Emergency Broadcast System

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The Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) was an emergency warning system in the United States, used from 1963 to 1997, when it was replaced by the Emergency Alert System.

Contents

Purpose

"The Emergency Broadcast System was established to provide the President of the United States with an expeditious method of communicating with the American public in the event of war, threat of war, or grave national crisis."[1] It replaced CONELRAD on August 5, 1963.[2] In later years, it was expanded for use during peacetime emergencies at the state and local levels.[1] Although the system was never used for a national emergency, it was activated more than 20,000 times between 1976 and 1996 to broadcast civil emergency messages and warnings of severe weather hazards. Some dramatic works depicting nuclear warfare (most notably the 1983 made-for-TV film The Day After) included fictionalized scenes of EBS activations. Occasionally the EBS would be shown in fictionalized use for events other than nuclear warfare, such as the 1978 film Dawn of the Dead.

National Level EBS

An order to activate the EBS at the national level would have originated with the President and been relayed via the White House Communications Agency duty officer to one of two origination points: either the Aerospace Defense Command or the Federal Preparedness Agency—as the system stood in 1978. Participating telecommunications common carriers, radio and television networks, the Associated Press and United Press International would receive and authenticate (by means of code words) an Emergency Action Notification via an EAN teletypewriter network designed specifically for this purpose. These recipients would relay the EAN to their subscribers and affiliates[1]

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