E-mail Storm Ensues
November EAS RMT Not Sent
The November 4, 1998 Regular Monthly EAS Test was not sent by KOGO as scheduled. An thought-provoking thread ensued on the SD_EAS mail group. The following were the best of the crop. Note that messages were edited only to remove e-mail addresses and redundant information. If you wish to subscribe or unsubscribe to the group, visit the BROADCAST.NET subscription page.
From: Jeff Williams Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 1998 4:00 PM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: [SD_EAS] November RMT Due to an internal problem (one which I will not elaborate on) the LP-1 was not able to send out the scheduled RMT. It is stated in our local plan that a make-up RMT will occur at the same time one week later. Plan on next Wednesday, November 11 to receive an RMT between 2:45-2:50 p.m. I'm sorry for this inconvenience.
To: email@example.com Subject: RE: [SD_EAS] November RMT Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 19:36:13 -0500 Sender: Oscar Medina Jeff, I can't emphasize how disatorous blowing a test is for EAS. In our case, KNSD preempts a commercial to run the RMT. When the test is blown, we are forced to put in a PSA or Promo as a spot cannot be inserted into the, now open, avail. Running the test the following week, forces us to drop another commercial. I'm fairly certain the other tv stations are doing something similar. I would suggest that instead of running the RMT a week late, it simply be cancelled until the following month and all the stations will simply log the failure to receive the test from the LP1. You are quite literally costing all the radio and tv stations money. A failed test not only give EAS a black eye, it costs everyone income. Oscar
From: John A. Buffaloe Sent: Thursday, November 05, 1998 8:36 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: [SD_EAS] Comments on failed EAS Hi Jeff, First of all, my kudos to you for taking on such a monumental task as organizing the EAS operations for San Diego. It's one of those jobs nobody wants and everybody criticizes. The way this system operates, it's going to cause problems when something doesn't go exactly as planned. I personally believe the tests should not be pre-arranged. The point of having this system is to be able to respond and act in an unforeseen situation. The system itself is inherently flawed in that it doesn't readily or easily accommodate the type of response or operation for which it was intended. By planning our monthly tests, we are simply putting on a show for the FCC. We are training our operators to react only to known activation's. We are accommodating our General Managers and Traffic departments in their quest to squeeze every dollar out of inventory. We are not improving our system of informing the public as was intended. I submit that we have degraded that ability to the point of! nonexistence. My stations have successfully handled every single test of the system as long as I have taken the responsibility of warning them that one was coming at a specific time, reminding them of the procedures for retransmission, and in most cases standing with them and telling them which buttons to push and when. As my own experiment, I did none of the above last month, and not one of my stations (the Disney automated station excepted) got the test out. I didn't get a single phone call. We have created this situation by providing our operators with advance notice and remedial instruction on a monthly basis. I'll not denigrate my operators, as I suspect it is the same at all or most of the facilities. I have stated publicly that this is a system that will not work and I stand by that. I believe the public will be best informed during an emergency by the broadcasters whose business and interest it is to do so. A system capable of recording an NWS alert and retransmitting garbled audio is not that impressive of an achievement, particularly given the likelihood that it won't be retransmitted at all for any number of reasons by most of the facilities charged with doing so. As engineers, if we are to make this flawed system work, then I think a test should be just that. They should arrive unannounced at all hours of the day. I would propose that they be logged as received and not retransmitted. We can certainly ensure that our equipment is capable of retransmission without going through the monthly dog and pony show. When and if an actual, useable activation occurs, it should be our responsibility to get it retransmitted. I know what I suggest is contrary to the FCC rules, but perhaps by having unplanned, truly random tests that interrupt regular programming we can get the attention of the owners, who can then have their FCC counsel and lobbyists go to the FCC for a system that will work. Maybe they'll even consult some station engineers next time. Have a good day Jeff. John Buffaloe
From: Alfredo Pogue, KGTV To: "email@example.com" Subject: RE: [SD_EAS] Comments on failed EAS Date: Thu, 5 Nov 1998 09:21:30 -0800 Can you take me off the mailing list please. Thank you.
Date: Fri, 06 Nov 1998 09:17:59 From: June Butler To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: [SD_EAS] Failed RMT on 11/4/98 By now everyone knows the scheduled RMT didn't air. I spoke with the FCC's Director of Emergency Communications (Frank Lucia) concerning this matter. He advised that in the event that an RMT doesn't air, a radio station can run an RWT in its place and log that the LP1 didn't air the RMT. Please indicate in your logs that the LP-1 reported a technical difficulty and run an RWT this week. Jeff has also agreed that another RMT will not be aired this month. It is up to every broadcast station licensee to assure that their radio operators are trained to run RWTs and RMTs. If a station arbitrarily chooses not to run the tests, or the actual EAS warnings (which may be run in place of tests) as spelled out in the local plan, a station may be subject to violation notices or monetary forfeitures. Jeff Williams and Oscar Medina are to be commended for their role in making EAS work in San Diego. June E. Butler Compliance Specialist FCC 4542 Ruffner St., Rm. 370 San Diego, CA 92111-2216
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Edited by Gary Stigall. Updated 05-Nov-98.