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

The FCC has released its EAS Handbook, specially directed to the Nationwide EAS Alert that will occur on November 9.  This Handbook is to be posted at all stations that are participants in the EAS Network (which is virtually all stations) for purposes of this test only (stations should also have the standard EAS Handbook at their control points, but this Handbook will be used for the Nationwide Test).  Cable systems are also participating in the EAS system and are included in the test as well. As we have written before, the November 9 test is the first time that the Emergency Alert System (originally adopted in the 1960s as the Emergency Broadcast System) will be tested for a national alert, even though that was the original, and remains the primary, focus of the EAS system.  EAS is now used mostly for localized weather and Amber alerts. 

The Handbook also points to three FCC forms, to be accessed and filed online through the FCC’s website.  While the use of these electronic forms are, according to an FCC Public Notice summarizing the EAS obligations, not mandatory, any station not choosing to use this system will have to file a paper report at the FCC by December 27 providing all of the required information.  If you elect to use the simplified electronic forms, Form 1 is to be completed by all stations and cable systems prior to the November 9 test, to provide information about the station or system and a contact person.  Form 2 is to be submitted on November 9, indicating whether the test was received.  Form 3 is submitted after the test, by December 27, to report information about how the test was received, or why it was not received.  Stations deciding to use the electronic filing (which is easier than getting an original and a mandatory copy to the FCC if a paper form is filed) should begin to review and complete Form 1 immediately.

In addition, the NAB has provided much material on the EAS Nationwide test, available here, including PSAs that stations should run now alerting the public that the November 9 test is only a test and not a real emergency, and also providing a suggested slide for TV stations to air during the test itself.  The message that this is only a test, to be aired by radio stations, is contained in the Emergency Action Notification message that will be sent to stations during the alert.  A sample of that text is in the EAS Handbook.  As this is an important test of the EAS system, and will require broadcasters to report on their compliance, everyone should be preparing to take part – and checking their systems to make sure that they are fully functional – now. 


Continue Reading FCC Releases Handbook for Nationwide EAS Test – First FCC Form to be Filed Now In Anticipation of the November 9 Test