FactFinder 12: EAS message interrupts weather coverage

KWCH-TV viewers across Kansas were glued to Storm Team 12 coverage of the severe weather that brought tornadoes to the Great Plains Sunday.

But just as the storms were bearing down on Wichita, some digital cable viewers saw the coverage interrupted by an EAS, the federally mandated Emergency Alert System.

KWCH 12 viewer Roger Epperly Jr. emailed us to say "My cable box switched over to the EAS (Emergency Alert System) and didn't shut off until the severe storm was out of the area.  Is this how the FCC tries to protect us during the threat of a natural disaster?"

FactFinder 12 Investigators asked Cox Communications, the state's largest cable TV provider, if there's a way to keep this from happening in the future.

Cox Communications says there is not.  The EAS interruption will happen for cable TV customers who use a digital box.  The only way to avoid receiving the EAS is by watching a broadcast network like KWCH 12 over the air, or through analog basic cable (no box).  That's because KWCH and other local stations have signed an EAS waiver, explaining they'll be responsible for providing emergency information to the public.

Cox says at this time, when the EAS message is sent through a digital box it interrupts all content, even pay-per-view movies and DVR programming.

If you are cable subscriber using a digital box - we (KWCH) encourage you to go back to the analog channel, such as Channel 12,  or channel 7, 6 or 10 in Western Kansas to get KWCH without an EAS interrupt from your cable provider.  This will require disconnecting from your digital cable box.






FactFinder 12: EAS message interrupts weather coverage