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Nevada Broadcasters Association

Engineering Archive

This message is from Sage Alerting Systems regarding your Sage Digital ENDEC model 3644. It applies only to users in the United States.

Sage has released a firmware update that you must install to permit your ENDEC to continue to receive EAS CAP alerts from FEMA. A FEMA signing certificate will expire at 11:45am June 24, 2018; if you do not install this update, you will not receive CAP messages from the IPAWS system after that date.

This release also updates the SSL certificate roots that your ENDEC must have in order to download alert audio files from state or county alert originators.

Please read the release notes at https://www.sagealertingsystems.com/release1-1/cr-rev4-release-notes.pdf. They will explain why this release is necessary, and what Sage will do in a subsequent release to reduce the number of this type of update in the future.

The installation process is straightforward, as is described in the release notes. Installing this update will not change any of the settings on your ENDEC.

If you have any questions regarding this update, please email us at support@sagealertingsystems.com or call 914-872-4069 and press 1 for support. If you get voice mail, please leave a message and we will call you back. 

Broadcaster Access to Disaster Areas Becomes the Law of the Land

Posted March 24, 2018

By Scott R. Flick

Yesterday’s enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (feel free to read it, it’s only 2232 pages) was welcomed by broadcasters.  If you’ve been following the trade press, you’ll know that’s largely because it not only added a billion dollars to the FCC’s fund for reimbursing broadcasters displaced by the spectrum repack, but for the first time made FM, LPTV, and TV Translator stations eligible for repack reimbursement funds.

At a time when trust in government has hit historic lows, Chairman Walden of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and other congressional leaders stepped up, making sure the government lived up to it original promise that broadcasters retaining their spectrum in the Spectrum Incentive Auction would be “held harmless” in the post-auction repack.  Of course, a spirited lobbying campaign by NAB and state broadcasters associations across the country didn’t hurt.

What few seem to have noticed, however, is while that short term influx of reimbursement dollars is certainly welcome for stations being involuntarily relocated in the repack, the Consolidated Appropriations Act had other language in it that will bring a longer-term benefit to broadcasters and the public they serve.

One of the lessons Hurricane Katrina and subsequent disasters brought home is that in the modern age, communications is every bit as vital to saving lives as disaster relief supplies and helicopters.  A blaring warning siren may be fine for telling the public to dive into the nearest bomb shelter, but weather-related catastrophes require more precise communications, such as telling people where they need to go to avoid or ride out the disaster, as well as where those disaster relief supplies can be found.

These lessons were originally hard won in Florida, where dedicated broadcasters stayed at their stations rather than protect their homes in a hurricane, only to find their transmissions halted when the station generator ran out of fuel and government officials prevented fuel trucks from entering the disaster area to resupply stations.  Quick and cooperative action between government officials and the Florida Association of Broadcasters often cleared the way for specific resupply missions, but everyone realized this ad hoc approach was less than ideal.

For that reason, state broadcasters associations in numerous states pushed for, and in many cases obtained, state legislation granting broadcast station personnel “First Informer” status, allowing them access past police lines to keep information flowing to the public in a disaster area.  The result was a significant improvement, particularly in disaster-prone states, but it still resulted in a patchwork approach, with some states issuing disaster credentials to broadcast personnel, other states taking a variety of approaches as to how broadcasters identify themselves to emergency personnel with swiftness and certainty, and still other states simply having no reliable disaster area access for broadcasters at all.

Which brings us back to the Consolidated Appropriations Act.  Hidden in over 55,000 lines of text are just 20 lines that change the definition of “essential service provider” at a disaster site.  Those twenty lines of text expand the definition of an essential service provider to include “wireline or mobile telephone service, Internet access service, radio or television broadcasting, cable service, or direct broadcast satellite service.”

As essential service providers, these entities are now empowered to access disaster areas under the provisions of an existing law, which provides that:

Unless exceptional circumstances apply, in an emergency or major disaster, the head of a Federal agency, to the greatest extent practicable, shall not—

(1) deny or impede access to the disaster site to an essential service provider whose access is necessary to restore and repair an essential service; or

(2) impede the restoration or repair of the [essential] services . . . .

Note that the change only affects Federal officials, meaning that state laws providing broadcasters with First Informer status are still needed for areas that are not Federal disaster areas.  However, creating a Federal First Informer status for broadcasters is likely to expedite the adoption of similar laws in states that do not yet have them, and will likely serve to help standardize those laws, as the Federal government implements nationwide standards for how broadcast personnel can quickly identify themselves to government officials in order to gain access to a disaster area.

So while you may not be reading much about it in the trades (after all, “one BILLION dollars in additional repack funds” will always draw the headline), after the repack is done and reimbursements made, granting First Informer status will be the more lasting impact of the Consolidated Appropriations Act for broadcasters and the public that depends on them for rapid and accurate information in a disaster.

Make sure to spread the word.

The Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet has scheduled a next month on the Hawai’i False Missile Alert. Witnesses include officials from the FCC, FEMA, PACCOM, Hawai’i Emergency Management and the Hawai’i Association of Broadcasters. The hearing, scheduled for April 5, at 10 AM HST, will be available on the Senate Commerce Committee’s website,  https://www.commerce.senate.gov/

More information is available on the Subcommittee’s website at:

https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings?ID=A01CA3A3-8F20-4E21-AD4C-BB6CADDFF832

Regardless, the EAS system isn’t designed to be second guessed, he says. “One of the biggest questions I get from broadcasters is, ‘If this happens again, how do we confirm it?’ And my response is you can’t, and you shouldn’t,” says [Courtney] Harrington.

Read the entire article here:

http://www.tvtechnology.com/news/0002/missile-launch-false-alarm-reveals-warning-system-flaws/282599#.WmJNUeF3xWY.gmail

It Starts at the Top…

The day after Memorial Day will be memorable for one Florida TV station but not for the right reasons. May 30 2017 is when WTLV TV and the FCC agreed to a Consent Decree ending an investigation into the station’s violations of EAS rules. The FCC cited WTLV TV for airing commercials last August which included EAS tones with an audio message assuring the audience that “this is not a test”. The ad went on to promote the local National Football League Team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

While you can debate whether the $55,000 penalty included in the agreement is countered by the publicity generated for the team and the station, that certainly wasn’t the only expense Multimedia Holdings, the owners of WTLV’s license, paid to settle the matter. The terms of the Consent Decree also call for the station to implement a “compliance and reporting plan” on the proper use of EAS tones. In addition to the paperwork, there are the fees and costs incurred by the station’s attorneys over the nine months of negotiations and the fact that the station will have to remind everyone at the FCC about the settlement and fine again in 2020 when they apply for their license renewal.

The normal first reaction here might be to blame an over-zealous Account Executive for the idea of using EAS tones in a commercial. But it’s not likely that only one person was responsible for this blatant violation of long-standing FCC rules. Not only did someone write a commercial which incorporated EAS tones and verbiage, someone had to produce the commercial, including the EAS tones. Presumably–because an NFL spot has got to be a Big Deal even for a station like WTLV–someone had to review the commercial before it went to traffic and air. That’s a lot of TV station “someone’s” who didn’t think there was anything wrong with using EAS tones and a “this is not a test” message to promote a football team.

It’s sad to think that two years after the Bobby Bones debacle the staff of a major market TV station in the heart of hurricane country didn’t know that there was a FCC rule against using EAS tones for anything other than an EAS activation. Ultimately, the WTLV management pulled the ad, but not before someone noticed the EAS tones and filed an FCC complaint.

Apparently the time has passed when everyone at a radio or TV station knew the basic rules of broadcasting, including those involving EAS. It didn’t help that we relegated EAS to rack rooms and engineers only. Today our engineers are more about IT than broadcast. However, ignorance of the law is not an excuse and because management is ultimately responsible for what happens at a station, as your EAS State Chair, I’m asking all station managers “Do you know what’s on your air?”

For more information and questions about EAS rules, contact me.

Adrienne Abbott, nevadaeas@charter.net

EAS Security Notes
April 10, 2017

Prepared by the SBE EAS Advisory Group

Intrusions into computerized equipment have been around since the internet became a reality years ago. It is no surprise to broadcast engineers that these invasions have made their way into radio and television stations.

Most recently, EAS devices have been a major target. To comply with FCC rules, these devices must have internet access to receive information from FEMA via IPAWS.

Security for EAS and other station devices should be a high priority for station engineers. As a result, the SBE EAS Advisory group has put together a basic security guidelines summary to aid stations in assuring that all equipment is protected from these outside intrusions.

Summary

Every week, broadcasters like you are having their station equipment and computers hacked or tampered with by outsiders or malware infections that affect station computers and networks. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, the odds are unfortunately high that it eventually will happen.

These types of intrusions are more than an inconvenience. It can cost you to repair the systems that were compromised. It can cost you revenue for lost airtime. It can cost you credibility in your audience and community. Moreover, it eventually will cost all of us if the government feels it necessary to step in with additional regulations and requirements on broadcasters.

At the same time, it’s challenging for many broadcasters to keep up with the wide range of potential cyberattacks. Many broadcasters don’t know they have become vulnerable to attackers until it’s too late.

Click HERE for complete article