Fines to Broadcasters, Including an LPFM Station, for Lack of Working EAS - and a Reminder to Avoid EAS Tones in Commercial Messages
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 decoder to receive EAS messages, but can opt out of having an encoder to send such messages. This station had neither. In another case, an $8000 fine was imposed on an AM/FM combo that did not have an operational EAS system, and whose logs did not show that it had received any EAS alerts since 2008. A station's Chief Operator should be noting in the official station log each week the receipt and transmission of required tests. If this is done, then an error of this magnitude should not take place.
In a different aspect of the EAS rules, there was recently reports on an advisory by the Society of Broadcast Engineers about the trailer from a movie that contains actual EAS tones, which could trigger EAS alerts on stations monitoring the stations on which the ads are run. As we have written before, the FCC rules prohibit the use of EAS tones on any broadcast station other than for required tests or for an actual emergency. As was the case with the recent zombie alerts, using these EAS tones improperly could undermine the EAS system. So, if you get a commercial where the producers have ignored this prohibition, don't air it, as it could lead to FCC actions.