The Nationwide EAS Test is scheduled for October 4. Some had wondered if the test would be delayed if the government shut down over budget issues. While an alert could be transmitted whether or not nonessential government employees were working, there was a fear that the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) would not be operational.
On paper, this October appears to be a busy month for regulatory deadlines. But the lack of congressional action to fund the federal government for the coming year (or “continuing resolutions” adopted to allow government agencies to function at their current levels) is making a federal government shutdown appear inevitable. If a government shutdown does occur, the FCC, the FTC, and the Copyright Office may also shutdown – which, as with previous shutdowns, may result in many of the regulatory deadlines discussed below being delayed.
According to the August 2023 FCC Shutdown Plan, if a potential lapse in appropriations is imminent, the FCC will determine whether and for how long prior year funds will be made available to continue all agency operations during a lapse. To date, however, the FCC has not stated whether it plans to remain open – and if so, for how long – if a government shutdown does occur. Details from the FCC and other agencies should be released shortly given the shutdown that may well occur this weekend.
Until we receive such guidance, the tentative October regulatory deadlines for broadcasters are provided below. Even if the government does shut down, these dates will likely be rescheduled for soon after the funding issue is resolved. So, let’s look at the upcoming deadlines. Continue Reading October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Nationwide EAS Test, Annual EEO Public File Reports, Retransmission Consent Elections, Biennial Ownership Reports, and More (If the Government is Open)
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
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
Here are some of the regulatory developments from the last week of significance to broadcasters , with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.
- At the last minute, the deadline for broadcasters to pay their annual regulatory fees was extended to Monday, September
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 and FEMA conducted their annual Nationwide Test of the EAS system on Wednesday, August 11. All broadcasters should
While the regulatory deadlines in August may be a bit lighter than other months, there are still several important regulatory dates to keep track of, some of which are detailed below. All broadcasters should have August 11 circled and highlighted on their calendars as the date of the next National EAS Test. And there are renewal and EEO deadlines, as well as several comment dates on FCC regulatory proposals.
After skipping last year’s annual test due to the pandemic, FEMA and the FCC chose August 11 to hold this year’s National EAS Test. All broadcasters should work with their engineers and technical staff to make sure their EAS equipment is operating properly and is set to monitoring the stations that they are required to monitor by their state EAS plan. By the day after the test, August 12, broadcasters must file Form Two in the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) portal with “day of test” information. Then, by September 27, broadcasters must file in ETRS Form Three with detailed post-test data. The information shared with FEMA and the FCC allows them to determine the successes and failures of the test.
Continue Reading August Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: National EAS Test, License Renewals, EEO Reporting, Political Broadcasting Rules Proposals, Media Ownership Comments, Annual Regulatory Fees, and More
While summer has started and minds wander to vacation time, there are still many regulatory obligations to which a broadcaster must pay attention in July. To help stay focused, we have written below about some of the important dates and deadlines applicable to broadcasters in July – and a reminder of what to be ready for when the calendar rolls over to August.
The one regular deadline applicable to all full-power and Class A TV broadcasters in July is the July 10 deadline for stations to upload to their online public file their Quarterly Issues Programs lists identifying the issues of importance to their community and the programs that they broadcast in the second quarter of the year that addressed those issues. Prepare these lists carefully and accurately, as they are your only official records of how your station is serving the public and addressing the needs and interests of your community. You need to first list the significant issues facing the station’s community in the second quarter. Then, for each issue identified, you should list several programs that addressed the issue in some serious way. For each program, the description should include the issue that the program addressed, the name of the program or segment that covered the issue, the date and time the program or segment aired, the duration of the coverage of the issue, and a narrative describing how the issue was treated. Timely uploading of these lists to the station’s online public file is especially important during the ongoing license renewal cycle when FCC staff are looking closely at public file contents. See our article here for more on this obligation.
Continue Reading July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists, The End of Analog TV, EAS Test Registration Requirement, Radio and TV Rulemakings, and More