The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a sound concept; in case of a national emergency, the government can interrupt broadcasts to send warning alerts to the viewing public. The system was never questioned in the early days of television. The Cold War was reality; CD symbols decorated the streets like missing cat signs do today. The sound of low flying planes caused concern. The tests run of the Emergency Broadcast System, as it was then known, were somehow reassuring. The system came under scrutiny a few years back when it was utilized for more than just national emergencies. Hazards on the roadways, weather warnings and even Amber alerts were pumped out on the system. The regular emergency network tests, required weekly by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), became more of an annoyance than a reassurance. The system’s entire reason d’etre may now be suspect as TV stations in Montana and Michigan interrupted their normal programs with an emergency broadcast of an impending zombie apocalypse.
KRTV in Montana and WBUP in Michigan were airing “The Steve Wilkos Show” when the familiar alert buzz of the EAS sounded, followed by a graphic warning of an apocalyptic event resulting in the dead rising from their graves. The graphic warning was augmented by audio of a distorted voice repeating the message.
The FCC and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) immediately jumped into the foray attempting to q uell any panic. There was concern an event like Orson Welles’ reading of “War of the Worlds” in the early days of radio could occur. Frankly, the “Steve Wilkos Show”, like others of its ilk, caters to the LCD of television viewers, most of whom probably couldn’t read the alert.
The federal agencies quickly reassured the public the zombie alert was the result of lax security code updates on the part of the TV stations. Stations are required to update their EAS systems, and FEMA issued a statement claiming the zombie hack occurred at those who did not. FEMA further stated the zombie hack was isolated to a handful of stations only and their main system was not affected. They assured everyone their EAS system is totally dependable. The FCC refused to comment on the situation. Nevertheless, all TV stations were immediately ordered to update and upgrade their EAS equipment.
WBUP Station Manager Cynthia Thompson posted on the station’s website the prankster was apprehended. Many suspect this post was a deflective deception as no further information, nor identification was revealed.
So, who hacked the EAS system? Was it a jokester who is a fan of George Romero or AMC’s “The Walking Dead”? Was it a foreign nation making a dry run for a more serious EAS hack? China, afterall, readily admits to hacking America’s banking system. Why is President Barrack Hussein Obama overly concerned with controlling gun owners, when the nation’s own Emergency Alert System is suspect? Better question is does our Putz-in-Chief even care the nation’s security is compromised?
Thankfully, the prank occurred during a mindless TV show about teen cheaters taking lie detector tests and not during a prime time highly rated program or sporting event. The FCC and FEMA are doing their best to CYA, while somewhere, someone is laughing hysterically. And, we, the American public, sit and wonder if the EAS, under the watch of this regime, is now bogus.
Fiore Mastracci is host and producer of OUTTAKES. Information for this article was culled from trade magazines, specifically “TVTechnology”, March 6th edition.