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Radio News: Emergency Alert System could wither under Trump

Nov 28, 2016 10:50 pm
Those annoying sounds that interrupt television and radio programming for "a test of the emergency broadcasting network" may be a thing of the past. If there had been an actual emergency, the Emergency Alert System, or EAS, might not be there to go off in a Donald Trump administration. Mark Jamison, part of Trump's telecom transition team, has written that, "Most of the original motivations for having an FCC have gone away," Jamison, who leads the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida, has argued that the FCC could be replaced by a much smaller agency that just hands out licenses for the airwaves for cellphone calls, mobile data, and TV signals. That would mean no more Emergency Alert System, when the government takes over all the airwaves, interrupting programs to tell viewers and listeners about its views on said emergency. Recently the Federal Communications Commission has been upgrading the system, with another nationwide test of the improvements last month. The Dec. 15 FCC Open Meeting includes a vote on a Proposed Rulemaking to enhance the Emergency Alert System, "as a tool for community emergency preparedness. The Report and Order improves alerting organization at the state and local levels, builds stronger community-based alerting exercise programs, and protects the EAS against accidental misuse and malicious intrusion. The Further Notice seeks comment on proposals to leverage technological advances to improve alerting and additional measures to preserve EAS security.