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Category Archives: Emergency Communications

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August Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – While Incentive Auction Dominates the News, Other Dates to Watch

Posted in AM Radio, Cable Carriage, Digital Television, EEO Compliance/Diversity, Emergency Communications, FCC Fees, FM Radio, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
With tomorrow’s FCC meeting to detail dates and procedures for the TV incentive auction dominating the headlines, there are other August regulatory dates that should not be overlooked. While we never can get to all of the relevant dates in our monthly highlight article, here are a few items worth your consideration. For one, we… Continue Reading

FCC Extends Deadline for TV Stations to Convert Emergency Information in Textual Crawls to Audio on SAP Channels

Posted in Emergency Communications, Programming Regulations, Television
The FCC yesterday granted extensions requested by the National Association of Broadcasters and by the American Cable Association of the deadlines for implementation of obligations to convert emergency information conveyed in text (usually in on-screen crawls) on television broadcasts into audio to be broadcast on a TV station’s SAP channel (the second audio programming channel… Continue Reading

FCC Fines iHeart Media $1,000,000 for Broadcasting EAS Alert Tones When there was No Emergency – What the Big Fine Says to Broadcasters

Posted in Emergency Communications, FCC Fines
One million dollars is still a big fine, even though the FCC has been handing out fines for that amount, or more, many times in recent months. But fines rarely hit these levels for broadcasters. But, yesterday, the FCC issued such a fine – hitting iHeart Media with a $1 Million fine as part of… Continue Reading

May Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Including EEO Mid-Term Reports, FM Auction, Emergency Communications Compliance, TV Market Modification Comments, Class A TV Digital Conversion Deadline and More

Posted in Broadcast Auctions, Cable Carriage, EEO Compliance/Diversity, Emergency Communications, FM Radio, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Television
May is one of those months where there are no routine, recurring FCC regulatory filing deadlines – no EEO reports or Quarterly Issues Programs lists, no Children’s Television Programming Reports or noncommercial station ownership report deadlines. But, as with any month, that does not mean that there are no dates of concern for broadcasters –… Continue Reading

A Seminar on FCC Rules for College Broadcasters – And an FCC Case on the Limits on Leniency on Fines For Rule Violations By Noncommercial Broadcasters

Posted in Appearances, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, Noncommercial Broadcasting
Last month, I did a seminar at the College Media Association about the FCC legal issues that college broadcasters need to think about – talking about required FCC filings, pubic file obligations, underwriting issues, and programming that can get the broadcaster into trouble. Slides from that presentation, which present only an outline of the more… Continue Reading

NAB Requests Extension of May Obligation for TV Stations to Convert Emergency Information from Text to Speech

Posted in Digital Television, Emergency Communications, Television
The FCC two years ago adopted a rule requiring that television stations that provide emergency information visually (e.g. through open captions or crawls), outside of news programming, convert that emergency information into audio and run that audio on SAP channels (secondary audio programming channels – usually used for Spanish language translations of English-language programs). That… Continue Reading

FCC Fines: $17,000 for Unsecure AM Tower Fence (Not Owning the Tower Site is No Excuse); $25,000 for Missing Quarterly Issues Programs Lists; $22,000 for Nonfunctioning EAS and Wrong Tower Coordinates

Posted in AM Radio, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, General FCC, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Tower Issues
A flurry of fines against broadcasters have come out of the FCC in the last week.  These fines highlight the scrutiny under which owners of broadcast stations can find themselves should an FCC Field Office inspector knock on their door.  If the FCC pays a visit and finds a violation, a station is often looking… Continue Reading

More Big Penalties for Use of EAS Tones in Non-Emergency Programming

Posted in Advertising Issues, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
The FCC seems to be making another statement – releasing one decision upholding two very large fines against major cable programmers for improper use of EAS tones in ads for a movie, while just two days later releasing another decision approving a consent decree with a broadcaster imposing a penalty and monitoring conditions for using… Continue Reading

A Week of Emergency Alert System Actions at the FCC – Fines Including One for $46,000 for EAS Tones in a Commercial, and Reviews of Best Practices for the System

Posted in Advertising Issues, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, Programming Regulations
Perhaps Sunday’s anniversary of Pearl Harbor made the FCC want to make this week one which concentrated on emergency communications issues, or perhaps it is just a coincidence.  But the FCC has been active in the past 7 days dealing with emergency communications related items for broadcasters.  On Wednesday, it issued a consent decree by… Continue Reading

FCC Extends Comment Deadlines on Proceedings on Multilingual Emergency Information and Network Nonduplication/Syndicated Exclusivity Repeal, and Announces Incentive Auction Rules are on the Agenda for May 15 Meeting

Posted in Cable Carriage, Digital Television, Emergency Communications, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Television
Some quick items to update some of our recent articles.  The FCC has granted extensions of time to comment in two rulemaking proceedings, and released its tentative agenda for its next open meeting where it will adopt an initial order in the incentive auction proceeding.  That’s the proceeding that we most recently wrote about here… Continue Reading

Activating the FM Chip in Mobile Phones – As Blackberry Steps Up, a Policy and Product Review

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Emergency Communications, FM Radio, Internet Radio, On Line Media
This blog usually covers legal and policy issues, not product reviews.  And this article will at least try to relate policy decisions to a product review, but mostly it’s to share a cool new feature on my phone.  To explain, I am one of those holdouts still using a Blackberry.  In dealing with new media… Continue Reading

FCC Requests Comments on Proposal to Require Multilingual EAS Alerts – Comments Due April 28

Posted in Emergency Communications
With so much going on at the FCC and in connection with other topics that we consider, I’m sometimes late getting to all of the issues that arise, and sometimes never mention some of them.  But there is one interesting and important proceeding that the Commission has recently resuscitated and is worthy of mention –… Continue Reading

Be on the Alert for EAS Tones in Non-Emergency Situations – Big FCC Fines for These Violations and Other EAS Issues

Posted in Advertising Issues, Cable Carriage, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines
The FCC has recently staked out a policy that the any use of EAS tones, or tones that sound like those alerts, outside of a real emergency, will lead to big fines.  Since the beginning of the year, the FCC has issued notices proposing fines totaling over $2.2 million against some of the biggest media… Continue Reading

Penalties of $39,000 and $25,000 Assessed For Video Programming Containing Fake EAS Messages

Posted in Advertising Issues, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines
The FCC is cracking down hard on television stations and cable companies who use EAS alerts – or even simulations of such alerts – in advertising, promotions, and programming.  In two orders released this week, the FCC imposed big penalties on video companies who used fake EAS alerts in commercial messages.  In one case, it… Continue Reading

FCC Seeks Comments on Technical Details of Nationwide EAS Test – Preparing for the Next Test?

Posted in Emergency Communications
In 2011, the FCC conducted the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System – commonly known as EAS (see our article here about the FCC’s report on the results of that test). While the system was originally created to convey Presidential alerts to the nation, it has never been used for that purpose and, until… Continue Reading

FCC Issues Report on Nationwide EAS Test And Refers to the Enforcement Bureau Stations That Did Not Submit the Results of the Test – Could Fines Follow?

Posted in Emergency Communications, FCC Fines
Almost a year and a half ago, the FCC held its first ever test of the EAS system designed to alert the country in the event of a nationwide emergency. On Friday, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issued a report on the results of the test. While there have been many articles in the… Continue Reading

On April Fools Day – Remember the FCC’s Hoax Rule!

Posted in Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, General FCC
It’s time for our annual April Fools Day warning – be careful with on air pranks prepared especially for the day. This year, with thetragedy caused by the Australian morning show hosts calling the nurse for the Duchess of Cambridge, broadcasters have an example of what can happen when an on-air prank goes wrong. Where harm… Continue Reading

Fines to Broadcasters, Including an LPFM Station, for Lack of Working EAS – and a Reminder to Avoid EAS Tones in Commercial Messages

Posted in Emergency Communications, FCC Fees
In the last few weeks, the FCC has fined a number of broadcast stations for failing to keep up with their EAS obligations. In one case, a low power FM operator was fined $1750 for not having any EAS receiver installed at its station – and not knowing that it was required. LPFM stations must have a… Continue Reading

Hackers Use EAS to Send Alert of Zombie Attack – FCC Issues Urgent Warning to Broadcasters to Secure Their EAS Systems

Posted in Emergency Communications
In the last two days, several radio and television stations across the country had their station’s EAS systems hacked – and ended up broadcasting alerts dealing with zombie attacks that went out using the standard EAS systems and appeared or sounded to the viewer or listener to be real alerts. The FCC and others involved in… Continue Reading

FCC Issues $8000 Fine for Radio Station Where EAS Messages Could Not Interrupt Programming During All Hours of Operation

Posted in Emergency Communications
With very limited exceptions, all broadcast stations are required to participate in Emergency Alert System, and to transmit any alerts that they may receive during their hours of operation. The FCC has just proposed to issue an $8000 fine to a station that allegedly had a working EAS receiver  (unlike some of the stations we havewritten about before… Continue Reading

Broadcasters Giving Back – Thoughts on Sandy, Public Service and Communications Charitable Contributions

Posted in Emergency Communications, General FCC, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
For one blog entry, I’ll depart from our usual discussion of legal issues. There is plenty of time to analyze the effect that last night’s election will have on the broadcast industry, and to discuss other issues of importance to broadcasters. Instead, as we approach the holiday season, I thought that I’d go into another direction. I’ve just… Continue Reading

FCC Issues Emergency Communications Reminders to Broadcasters and Other Communications Entities in the Path of Hurricane Sandy

Posted in Emergency Communications, Television
With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the US East Coast, the FCC has issued reminders to consumers and communications companies about what to do in areas affected by the storm. Late Friday, it issued two public notices. The first public notice advised broadcasters and other communications companies that the FCC will be available 24-7 over the weekend and during the storm… Continue Reading

FCC Issues Reminders to Broadcasters in the Path of Hurricane Issac – Provide Visuals Of Emergency Information and Notify the FCC of Service Outages

Posted in Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, Television
With Hurricane Isaac soon to make landfall on the Gulf Coast, the FCC is issuing its usual reminders to broadcasters and other communications facilities in areas that are likely to be affected by the storm.  It has today issued two public notices.  The first Public Notice reminds video providers – particularly television stations, but other video providers as well –… Continue Reading

FCC Retracts Text-to-Speech Prohibition from New EAS Rules

Posted in Emergency Communications
The conversion of EAS alerts from text to speech by broadcast stations and cable systems, through systems contained in the stations and systems EAS equipment, was prohibited in the FCC’s Fifth Report and Order (summarized here) implementing the rules for the technology for the Common Alerting Protocol - the Internet-based alert system that must be activated… Continue Reading