EAS 375

The daisy chain still mostly works to disseminate national Emergency Alert System messages. That’s according to a preliminary report from the Federal Communications Commission which says more than eight in ten radio stations received and retransmitted the test alert, which was sent Aug. 7 as part of a nationwide activation.

The FCC says 13,940 broadcast radio stations participated in the national EAS test. Of those, 84.5% or 11,782 stations received the test message sent using only the daisy-chain system that relays an alert from one broadcast station to another using a network of primary stations. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency now also has the internet and satellite-delivered mechanism to beam EAS alerts to stations, this year’s focus on the daisy chain was designed to show whether it could serve as a reliable and effective failsafe during a national emergency. The preliminary report doesn’t address that question, however it says the data shows that across all media—including radio, television and cable and satellite TV—the total number of stations that received the test alert was 84.3% of those that participated.

The data, which was pulled from the filings stations were required to submit in the weeks following the test, also shows that 82.5% of radio stations were able to retransmit the EAS activation. That’s one percent greater than the overall retransmission rate across all media.

The most useful of the filings made by stations to the FCC were the so-called Form Three reports in which broadcasters said how they received the alert and identified any complications they experienced during the test. The data shows 69% of test recipients said they had no complications receiving the test and 74% reported no complications in retransmitting the test alert. Among those that did have issues, the most common complaint was with the quality of the alert audio. That problem—which Inside Radio reported on just after the test—was cited by 12% of filers.

The FCC and FEMA continue to analyze the information they’ve collected from 19,607 participants who took part in the national test this year. The agencies are expected to issue their final report on the 2019 test early next year. No announcement has been made about a 2020 national test, but it’s widely expected the new annual tradition will continue, since regulators have said it has helped identify and repair holes in the EAS network.