Mixed Reviews On National EAS Test
November 10, 2011

Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET, the first-ever national test of the Emergency Alert System took place, but a number of discrepancies were reported across the country. According to The New York Times, the issues primarily were reported by cable and satellite TV subscribers. Different cable subscribers reported hearing Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" play instead of the EAS test, or their cable box simply switched the channel to QVC, or the test never appeared at all. Others reported the test happening minutes after it was scheduled to, or lasting longer than it was slated for.

However, part of the reasoning behind the national test was to try out this very issue: to see how well the system would work when triggered nationwide at the same time. "We always knew that there would probably be some things that didn’t work and some things that did," a FEMA official told the Times.

A statement was released yesterday from the multiple government agencies overseeing the test, saying, "This initial test was the first time we have tested the reach and scope of this technology and additional improvements that should be made to the system as we move forward. Only through comprehensively testing, analyzing and improving these technologies can we ensure an effective and reliable national emergency alert and warning system."

The agencies added they are looking forward to working with media companies to "improve this current technology and build a robust, resilient and fully accessible next generation alerting system that can provide timely and accurate alerts to the American people."

NAB EVP of Communications Dennis Wharton said in a statement, "Our initial feedback is that most radio and television stations ran the Nationwide EAS test successfully, although some isolated glitches may have occurred. We look forward to continuing to work with our federal partners to diagnose and improve the EAS system."

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Jon Zellner
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