Important Update for EAS Participants Using Sage Alerting Systems

In a significant development, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has responded to industry concerns by granting a crucial extension for Emergency Alert System (EAS) participants who use Sage Alerting Systems equipment. This decision, announced on November 28, 2023, provides these participants with additional time to comply with new regulations related to emergency alert formatting.

Background of the FCC’s Decision

Originally, the FCC had set a compliance deadline of December 12, 2023, for EAS participants to prioritize the transmission of alerts in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) format. CAP-formatted alerts offer enhanced information and accessibility compared to traditional legacy alerts. The rule requires participants to check if a CAP version of an alert is available before transmitting a legacy version.

The Extension Request

Sage Alerting Systems, a major vendor in the EAS equipment market, indicated that necessary firmware updates would not be released until close to the original compliance deadline. This delay, combined with the holiday season, presented significant challenges for EAS participants. Consequently, REC Networks and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) filed a joint request for a 90-day extension.

FCC’s Rationale for Granting the Extension

The FCC agreed that the delay in the firmware update and the timing of its release posed challenges for EAS participants, particularly those with fewer resources, such as low-power stations. Recognizing the importance of ensuring widespread and effective compliance with the new CAP prioritization rule, the FCC found good cause to grant the extension. This decision reflects the FCC’s commitment to maintaining a robust and reliable EAS while acknowledging practical implementation challenges.

Implications of the Extension
  • New Deadline: EAS participants using Sage Alerting Systems now have until March 11, 2024, to comply with the CAP prioritization requirement.
  • Continued EAS Functionality: Despite the extension, the public will continue to receive EAS messages without any disruption. The extension only affects the prioritization of CAP-formatted messages.
  • Expectations for Other EAS Participants: EAS participants not using Sage equipment are still expected to comply with the original December 12, 2023, deadline.

The FCC’s decision to extend the deadline for Sage users demonstrates a pragmatic approach to regulatory compliance, balancing the need for enhanced emergency alert capabilities with the realities of technical and logistical challenges. ATBA members using Sage Alerting Systems should take note of this important extension and plan accordingly to ensure compliance by March 11, 2024.