Only the President has the authority to activate EAS at the national level, and he has delegated that authority to the Director of FEMA. The test will be conducted jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through FEMA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS).
In essence, the authority to seize control of all television and civilian communication has been asserted by the executive branch and handed to a government agency.
The EAS has been around since 1994. Its precursor, the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), started back in 1963. Television and radio broadcasters, satellite radio and satellite television providers, cable television and wireline video providers are all involved in the system.
So this begs the question: is the first ever national EAS test really a big deal?
Probably not. At least, not yet.
But there are some troubling factors all coming together right now that could conceivably trigger a real usage of the EAS system in the not too distant future. A European financial collapse could bring down U.S. markets. What is now the "Occupy" movement could lead to widespread civil unrest. And there are ominous signs that radical groups such as Anonymous will attempt something major on November 5th- Guy Fawke's day.
Now we know in the event of a major crisis, the American people will be told with one voice, at the same time, about an emergency.
All thats left to determine is who will have control of the EAS when that day comes, and what their message will be.