Bloomberg News

Emergency Alert Test to Interrupt TV, Radio in U.S. Today

November 09, 2011

Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Radio and television programming will be interrupted for 30 seconds today as the U.S. conducts the first national test of a disaster-warning system.

The test of the Emergency Alert System will take place at 2 p.m. New York time on broadcast and satellite television and radio and cable TV, according to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. The test will look and sound similar to those previously conducted locally.

For 50 years, the U.S. has had an alert system under various names that has been used regionally to provide information about severe weather and other emergencies.

The national test is “the first step” in identifying the system’s failings so they can be fixed, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski wrote in a letter last week to governors and private-sector groups.

A national alert could be used to warn of a nuclear attack or other national disasters, said Rachel Racusen, a FEMA spokeswoman.

In preparing for the test, U.S. officials already found the system couldn’t run closed captioning for the hearing impaired, translations and, in the case of some cable TV channels, visual warnings to accompany the announcements, Fugate and Genachowski wrote.

--Editors: Justin Blum, Robin Meszoly

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Bliss in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva in Washington at

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