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FCC Improves Emergency Alert System (EAS) Messages


Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission

The FCC has updated its Emergency Alert System rules so that alerts delivered over radio and television are more informative and easier to understand by the public, particularly people with disabilities. EAS, which is used by government agencies to send alerts and warnings to the public, is comprised of both a legacy system and an Internet-based system, with the latter offering superior messaging capabilities.

The updated rules require broadcasters, cable systems and other Emergency Alert System participants to transmit the Internet-based version of alerts to the public when available, rather than transmit the legacy version of alerts. The increased use of Internet-based alerts, in Common Alerting Protocol format, will produce higher-quality audio messages, improve the availability of multilingual alerts, and ensure that more of the alerts displayed on television screens contain all of the information provided by the government.

The updated rules will also replace the technical jargon that accompanies certain alerts, including test messages, with plain language terms so that the visual and audio messages are clearer to the public.

As a result, people who are deaf or hard of hearing will have access to alerts in a viewable format that more closely matches the audible versions of these alert messages on television. In addition, people who are blind or visually impaired will have access on their radios to national alerts containing more detailed audio information.

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