I think people are missing the point on this one. They shouldn’t be wondering with whether it will work or not. After all, a national test of this magnitude has never been tested, even since the inception of the Emergency Broadcast System some 60 years ago. They shouldn’t be wondering how much value it will provide. In my opinion, those are the wrong thoughts. The first thought that crossed my mind was, ‘why’?
Why are they testing this now? This seems silly to me in today’s day and age. And I’m not so sure the FCC and Department of Homeland Security intentions are being accurately portrayed.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there is any danger heading our way. That’s not what I’m getting at. I’m asking myself this question; why is the Federal Government for the first time ever going to shutdown all broadcasts to test a system that for all intents and purposes, is mostly obsolete?
When I think about this, the big broadcasters have made the EAS obsolete. It’s not needed. If something important is happening in your local community, the local news affiliates will interrupt regular programming. If it’s really a big deal, the news will be elevated to the National level and will be broadcast on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC as was the case on September 11th, 2001.
The EAS is not super sophisticated, either. Rather, it’s designed to be as basic as possible to simplify its message transmission and to reach as many people as possible, including the deaf and the blind. It’s not going to be a live video feed with useful information. It’s going to be a scrolling text message accompanied by audio.
What if the Federal Government enacted the Emergency Alert System back on September 11th, 2001? What if they basically took over the airwaves and shut the people out from all news and radio information sources? Instead of you seeing what the local news stations were seeing and reporting, you only got to see official government released information in text form, scrolling across the screen? Can you imagine how uninformed you would have been during that crisis?
Here’s the way I see it. This test is flexing the muscle of the Federal Government. To shutdown all commercial radio signals so they can broadcast their message is a huge power grab. The Federal Government will be hijacking all AM and FM radio signals, land mobile radio systems, VHF and UHF signals, NOAA radio, all cable television stations, all commercial satellite signals including every channel on DirecTV, Dish Network, and Sirius Satellite Radio. In affect, the Federal Government will for the first time ever seize control of every broadcast signal in the United States.
Do you remember how many radio and television stations were broadcasting what was happening on September 11th, 2001? They all were! President Bush even commented on how he and his staff watched the continuous, uninterrupted CNN coverage to get the latest video feeds of what was going on in downtown New York and in Washington DC. We didn’t need a Federal Emergency Alert System to inform us of what was happening. It was beamed into each our houses, workplaces, cars, and schools in real-time by every major news network in America.
So again, I can’t help but think about why they are doing this. Why does the Federal Government find this system necessary? How can they possibly think this will help us in a national crisis? What added value could it possibly have that the major news broadcasters don’t already provide?
In my opinion, the EAS is a red herring. The real purpose behind this system is for the Federal Government to shutdown all sources of information should they feel the need too. How much information are you really going to get in 48-point Courier scrolling text? Oh, and I forgot to mention, the FCC says that the EAS can remain active for an unlimited amount of time. Not just 30 seconds.
Remember this story … http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-20029302-501465.html … probably not. It was buried. This was a Bill that would have allowed the Federal Government to shutdown the Internet in America during a “cyber-emergency”. I have a feeling the EAS is basically the same thing.