plan Content Checklist.
  • Specify that the FEMA Administrator or a State, local, Tribal, or territorial government may voluntarily report EAS or WEA false alerts to the FCC Operations Center at FCCOPS@fcc.gov, informing the Commission of the event and any relevant details.
  • Clarify how alert originators can repeat their alert transmissions.

What the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will do:

  • Seek comment on whether to delete, redefine or replace certain EAS emergency event codes that are no longer relevant or may cause public confusion.
  • Seek comment on whether to update the EAS to support a “persistent” display and notification of EAS messages that warn the public of severe threats to loss of life.

Because NYSBA is very much involved in the EAS system, we will be examining this rulemaking carefully.  To see a copy of the FCC’s proposed decision click HERE.


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