Fact Check

Nationwide EAS Test

The government will temporarily cut off all television, communications, and power on 9 November 2011?

Published Oct 24, 2011

Claim:   The government will temporarily interrupt all television, radio, communications, and power in the U.S. on 9 November 2011.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, October 2011]


I wanted to know if this is true cause people are talking about on Facebook....

Heard on Glenn Beck's radio show that on Nov. 9, 2011 the government is going to shut down all communications for 3 1/2 minutes beginning @ 2 PM

I just received and email stating that power in this nation is to be cut off on Nov.9th. Is this true?

Heard that government was shutting down all methods of communication (computers, t.v.'s, etc.) for 3 minutes on
November 9. Is this true and if so, what's the reason?


Origins:   At 2:00 PM EST on 9 November 2011, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). EAS participants include broadcasters, satellite and digital radio and television, cable television and wireline video providers, whose programming will be temporarily interrupted for about three minutes in order to "provide a critical public service to the nation as the resilient backbone of alert and warning when all other means of communication are unavailable." As described by the FCC:

The EAS is often used by state and local emergency managers to alert the public about emergencies and weather events. The system provides the ability to send messages regionally or nationally, though it has never been tested at these levels. A major disaster such as an earthquake or tsunami could require the use of the system to send life-saving information to the public.

According to FEMA, what people will see and hear during the Nationwide EAS Test is as follows:

During the test, listeners will hear a message indicating that "This is a test." Although the EAS Test may resemble the periodic, monthly EAS tests that most Americans are already familiar with, there will be some differences in what viewers will see and hear. The audio message will be the same for all EAS Participants;

however, due to limitations in the EAS, the video test message scroll may not be the same or indicate that "This is a test." This is due to the use of the live EAN code — the same code that would be used in an actual emergency. The text at the top of the television screen may indicate that an "Emergency Action Notification has been issued." This notification is used to disseminate a national alert and in this case, the test. In addition, the background image that appears on video screens during an alert may indicate that "This is a test," but in some instances there might not be an image at all.

The test will last for approximately three minutes; however this may vary across the country. While State and local EAS messages are limited to 2 minutes, there is no time limit for national EAS alerts. To evaluate whether the system properly interprets the national message code in the national EAS test, the message duration must be longer than two minutes.

Contrary to some of the rumors which have sprung out of news of the Nationwide EAS Test (as noted in the examples above), the test will not involve the cutting off of power or general communications throughout the U.S.; just a temporary interruption of television and radio programming.

Last updated:   24 October 2011

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.