The Overalerting Question, for Emergency Broadcasts

The Overalerting Question, for Emergency Broadcasts

Postby jon » Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:38 pm

As discussed in another thread, the CRTC is making Emergency Alert Messages mandatory for all stations (and some other broadcasters).

One particular issue was raised during the Interventions stage of this Decision, that may come back to haunt the CRTC: Overalerting. Caused by broadcasting local emergency alerts on all stations of a simulcast "network".

The CRTC used the Alberta experience, with its 22 year old emergency network, as enough evidence to justify changing their proposed regulations so that all stations that are simulcast are allowed to broadcast the same alerts, rather than a local alert in a single community only being broadcast on that community's individual transmitter.

Is this going to work? There are some much larger simulcast networks across the country than those currently participating in the Alberta network.

Here are the relevant parts of the CRTC Decision:
Distribution of emergency alert messages on individual over-the-air transmitters

In the Notice, the Commission proposed provisions whereby radio and television broadcasters would be required to implement the public alerting system on each individual transmitter. This way, a given alert would be broadcast only on the transmitter or rebroadcasting transmitter that serves the area targeted by that particular alert.

Comments

Broadcasters opposed the proposed requirement. They argued that this requirement would be very difficult to implement and would raise costs, particularly for rebroadcasting transmitters that receive their signal from the main transmitter via OTA transmission (that is, fed off-air) or that do not have a satellite or Internet connection. They submitted that each rebroadcasting transmitter, or each transmitter that is fed off-air, should not be required to have a unique alert feed. The Province of Alberta stated that there is no need for rebroadcasting transmitters to have unique feeds and that over-alerting has not occurred in its system, where alerts are issued at the licence level.

Commission’s analysis

The purpose of the provisions proposed in the Notice was to avoid over-alerting, so that Canadians are not exposed to emergency alert messages that do not apply to them and ultimately do not become desensitized to such messages. However, based on the Province of Alberta’s experience, there is no evidence that over-alerting is in fact an issue.

The Commission notes that the CBC’s radio stations are required, by condition of licence, to implement alerting at the originating station level, rather than on each individual transmitter. Accordingly, any given alert will be broadcast on all transmitters, including all rebroadcasting transmitters, of the stations that serve the area targeted by the alert. Requiring other broadcasters, both radio and television, to implement alerting only on originating stations would be consistent with the requirement set out for the public broadcaster and would decrease costs.

Accordingly, the Commission has amended the Radio Regulations, the TV Regulations and the exemption orders for tourist and Native radio stations to reflect its decision that a public alerting system is to be installed at the originating station, with alerts fed to all associated transmitters. To this end, the Commission has adopted the wording proposed by broadcasters in their interventions. Nevertheless, to improve the effectiveness of the alerting system, it encourages broadcasters to strive to implement alerting at the transmitter level.
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Re: The Overalerting Question, for Emergency Broadcasts

Postby jon » Sun Aug 31, 2014 2:30 pm

Here is the Condition of License previously added to the CBC's radio licenses:
The licensee shall, by no later than 31 December 2014, implement a public alerting system on all of the licensee’s radio stations, which will immediately broadcast any emergency alert received from the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination System on all of the licensee’s originating stations and associated repeaters that serve the area targeted by the alert, provided that the alert is designated for immediate broadcast by the issuing authority, is received in the language of the originating station, and contains audio content.

Hopefully, come the New Year, this won't devolve into a situation where each lost dog alert in Spuzzum gets aired on CBU on a recurring basis. Multiply that times all the LPRT communities that carry CBU -- I would guess the number is around 50 -- and it could be frequent enough to become annoying for Vancouver area listeners, which would impact CBU's coveted #1 ratings position.
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