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

On the surface, September appears to have few scheduled regulatory filing dates and deadlines.  But it is period in which many broadcasters will be busy with deadlines that occur in early October and into the rest of the Fall.  TV stations should be finishing their decision-making on must-carry/retransmission consent elections, which need to be in their public files by October 2 (as the 1st is a holiday).  In preparation for the early November filing window for new LPFM stations (see our article here), potential applicants should be determining if a station can technically “fit” in their area without prohibited shortspacings to other stations; if one can be located in their area, they need to locate a transmitter site; and they need to take all the steps other steps needed to be ready to file their application in the early November window.  One of the first regulatory dates of note in September is the freeze on FM translator modification applications that goes into effect on September 1 in anticipation of the LPFM window.  The freeze will be in effect at least through the end of the LPFM filing window on November 8. 

September will also bring the date for the filing of annual regulatory fees by commercial stations.  We recently noted that the FCC earlier this month released its Report and Order setting the amount of the annual regulatory fees that broadcasters must pay, but the Commission has not yet followed up on that Order by issuing a Public Notice setting the dates for payment.  As these payments must be made before the federal government’s October 1 start of the new fiscal year, we expect that Public Notice any day.  We also expect that, as in the past, the FCC’s Media Bureau will release a fee filing guide for the broadcast services.  Licensees should continue to monitor this item closely so that they are ready to pay those fees in a window that will open in September, as the failure to timely pay regulatory fees will result in substantial penalties.Continue Reading September Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Regulatory Fees, HD Radio Power Increase Comments, EAS Filings, and Preparation for Many October Deadlines  

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.

  • FEMA and the FCC announced that this year’s Nationwide EAS Test is scheduled for October 4, 2023 (with a back-up

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.

  • As widely reported, Gigi Sohn has asked President Biden to withdraw her nomination to become the third Democratic FCC Commissioner

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 designated for evidentiary hearing a series of applications that, if granted, would transfer control of TEGNA

There are normally a host of regulatory obligations at the beginning of February, but because of technical issues with the FCC’s online public file and LMS systems, many February 1 dates, as well as some January regulatory deadlines, have been extended to late February.

Due to technical problems that affected FCC filings throughout the month of January, the FCC last week issued a Public Notice extending the deadlines for all filings in the FCC’s LMS or online public file systems that were due in late January and early February.  The new deadline for these filings is February 28, 2023.  This new deadline applies to TV license renewal applications (including the associated Equal Employment Opportunity Report (Form 2100, Schedule 396)) for television stations, LPTV stations, TV translators and Class A stations in New York and New Jersey (which had been due February 1); Annual Children’s Programming Reports (which had been due on January 30); and EEO Public File Reports for broadcast employment units with 5 or more full-time employees in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Oklahoma (reports that normally would have had to have been uploaded to a station’s public file by February 1).  Quarterly Issues Programs lists for all broadcast stations had been due to be uploaded to the public file by January 10, but that date was initially extended until January 31, and the deadline has now been further extended to February 28 by last week’s Public Notice. Note that the Public Notice is broad, stating that any public file document due to be uploaded or any FCC application to be filed through LMS must be filed by February 28.  Notwithstanding the extension, licensees should not wait until the last minute to upload documents, as the intermittent problems that have plagued the systems could persist for some time and make meeting even the extended deadline problematic, especially if you wait for the last minute to try to file.  For more details about the extension and about other technical issues with the FCC’s filing systems, see the article we recently published on this subject. 

February 28 is the deadline by which EAS participants must file their EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) Form One.  Filing instructions are provided in the Public Notice issued by the FCC earlier this month (see also our articles here and here).  All EAS Participants – including Low Power FM stations (LPFM), Class D non-commercial educational FM stations, and EAS Participants that are silent pursuant to a grant of Special Temporary Authority – are required to register and file in ETRS, with the following exceptions:  Analog and digital low power television (LPTV) stations that operate as television broadcast translator stations, FM broadcast booster stations and FM translator stations that entirely rebroadcast the programming of other local FM broadcast stations, and analog and digital broadcast stations that operate as satellites or repeaters of a hub station (or common studio or control point if there is no hub station) and rebroadcast 100 percent of the programming of the hub station (or common studio or control point) are not required to register and file in ETRS.  Carefully read the Public Notice and the form to make sure that all necessary information is properly uploaded.Continue Reading February Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Renewal Applications, EEO Reports, Quarterly Issues Programs Lists, Children’s Programming Reports, Copyright Fees for Webcasters, ETRS Form One, and More

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.

  • In a Public Notice released late on Friday, the FCC’s Media Bureau extended the deadline for the upload of Quarterly