FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has notified the FCC that it will be conducting the next nationwide test of the EAS system on September 27, 2017 (with a back-up date of October 4, 2017 – in the event potential real emergencies make the earlier date one that could cause confusion). The FCC has updated its reporting system for stations to provide information about the success of the test (recently releasing these instructions to remind stations to create user names in the system), and should be better able to track station’s participation in the test. Thus, to make sure that you can report a successful test, this is a good time for stations to insure that they are monitoring the correct EAS sources as required by their state EAS plan, that they have their online EAS CAPS alert systems functional, and that they are properly receiving, conducting and logging their weekly and monthly tests.
The consequences of not having a properly functioning EAS system were highlighted by a proposed fine announced last week – suggesting a $66,000 fine against an Alaskan noncommercial FM station for a variety of violations. Emphasized in the FCC’s order were the EAS failures of the station, including its failure to have an EAS Handbook at the control point for the station, the failure to monitor the correct EAS sources and the transmission of alerts meant to be sent by another station in a different EAS operational area. The fines proposed by the FCC covered other violations as well including the failure to post the station’s license at its control point, the failure to maintain station technical logs, not having the required main studio staffing, not designating in writing a chief operator for the station, and not responding to FCC inquiries about these deficiencies. Obviously, the entire $66,000 proposed fine was not all EAS related, but the EAS deficiencies did merit special attention in the press release issued by the FCC about the fine, and seemed to have triggered the investigation that led to the discovery of the other perceived problems in station operation. This proposed fine highlights the need for stations to maintain a properly functioning EAS system, especially in light of the upcoming national test.