EAS Test Reporting System

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

FEMA and the FCC announced that this year’s Nationwide EAS Test is scheduled for October 4, 2023 (with a back-up date of October 11 in case there is a real or threatened event that occurs around October 4).  FEMA will transmit the nationwide test of the EAS at 2:20 pm EDT on October 4, 2023 using the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), the Internet-delivered warning system that has been required for broadcasters for about a dozen years. The test will be disseminated in English and Spanish as a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) message using the Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System (NPT) code.  FEMA issued a Release announcing the test.  The FCC issued a much more extensive Public Notice which includes a list of recommended steps that broadcasters should take to prepare for the alert, and a reminder for broadcasters to be sure that their information in the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) is accurate and up-to-date. 

While the steps recommended by the FCC to prepare for the test are all somewhat obvious, they should still be reviewed by broadcasters to make sure that they have not overlooked anything that can enhance their preparation for the test.  Among the recommendations from the FCC are that the broadcaster review their role in their state’s EAS plan, and make sure that their equipment and software has been updated to the most current versions. The FCC also suggests making sure the EAS clock on station EAS equipment is synchronized with the official time used by the National Institute of Standards and Technology which is used by the IPAWS system.  Having an accessible EAS Official Handbook and reviewing the handbook for instructions on the operation of the EAS system is also on the FCC’s list.Continue Reading Nationwide EAS Test Set for October 4 – Start Your Preparations Now

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.

  • By a Public Notice issued on December 15, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau told broadcasters to submit

The FCC on Monday released a Public Notice announcing that its next test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) is scheduled for August 7 with a back-up date of August 21 (back-up dates being provided in the event that there are severe weather situations or other emergencies in early August which could increase the potential for public confusion on the originally scheduled date). This test will, unlike the last test we wrote about here, rely solely on the broadcast-based daisy chain where the test is initiated on certain broadcast primary stations, then rebroadcast by stations that monitor those primary stations, who then pass on the test to other stations that monitor these secondary stations and so on down the line to all the EAS participants. This test will not use the Internet-based IPAWS system used in other recent tests.

Thus, in the run-up to the August test, broadcasters should be sure that their EAS receivers are in working order and are tuned to receive the correct stations that they should be monitoring in order to receive alerts. Check your state EAS plan to make sure you know what stations you are to monitor. Make sure that you have been receiving and logging (in your station log) weekly and monthly tests as required by the FCC rules. If you have not been receiving these tests, that likely indicates problems either with your receivers or with the stations that you are monitoring – so find out the reasons for missing tests now and take any corrective actions (as you are required to by the rules). Check out all of your other EAS equipment to make sure that everything is working properly and prepare for the other paperwork obligations that arise because of the upcoming test.
Continue Reading Next EAS Test Scheduled for August 7 – Updated ETRS Forms Due July 3

The FCC recently released a Public Notice reminding all EAS participants that they need to file ETRS Form One by August 27, 2018. This form needs to be filed by all radio and TV stations, including LPFM and LPTV stations (unless those LPTV stations simply act as a translator for another station). While the

All EAS Participants – including all full-power broadcasters – must complete the 2017 ETRS Form One on or before August 28, 2017.  We wrote about this obligation here. The filing deadline was set for next week as the ETRS system is used so that stations can report on the results of nationwide EAS tests.

In our reminder on August regulatory dates for broadcasters, we noted that broadcasters must register their stations in a new FCC filing system that will allow them to electronically report on the success of the next EAS National Test, to be conducted on September 28. The new registration system, called EAS Test Reporting

As we enter the last full month of summer, when many are already looking forward to the return to the more normal routines of autumn, regulatory obligations for broadcasters don’t end. Even if you are trying to squeeze in that last-minute vacation before school begins or other Fall commitments arise, there are filing deadlines this month, as well as comment deadline in an FCC proceeding dealing with broadcasters’ public inspection file obligations. Some of the August regulatory obligations are routine, others are new – but broadcasters need to be aware of them all.

On the routine side of things, by August 1, EEO Public Inspection File Reports need to be placed in the public inspection files of radio and TV stations in California, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wisconsin, if those stations are part of an Employment Unit with five or more full-time employees. For Radio Station Employment Units with 11 or more full-time employees in Illinois and Wisconsin and Television Employment Units with five or more full-time employees in North Carolina and South Carolina, FCC Form 397 Mid-Term Reports need to be submitted to the FCC by August 1. These Mid-Term Reports provide the FCC with your last two EEO public file reports, plus some additional information. In the past, they have sometimes triggered more thorough EEO reviews and, in some cases, even fines. Yesterday, we wrote about the kinds of issues that can get a broadcaster into trouble when the FCC looks at your EEO performance, so be sure to stay on top of your EEO obligations. We wrote more about the Form 397 Mid-Term Reports, here.
Continue Reading August Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – New Fees, EAS Registration Requirement, EEO Obligations and More