Washington -- House Communications Subcommittee Chairman
Greg Walden (R-Ore.) wants to know just what went wrong with last week's Nov. 9
test of the national Emergency Alert System.
He has scheduled a Nov. 17 bipartisan members briefing with representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
and the Federal Communications Commission to review the test results and talk
about ways to improve the process.
An FCC source speaking on background has pointed out that
those results are still being collected. Except as aggregate results, they are
also confidential, the source said.
"By many accounts,
last week's test had major problems," Rep. Walden said. "In my home state of
Oregon, most -- if not all -- stations didn't even receive the signal. Soon
afterward, I contacted FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and FEMA to request a
briefing for the subcommittee's members.
While local and regional tests of the annoying tone and
"this is only a test" message are familiar periodic occurrences, a
national test of the alert, which is supposed to allow the president to address
the nation in times of national emergency, has never been conducted. That's
something Adm. James Barnett, chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland
Security Bureau, reportedly wanted to rectify.