The FCC has proposed creation of a “national code” for a president to activate the Emergency Alert System, but it’s a technical change only.

“New emergency alert system will give Obama the power to flip a switch and address the entire nation,” reads one of the headlines about proposed changes to the Emergency Alert System (EAS). But this simply is not true. Yes, the FCC is proposing changes to EAS. And, yes, the changes relate to a president’s ability to use EAS in a national emergency. But presidents have had the capability for sending out national alerts via radio and TV since the mid-1950s.

What the FCC is actually proposing is a new “national code” for EAS, pretty much a change in the technical approach to be used if a president decides to use EAS which, by the way, no president has ever done. The proposal, if implemented, would require EAS participants (radio, TV, cable and satellite programmers) to change the settings on their EAS encoders, not much more.

Be assured that this headline won’t be the last one. This will spread like wildfire through social media. But, practitioners, don’t worry. You’ll need to become familiar with a new code. That’s all. You can read the proposed regulation change here.

(From Galain President Rick Wimberly’s Blog “Alerts and Notifications: Best Practices For Emergency Notification Programs”

in Emergency Management Magazine)