accessibility of emergency information

On the anniversary of September 11, it seems appropriate to highlight the upcoming October 4 Nationwide Test of the EAS system.  While EAS was not activated during the September 11 emergency, the events of that date have provided much impetus for federal emergency authorities to strengthen the EAS system.  Part of that effort has been the regular testing of the Nationwide EAS alert system.  As we wrote in August, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has scheduled a nationwide EAS test for October 4, 2023, at approximately 2:20 pm EDT, using the Internet-based Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) (with a back-up date of October 11 if necessary).  In a Public Notice released in August, the FCC set out steps that broadcasters should take to prepare for that test.

Just last week, the FCC’s  Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau released a further Public Notice to remind Emergency Alert System participants of their obligation to ensure that EAS alerts are accessible to persons with disabilities.  For TV stations, to be visually accessible, the EAS text must be displayed as follows:

  • At the top of the television screen or where it will not interfere with other visual messages (e.g., closed captioning),
  • In a manner (i.e., font size, color, contrast, location, and speed) that is readily readable and understandable (see below),
  • Without overlapping lines or extending beyond the viewable display (except for video crawls that intentionally scroll on and off the screen),
  • In full at least once during any EAS message. Text should scroll at a speed that allows viewers to read the crawl as if they were going to read it aloud, and
  • The background and text colors should sufficiently contrast to allow for readability. For example, a bright green background with white text may not provide sufficient contrast. Green and red should also be avoided as viewers who are color blind have difficulty seeing these colors.

In addition, the audio portion of an EAS message must be played in full at least once to ensure it is accessible to viewers who are blind or have low vision and should be spoken at a pace that allows for a listener to understand the content. Continue Reading Reminder: September 15 Deadline for Updating ETRS Form One in Preparation for Nationwide EAS Test, and an FCC Notice on the Accessibility of EAS Messages

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past two weeks (including events that occurred during our hiatus for the Labor Day holiday), with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The Senate approved Anna Gomez to be

The FCC last week released a Public Notice reminding TV stations and other video programming providers, including cable and satellite television providers, of their obligation to make emergency information accessible for all viewers.  With a few tweaks, the reminder is very similar to what the FCC has issued in past years.  This year, the reminder added smoke from Canadian wildfires as a possible emergency about which stations might be distributing important safety information, joining a list that was only two years ago updated to include pandemics.  The FCC notice is to remind video providers of their obligations to make emergency information accessible to all of their audience, even those with visual or auditory disabilities. 

The FCC notice, in addition to wildfires and pandemics, provides examples of the kinds of emergencies that the rules are intended to cover – including “tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, tidal waves, earthquakes, icing conditions, heavy snows, widespread fires, discharge of toxic gases, widespread power failures, industrial explosions, civil disorders, school closings and changes in school bus schedules resulting from such conditions, and warnings and watches of impending changes in weather.”  The Commission considers the “critical details” about such emergencies to include “specific details regarding the areas that will be affected by the emergency, evacuation orders, detailed descriptions of areas to be evacuated, specific evacuation routes, approved shelters or the way to take shelter in one’s home, instructions on how to secure personal property, road closures, and how to obtain relief assistance.”Continue Reading FCC Reminder About Conveying Emergency Information in an Accessible Manner to All TV Audience Members

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • Around this time of year, the FCC typically issues a Public Notice reminding TV broadcasters, cable operators, satellite television services,

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC has requested comments on NAB’s petition asking the Commission to grant a two-year extension of the May 26,

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC’s Media Bureau released a consent decree, including the payment of a $60,000 penalty, with an LPTV station

FCC staff earlier this week released a Public Notice reminding TV stations and other video programming providers, including cable and satellite television providers, of their obligation to make emergency information accessible for all viewers.  With a few tweaks, the reminder is very similar to what the FCC has issued in past years.  Here is what we wrote about that notice in the past, equally applicable to the one released this week:

The FCC provides examples of the kinds of emergencies that the rules are intended to cover – which for the first time this year includes pandemics.  Other examples of the emergencies that these obligations would apply to include “tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, tidal waves, earthquakes, icing conditions, heavy snows, widespread fires, discharge of toxic gases, widespread power failures, industrial explosions, civil disorders, school closings and changes in school bus schedules resulting from such conditions, and warnings and watches of impending changes in weather.”  The details that must be conveyed to the entire audience include “specific details regarding the areas that will be affected by the emergency, evacuation orders, detailed descriptions of areas to be evacuated, specific evacuation routes, approved shelters or the way to take shelter in one’s home, instructions on how to secure personal property, road closures, and how to obtain relief assistance.”  The obligations are intended to cover not just the area where the emergency is occurring, but also in adjacent areas that may be affected by the effects of the emergency – and the obligations extend not just to the immediate time of the emergency but also to information about dealing with its aftermath.  What do these rules require?
Continue Reading FCC Issues Annual Reminder on the Need for Accessibility of Emergency Information from Video Providers

While Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror and the holiday season is upon us, broadcasters cannot ignore the regulatory world until the new year, as much is going on in December.  Below are some of the several important regulatory dates and deadlines in the coming month that you may need to deal with before the celebrations begin.

By December 1, all licensees of commercial and noncommercial full power TV, Class A TV, low power TV, AM radio, and FM radio stations must submit an ownership report that details the licensee’s ownership structure as of October 1, 2021.  The FCC has warned that there will be penalties for stations that do not file these reports.  Licensees with ownership structures that include parent entities must also file a report for each of those entities.  An informational session run by FCC staff is archived, here, and answers to frequently asked questions are available, here.  See our blog post covering ownership reporting, here.
Continue Reading December Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: Ownership Reports, License Renewal Filings, EEO Filings and Reporting, Ancillary or Supplementary Service Fees, Political Advertising Reports, and More

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the last week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC this week reminded television broadcasters of their obligation to make televised emergency information accessible to persons with disabilities.