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Old 12-21-2010, 12:45 AM   #1
Gigs
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Blocking EAS

Does anyone know of a device that you can buy that will just completely block EAS from getting to the Tivo in the first place?

Failing that, does anyone know where the technical specifications of the EAS signal are available so that I could look into building such a box myself?

It looks like the newer Common Alert Protocol is just XML. Does anyone know if this is "in band" in an encrypted digital channel, or "out of band"? Are providers using CAP EAS yet? Is the XML format only between EAS relay boxes at providers or is that to end devices as well?
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Old 12-21-2010, 12:48 AM   #2
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I don't know anything about this, but if you come up with a solution I'd love to hear it. My cable provider seems to do EAS test like 2-3 times a week and it screws up a lot of recordings. I'd love to have a way to turn it off.

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Old 12-21-2010, 02:09 AM   #3
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CableLabs certification requires this feature, and it requires that it cannot be defeated. There's no difference (as far as the TiVo can tell) between a real emergency broadcast and a test.
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Old 12-21-2010, 02:25 AM   #4
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Seems to me if the station/channel, whether OTA or cable/satellite, is doing an EAS spot, THAT is what's going out over the channel, and that's all there is for your TV/recorder to receive. How could you block that? It's like trying to block a commercial from getting to your TV. It's part of the broadcast, and you have to live with it.
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Old 12-21-2010, 02:35 AM   #5
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Seems to me if the station/channel, whether OTA or cable/satellite, is doing an EAS spot, THAT is what's going out over the channel, and that's all there is for your TV/recorder to receive. How could you block that? It's like trying to block a commercial from getting to your TV. It's part of the broadcast, and you have to live with it.
He's referring to the digital eas signal which is is an out of band communication that says "STOP RECORDING! STOP ALL PLAYBACK! CHANGE ALL TUNERS TO CHANNEL 17. DISPLAY THE FOLLOWING TEXT ON THE SCREEN. DISABLE ALL PLAYBACK CONTROLS FOR THE NEXT 60 SECONDS!". Which is really, really annoying. As you might expect, it fouls up all recordings, even those not on a channel broadcasting the EAS. And if you're watching something out of my shows, it rips you out of what your watching, and forces you to watch the live EAS - about the only thing you can do is turn off the TV.

Really pretty annoying when you're watching a recorded movie, and you get dumped and locked to a blaring test pattern for 5 minutes.

-Ken
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Old 12-21-2010, 05:18 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Dan203 View Post
I don't know anything about this, but if you come up with a solution I'd love to hear it. My cable provider seems to do EAS test like 2-3 times a week and it screws up a lot of recordings. I'd love to have a way to turn it off.
But are you watching something at the time? In my area these only happen after midnight. From what I have read, recordings won't be interrupted if your TiVo is in standby when EAS occurs.

There's a trick for putting a TiVo HD into standby:

TiVo button
slow button
(possibly need to page down aka channel down)
select button

This is fewer button pushes than you might otherwise expect, but IMO a very poor substitute for a physical button on the remote.
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Old 12-21-2010, 05:21 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by kdmorse View Post
He's referring to the digital eas signal which is is an out of band communication that says "STOP RECORDING! STOP ALL PLAYBACK! CHANGE ALL TUNERS TO CHANNEL 17. DISPLAY THE FOLLOWING TEXT ON THE SCREEN. DISABLE ALL PLAYBACK CONTROLS FOR THE NEXT 60 SECONDS!".-Ken
WTH? Is this something new? I'm strictly OTA these days but when I had TWC, about a year ago, I never saw anything like this.
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Old 12-21-2010, 05:34 AM   #8
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But are you watching something at the time? In my area these only happen after midnight. From what I have read, recordings won't be interrupted if your TiVo is in standby when EAS occurs.

There's a trick for putting a TiVo HD into standby:

TiVo button
slow button
(possibly need to page down aka channel down)
select button

This is fewer button pushes than you might otherwise expect, but IMO a very poor substitute for a physical button on the remote.
If you have a universal remote there's a discrete code for Standby.
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Old 12-21-2010, 06:55 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by kdmorse View Post
He's referring to the digital eas signal which is is an out of band communication that says "STOP RECORDING! STOP ALL PLAYBACK! CHANGE ALL TUNERS TO CHANNEL 17. DISPLAY THE FOLLOWING TEXT ON THE SCREEN. DISABLE ALL PLAYBACK CONTROLS FOR THE NEXT 60 SECONDS!".

Never seen anything remotely like this, either OTA or on cable. Is this just something stations in tornado alley do?
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:11 AM   #10
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Brighthouse Central Fla I see it every Wednesday morning around 3am and am totally locked out of Tivo for several minutes. It REALLY sucks when you're watching a show and all of a sudden you're dumped out of it and locked out if you happen to be one of the people using Tivo during these tests.
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Old 12-21-2010, 11:24 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Gigs View Post
Does anyone know of a device that you can buy that will just completely block EAS from getting to the Tivo in the first place?
This is exactly the reason I get all my Prime-time programming from antenna.
I have never seen any sudden EAS interruption during a show with antenna.
I would see them all the time, especially at night, on cable.
I hated that.
But never with antenna.
Now I only use cable for shows which are not broadcast, like Conan on TBS.
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Old 12-21-2010, 11:41 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Gigs View Post
Does anyone know of a device that you can buy that will just completely block EAS from getting to the Tivo in the first place?
Here's some info I found regarding EAS from Wikipedia:
Quote:
From Wikipedia:

All EAS equipment must be tested weekly. The required weekly test (RWT) consists of the header and the end-of-message SAME bursts. The RWT does not need an audio or graphic message announcing the test, although many stations will provide them as a courtesy to the listener or viewer. Television stations are not required to transmit a video message for weekly tests. RWTs are scheduled by the station, on random days and times, and are generally not relayed.[6]

On cable systems before the start of the EAS test, all of a system's channels, both on cable ready televisions directly connected to the coaxial cable, and those on cable boxes, are redirected to one digital channel which is received on all tiers of service, but doesn't usually give out news or weather information (such as the TV Guide Network, QVC, HSN, or a public access station), where the test occurs from the local headend office or from the system's master office elsewhere in the region. Newer technology allows cable DVR and video on demand systems to interrupt playback of a program for an EAS test. After the test ends, the one channel usually remains on screen for 5-10 additional seconds before the original station/network is returned to.[citation needed]

Required Monthly Tests (RMTs) are generally originated by the primary relay station or a State's EAS agency, relayed by broadcast and cable stations. Some RMT's are issued by the National Weather Service, sometimes for Statewide Severe Weather Drills. RMTs are conducted with the following procedure:

1. Normal programming is suspended (commonly during commercial breaks), and an announcement may be made such as: "The following is a monthly test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test."
2. The SAME Header burst is sent, perhaps followed by an attention signal.
3. Another voice message is sent, which runs something like this:

"This is a coordinated monthly test of the broadcast stations in your area. Equipment that can quickly warn you during emergencies is being tested. If this had been an actual emergency such as a tornado warning or severe thunderstorm warning, official messages would have followed the alert tone. This concludes this test of the Emergency Alert System." (many state/local plans have different scripts)

4. The SAME EOM burst is sent.

RMTs must be performed between 8:30 a.m. and local sunset during odd numbered months, and local sunset to 8:30AM for even months. Received tests must be retransmitted within 60 minutes from receipt.[6] Additionally, an RMT cannot be scheduled or conducted during an event of great importance such as a pre-announced Presidential speech, coverage of a national election or a major sporting event such as the Olympic Games, the Super Bowl or the World Series as mentioned in individual EAS state plans.

An RWT is not required during a calendar week in which an RMT is scheduled. No testing has to be done at all during a calendar week in which the EAS has been legitimately activated. Coordinated national tests are planned to be conducted at least once every year, beginning in 2011, and are very similar to RMTs[9][10]

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Old 12-21-2010, 11:51 AM   #13
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Never seen anything remotely like this, either OTA or on cable. Is this just something stations in tornado alley do?
I've seen it happen repeatedly on the west coast while watching playback late at night. Rips the Tivo out of playback, forces it to display the EAS message, and then dumps me on some public access station.

Like everything these days, the government thinks we're to freakin' stupid to tune to the channel ourselves in the event of a real emergency. A simple text overlay across the bottom would have been sufficient and/or an EAS popup screen that we could immediately cancel. There's no need to change channels on the tuners or abort a recording.
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Old 12-21-2010, 12:05 PM   #14
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I've seen it happen repeatedly on the west coast while watching playback late at night. Rips the Tivo out of playback, forces it to display the EAS message, and then dumps me on some public access station.

Like everything these days, the government thinks we're to freakin' stupid to tune to the channel ourselves in the event of a real emergency. A simple text overlay across the bottom would have been sufficient and/or an EAS popup screen that we could immediately cancel. There's no need to change channels on the tuners or abort a recording.
If you're enjoying a playback of a previous recording, how would you know about such an emergency otherwise?
You'd have to have some other source going on, like a radio station somewhere else in the home turned on.
This is the reason for the unavoidable interrupt.
But yes - still annoying as hell.
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Old 12-21-2010, 02:48 PM   #15
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If you're enjoying a playback of a previous recording, how would you know about such an emergency otherwise?
Very true, but you need a reasonable definition of "emergency". Fortunately my cable provider has calmed down to the point where these are fairly rare. But at the height of it's annoyance, it seemed to believe it was a real life shattering emergency:

1) Every weekend at 3am. I'm usually watching something at 3am...
2) Every thunderstorm, real or imagined. Usually afternoon or evening guaranteeing the interruption of a prime time show.
3) Every amber alert.
4) One month, every time it rained, even a little bit. (We had a lot of rain that month, so every time it rained it triggered a flash flood warning, day after day).

We have in the past argued the relative merits of all of the above in theory. In practice, not one digital EAS I have ever seen has ever had a practical effect on my life, changed what I was going to do, made me or anyone I know safer in any way, or done anything but irritate me.

(The amber alter one gets debated alot. I maintain that I'm not going to spot that yellow van with Free Candy written on the side driving down I123 while I'm in my bathrobe, in bed, watching tv).

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Old 12-21-2010, 04:09 PM   #16
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Funny, no EAS alerts in this area have ever interrupted a recoding of mine.

Agree with Amber Alerts - put them on all the overhead signage on the freeways - on my TV at home make very little sense.
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Old 12-21-2010, 04:43 PM   #17
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If you're enjoying a playback of a previous recording, how would you know about such an emergency otherwise?
A simple one-line text overlay and beeping noise across the bottom of the screen would suffice. It's what the EAS system has done for the past several decades and has worked fine. The DVR is easily capable of doing a text overlay on top of a playing recording.

My objection is that the current implementation assumes we're too stupid to pay attention to the EAS message and we require someone to tune the station for us.

Furthermore, what happens in an emergency if someone is watching a DVD or a Blu-Ray? or watching Hulu on their Roku? or surfing the Internet? Perhaps we need the government to install some means to seize control of all these other devices as well.

In fact, they should really install big brother in my alarm clock, in case I'm sleeping through an emergency.
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Old 12-21-2010, 05:03 PM   #18
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Perhaps we need the government to install some means to seize control of all these other devices as well.

In fact, they should really install big brother in my alarm clock, in case I'm sleeping through an emergency.
http://www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws

There you go. That will deliver emergency notices to your cell phone too!
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Old 12-21-2010, 05:21 PM   #19
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Funny, no EAS alerts in this area have ever interrupted a recoding of mine.
Same here. Of course, me being OTA only helps. If an EAS alert is broadcast, it's going to be on ALL the stations, so there is no reason for the Tivo to change the channel.

And I have never witnessed an EAS alert/test interrupting playback of a previously recorded program.
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Old 12-21-2010, 07:06 PM   #20
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He's referring to the digital eas signal which is is an out of band communication that says "STOP RECORDING! STOP ALL PLAYBACK! CHANGE ALL TUNERS TO CHANNEL 17. DISPLAY THE FOLLOWING TEXT ON THE SCREEN. DISABLE ALL PLAYBACK CONTROLS FOR THE NEXT 60 SECONDS!". Which is really, really annoying. As you might expect, it fouls up all recordings, even those not on a channel broadcasting the EAS. And if you're watching something out of my shows, it rips you out of what your watching, and forces you to watch the live EAS - about the only thing you can do is turn off the TV.

Really pretty annoying when you're watching a recorded movie, and you get dumped and locked to a blaring test pattern for 5 minutes.
This is exactly what I'm talking about. I'm a late night guy so I'm regularly watching TV after midnight. What's worse is when I leave the TV paused on something and go to the bathroom. Then all the sudden one of these happens and not only does it play the annoying warning signal at whatever volume the TV is currently set but after it's done it remains on live TV. All of which have the potential of disturbing my wife who is sleeping in a room right above the living room.

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Old 12-21-2010, 07:25 PM   #21
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Thanks for the information guys.

I've been thinking about it more, and while the actual EAS message is on a specific channel, there's got to be some kind of out of band signal to tell the receiver to switch to that channel.

I'll keep researching and see if I come up with something. As far as "how would you know if there were a real emergency"... well, most of the time my TV is turned off and I don't listen to radio, so I'm taking that risk most of the time anyway!

That cell phone notification service looks interesting though. Good info.
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Old 12-21-2010, 07:45 PM   #22
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The only emergency I could care about is a weather one and for those am always on alert anyway. I don't understand why every living room in America would need to have this system...at least not with the mandatory system lockdowns. Even with the only one true emergency I've ever seen in Central Florida which was the sudden course change of Hurricane Charley we had plenty notice and you couldn't ignore it. If they drop the big one or whatever there is not much I can do and if they did my crazy HAM radio neighbor would probably take it upon himself to ride up an down the streets with a bullhorn announcing the end of time. Since we're going to be locked out of our Tivo when Armageddon strikes I guess would have to fire up the DVD or read a book.
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Old 12-21-2010, 07:49 PM   #23
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... at least not with the mandatory system lockdowns.
They should add to this and have all windows and doors of the home secured and locked to make sure you can't even leave, and make sure you can't start your car either, until the emergency notice is complete.

This is what we refer to as ... The American Way.
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Old 12-21-2010, 09:58 PM   #24
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I used to never get EAS alerts. Now I get weekly tests, every Tuesday at midnight. I haven't seen the monthly tests.

As for when I get real alerts, the last one I got was for a Megan's Law incident. At least that's what I think it was for since the sound was so low and garbled I couldn't make out what it was saying. I then got another EAS canceling the previous EAS. At that point I put the box in standby since I had an upcoming recording which I didn't want to get ruined. I still don't understand the reasoning behind putting up EAS for Megan's Law incidents since I'm extremely unlikely to see the the car with the reported license place while sitting in my living room. They're planning on adding alerts for seniors who wander out and get lost and I think pets as well.

One time I got an EAS which switched to a baseball game and simply left me there. I couldn't get out and had to pull the plug and then immediately put the box into standby on startup to prevent getting switched back to the game.
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Old 12-21-2010, 10:16 PM   #25
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At least that's what I think it was for since the sound was so low and garbled I couldn't make out what it was saying.
That's another good point. Of all the EAS's I've seen, very very few have actually been clearly intelligible. I'm not sure whose fault it is, the Tivo, the Cable Provider, or the Channel, but I usually end up with no volume, or a garbled signal, or am dumped into the middle of a sentence, or it cuts out early. Regardless, 9 times out of 10 - even if it were important, it'd be fairly useless.

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Old 01-19-2011, 02:05 PM   #26
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Irrespective of the merits of the EAS interruption, is there any way to disable it? Using a TiVo premiere XL with CableCard from Charter Communications. Reading through this thread -- it seems like the answer is no, but I just want to confirm.
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:59 PM   #27
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Irrespective of the merits of the EAS interruption, is there any way to disable it? Using a TiVo premiere XL with CableCard from Charter Communications. Reading through this thread -- it seems like the answer is no, but I just want to confirm.
drop the cable card is it.
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Old 01-19-2011, 09:28 PM   #28
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No, but as has been said before, your recordings won't be interrupted if the Tivo is in standby. So then it only has a chance to mess up shows you're recording while watching something else.

(I've only been hit by them knowingly 2-3 times at most.. though the times I've seen it, I end up going to a BLANK SCREEN.. I'm not sure if it's trying to go to a channel I don't get or what.. I'm only speculating that it's this, but since both Tivos did this and both 'locked up' for a few minutes, that's what it seems like.)
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:18 AM   #29
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Unfortunately for us, these are occuring during primetime so we are usually watching a recording then. Tonight, this happened at 8:55 PM PST. We were lucky that the one show we were recording was at commercial during the interruption, otherwise we would have missed the ending of the show.

Here are the problems as I see them with the TiVo and these alerts:

1. During the alert, the TiVo records the EAS message on any current recording of a station that is broadcasting normally. I don't see why this is necessary. The alert is already being displayed on the TV, and I don't need to see the EAS 2 weeks later when I watch the recording.
2. If I'm watching a recording, the TiVo displays an alert that simply says 'somebody has initiated a weekly test'. As best I can tell, the TiVo is not displaying whatever alert message is being broadcast by somebody. It's just a generic message that appears to be generated by the TiVo itself.
2a. If I'm right that the TiVO is generating the alert being displayed, the TiVO doesn't indicate which channel initiated the test. I'd be happy with just a channel number.
2b. If I"m wrong and the message being displayed is coming from a channel, there is no indication which channel is broadcasting it.
3. The cable company was unable to tell me the source of the alert. They claim they have no way of knowing which of their stations broadcasted it.
4. When the alert is over, TiVo falls back to live TV. It should instead return to the previous state (e.g., resume playback of the recorded show I was watching).

So all I know is that I keep getting regular interruptions of primetime recordings due to some station sending test messages at inconvenient times, and I have no way of knowing which station is responsible.

I hold TiVo responsible for #1. They should be able to continue recordings that are in progress. (if 2b is the case, then I suppose one tuner would be needed for that, but only if 2b is true)

If 2a applies, the TiVo should be able to fix that as well.

If 2b is the case, FEMA should require that the station provide some identification when transmitting the alert. And if these alerts are going to interrupt anything a user is doing, on any channel, FEMA should direct they be done outside of prime viewing hours. I'd complain to the station responsible -- if only I knew who that is.

For #3, perhaps Frontier (formerly FIOS) simply isn't ready for prime time. Maybe I should find an alternate source of programming.

#4 is also a TiVo issue.
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Old 03-04-2011, 04:41 PM   #30
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This is becoming more of a problem for me as well. It seems to be happening more and more during times when I'm actually recording something, which causes an interruption in the recording that I don't even realize is there until I watch it days/weeks later.

If anyone knows of a device or inline filter that can block these EAS messages I'd really love to know about it.

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