By JAY ADRICK, HARRIS BROADCAST
More and more broadcasters recognize that M-EAS is a really cool application of the ATSC’s Mobile DTV (MDTV) broadcast standard. More than 150 US broadcasters are now on the air with MDTV, and about 20 more are scheduled to light-up over the next 4-5 months. What’s most encouraging is that the newer stations are all asking for M-EAS capability and/or an easy M-EAS upgrade path when they’re ordering MDTV equipment.
Their interest underscores the important role of broadcasters to reach their audiences in times of emergencies no matter where users are or what devices they’re using.
The good news is that adding M-EAS to MDTV broadcasts is really pretty easy and inexpensive. All that needs to be added is software to the MDTV “Signaling & Announcement Server.” You only need two software modules.
First is the M-EAS transmission module that’s based on and fully-defined by the ATSC A/153-Part 10 Standard. This enables over-the-air M-EAS implementation using materials prepared ahead of time. Several Public and Commercial stations have already done this sort of demonstration using examples of tornadoes, hurricanes, missing persons and the presence of a suspicious package.
Second, to transmit a real emergency alert and information you’ll need an M-EAS “Content Manger” to enable interface with the station’s EAS receiver and the addition of station-generated rich-media materials such as weather radar, videos and HTML files. Two companies, Triveni Digital and Expway, are currently developing this software, which should be available within the next several months. The functionality of the M-EAS Content Manager has mostly been defined already by a group of engineers working together in what’s called the ATSC M-EAS Implementation Team (ITeam).
Among stations already preparing to incorporate this M-EAS-enabling software are Capitol Broadcasting’s WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Grey Broadcasting’s WKYT in Lexington, Kentucky.