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ONE MAN can shut off all broadcasting in the U.S.?

… Well, we’ll see about that on November 9. From Jim B. in a comment section, the feddies will try to take over all radio and television broadcasting at 2:00 p.m. EST on that date as a “test” of the system.

As one of the commentors on that article put it, this isn’t actually a test — which would be done at oh-dark-thirty. This is a demonstration. Of power. And fear.

Odd, too. The old Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), which has been around since the cold war, relied on the discretion of the broadcasters (which, granted, could be fallible). The upcoming shutdown is the first nationwide use of EBS’s successor, the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which is centralized. One man, the Big Boy himself, has the power to activate it, and he has delegated that power to the always-competent and of course democratically elected [/sarcasm] head of FEMA.

EAS has been around nearly 15 years — before many people were even aware of some newfangled thingie called the Internet. And they’re just getting around to “testing” it now?

According to the FCC website:

The EAS is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as AMBER alerts and weather information targeted to specific areas.

… So the capital-P President needs to address every TV zombie and Limbaugh listener during a national emergency? Might we ask, “Whuffor?” This ain’t the day when Roosevelt comforted our grannies and grampies with his famous Fireside Chats. We are just a leeeetle bit smarter and more skeptical of power now. And the dangers we face today are no worse than we faced when the USSR and USSA held each other as nuclear hostages under the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction.

And if you want to see “fallible” on a grand, nationwide scale, just put something in the hands of FEMA. Yeah, that’ll work out real well.

So really, ya gotta wonder what they’re thinking.

And oh yeah … they forgot the Internet. Now shutting down that would be an interesting project …


  1. Matt, another
    Matt, another October 25, 2011 8:07 am

    Interesting, I do agree it is a show of power. I don’t think they truly understand the dynamic of information flow within the U.S. Without actually turning off the power, destroying antennae and/or transmitters you can’t ultimately stop local radio stations. Then of course, there is the shortwave transmitters, Citizen Band, etc. It is also possible to bounce signals off of sattelites for long range information sharing etc. Many of the new smart phones can also be configured to bounce signals for at least text transmission from one to another. Other than encouraging freedom minded individuals to work out alternate means this will accomplish little.

  2. Water Lily
    Water Lily October 25, 2011 9:18 am

    Don’t really know what the reason behind it is, but I can speculate. I don’t like it at all.

    Thanks for the reminder. I need to buy a CB radio. Two, actually. 🙂

  3. Scott
    Scott October 25, 2011 9:38 am

    There isn’t a big, red button to shut everything off-there are still plenty of independent transmitters-most TV stations could just start broadcasting local programming,as could radio stations. Most are Internet linked, but just for content, not control of the transmitter(Or at least, even if the transmitter is controlled over the internet, that could be bypassed). There are thousands of ISPs, small cellular companies, and a wide variety of radio transmitters. Though life could be made difficult for someone operating a transmitter during some official “emergency”, I suppose…

  4. EN
    EN October 25, 2011 10:02 am

    It’s a matter of centralization, the answer to all statist problems. The disease of statism is psychological in nature and based on the commonly held believe that, “If only we can grab the levers of control we will end uncertainty”. Statists hate the idea that there’s something outside of their control. They worry that anything they don’t have control of will be used against them and cause system wide failure at a time when they need control. Of course just the opposite is true, the higher degree of centralization the more fragile the system becomes. Watch and see if they don’t make a total mess of this.

  5. Jackie Juntti
    Jackie Juntti October 25, 2011 10:02 am

    We can always go back to Smoke Signals and drums. Perhaps a little SCALPING might catch their attention too…

  6. DSC
    DSC October 25, 2011 11:05 am

    Hmmm…makes me wonder about the messege on the reader board of the local fire department…
    “Secure your home. Help your neighbors. Stay alert.”

  7. denny
    denny October 25, 2011 7:08 pm

    this is the day the aliens will open the door to the 6th demintion and all the big foots in that relm will run in to our world and tear down homes and dismember people all over the usa they will prove that the progressives are not in charge and they will make the sheep tremble in fear.. the end is near

  8. Claire
    Claire October 25, 2011 7:47 pm

    denny — Um, yeah. That seems as likely as anything else in politics these days …

  9. Jim B.
    Jim B. October 26, 2011 1:26 am

    This is encouraging. It shows how a ragtag force can cobble together a fighting force.

    It might even provide some lessons to learn about improvisations.

    Even this is encouraging in matters of old arms

    I would suggest perusing the links about this subject in the articles for more.

  10. LibertyNews
    LibertyNews October 26, 2011 7:12 am

    Meh. Does anyone actually rely on broadcast media anymore? And remember this *is* the government we’re talking about. Most of our emergency alert tests around here usually end up with dead air time because some minion was asleep at the switch.

    A big hole in all of the ‘the big .gov will quickly pivot into a dictatorship’ conspiracy theories is that they all involve the government. Which is never quick and never effective.

    If you are interested in real emergency communications you can get an Amateur Radio license. Yeah, yet another government license, but it isn’t terribly hard or invasive and then you can buy radios that work a heck of alot better than CBs. An added bonus is that a number of states with ‘no cellphone while driving’ laws have exemptions for ham radio operators.

  11. Ellendra
    Ellendra October 26, 2011 11:09 am

    I’ve looked but couldn’t find the answer, does anyone know if the inclusion of cable TV in this test will also effect cable internet? And, will it effect internet access for people who buy their internet and TV access from the same company in one of those packaged deals?

    (Trying to guage how much chaos this will cause at work.)

  12. Standard Mischief (dot) com
    Standard Mischief (dot) com October 26, 2011 4:21 pm

    Not too spooked. Maybe this is another dead canary, but it’s a pretty small one. They’re dying like flies nowadays anyway.

    Anywhoo, at least they dropped any pretext that it was the “voluntary cooperation” of broadcasters in my area who agreed to bring me important information in the event of an actual emergency.

    They have to do this test to justify their very existence in these tight budget times. Remember, last time we were attacked by the enemy on US soil in coordinated multi-city target, they .. uh .. well .. totally forgot to use that emergency broadcast system thingy. Whoopsie.

    Speaking of “voluntary cooperation”, here is a great example of cold war era “push back” from broadcasters toward the FCC. Uncle Charlie had to have bureaucrats pass actual regulations to keep the stations from playing such example of “joke” EBS tests. I’m just glad someone saved the tapes.

    (I probably can’t embed a link, so I’ll just paste in the url as text: )

  13. Roberta X
    Roberta X October 26, 2011 6:08 pm

    I do TV engineering for a living. I’ve sat through all the FEMA teleconferences for this pig.

    Compliance with EAS is voluntary — though 99%+ of station do volunteer, there is an “opt-out” provision.

    The equipment can be automatic and most stations will set in in automatic for the test because of the way a national EAS works; but a good many, especially in the TV biz, are not routinely LEFT in automatic, because the monthly State-level tests would be forwarded without regard for what was on the air at the time.

    FEMA had to drag FCC kicking and screaming into doing a live-code national test. They appear to be doing it because as a part of Fed DHS-driven reshuffle, they were handed much more control of and responsibility for a system that had never been tested and they’d as soon not look like ijits any more than they already do. (Please note I said “live-code:” the spoken message will say THIS IS A TEST but the scrolling text on your TV screen s gonna say THIS IS A NATIONAL EMERGENCY.)

    If you want to worry about the EAS system — a largely benign if klugey system that mostly warns of bad weather and lost children — worry about the latest category of message, “Governor’s Must-Carry,” which gives your State .gov the right to break in with anything the Governor thinks is vital enough to warrant so doing. That is scarily reminiscent of the Mexican broadcast requirement to carry all Presidential speeches and related material. This will be coming in with CAP, the Internet-based Common Alerting Protocol that will supplement the existing station-to-station relayed EAS system. (State-level EAS is often done with a combination of AM and FM stations, TV stations are endpoints; Federal EAS goes to few dozen big AM stations (PEP-1s, Primary Entry Points), from there to local/regional AMers, and into the State-level system. Fed system works the way it does to be more EMP-survivable; too long to explain why.

    Between FCC and FEMA, nearly every bit of this can be found on the Web, though some bits require you to dig into the CFR Online (most of that info is in 47CFR, generally the Part 70 – 79 section). It’s not secret, though they are very cagey about the satellite link to the PEP-1s, concerned that it could be spoofed. The rest of it is out there for the looking-at.

  14. Jim - KC5DOV
    Jim - KC5DOV October 28, 2011 5:35 pm

    Regardless of the reasoning behind the new EBS test – it’s good to be able to warn the entire USA populace of a natural or man-made disaster, terrorist attack, or disease pandemic/epidemic, but proper thinking requires all citizenns be prepared by keeping at least a minimum of 4 weeks supply of food and water for each person at your home.

    Other posters were comment on comtemplating getting a CB which is a fantastic idea, but a HAM Radio license (at least a Technician Class License) and purchasing a 2-meter/70 cm HAM Radio would be even better because there is a large network of HAM Radio operators already in place! If really concerned, the effort to obtrain a General Class or Amateiur extra Class Ham Radio License would allow comminications on all the HAM bands, which would supply a large amount of information in times of energency! (During and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, they were indespensible – keeping information flowing in and out of the storm afflicted areas due to no telephones operating! I know this for certain because I was there working and could not call out on cell-phone or land-line telephones!)

    At minimum, we should all pray for God to bless the USA and please hurry with the blessing!

    Jim – KC5DOV

  15. John Skiba
    John Skiba October 28, 2011 7:58 pm

    There’s always smoke signals we could use in a pinch. There was once an old Navajo standing atop a cliffside sending out a smoke signal. Suddenly, on the far horizon, – the first A-bomb test!
    The Indian’s reaction? “WOW – wish I’d said that!”

  16. Erica Towns
    Erica Towns December 12, 2011 1:38 pm

    It’s because he’s afraid people will be mean to Obama if when the Republicans continue to obstruct everything that Obama wants. What a clown

  17. Henry
    Henry April 19, 2012 1:10 am

    Our star (the sun) can put us out of business any time.. thats my first concern but also hope.. I have lost faith in the way our world works theese days so i REALLY hope for an solar induced emp that could send ud back to the 18th hundred so we could start over and rebuild with the lessons learned through the last 120 years on what NOT to do. I also posted a load of this at EMP Protection site and hope to see mankind rise at new in a way that respect each person and the planet we live on.

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