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B’casters halt emergency signal tests

Stoppage urged by FEMA, FCC

WASHINGTON — Trying to spare a traumatized public, the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday asked broadcasters and cablers to halt any testing of emergency signals until early next month.

Request was relayed by the Federal Communications Commission.

“In connection with the recent terrorist attacks, and in order to avoid potential public confusion or fear, FEMA has requested that broadcast stations suspend their routine weekly and monthly tests of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) until Oct. 2, 2001,” the FCC said in confirming FEMA’s instruction.

“Additionally, during this period, cable systems need not comply with the rules regarding the handling of the routine weekly and monthly EAS tests,” the FCC said.

However, any broadcaster that has additional EAS responsibilities for which routine testing remains necessary may go ahead and sound the alarm, as appropriate.

It’s possible that FEMA may ask for an additional period of suspension. If so, the FCC will notify broadcasters and cablers.

The stoppage of emergency testing systems was considered and endorsed by the FCC’s emergency management advisory committee.

In general, the FCC has commended the TV biz for its job in keeping the public informed in the wake of devastating terrorist attacks on Gotham and Washington, in which hijacked planes smashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Both the National Assn. of Broadcasters and the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. have distributed public service announcements regarding the crisis and what the public can do to help.

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