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.”