EAS National Test Deadlines Announced

On July 18, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that there will be a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on September 28, 2016, at 2:20pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).  All EAS Participants are required to participate during the National EAS Test, and they must register with the FCC’s new EAS reporting system by August 26, 2016.

The purpose of the Emergency Alert System is to disseminate emergency information from the President, as well as state and local authorities.  While not all EAS Participants have the same obligations under the FCC’s rules (the requirements are set forth in 47 C.F.R. § 11.11), all EAS Participants must be ready on September 28, 2016, to participate in the National EAS Test, and then submit two reports after the test.

The FCC’s EAS rules designate the following entities as EAS Participants that must participate in the National EAS Test:

  • Radio Broadcasters;
  • Television Broadcasters;
  • Cable Systems;
  • Wireless Cable Systems;
  • Direct Broadcast Satellite licensees;
  • Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service licensees; and
  • Wireline Video Systems.

All EAS Participants must register (Form One) in the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) no later than August 26, 2016 so that they can file the post-test reports.  Form One requires the submission of detailed information regarding each station/system that is participating in the National EAS Test, including the identification of the EAS equipment model and version of software that has been installed.

After the National EAS Test, the FCC will require all EAS Participants to submit two reports regarding their experiences during the National EAS Test.  The first report (Form Two) must be submitted by 11:59pm on the same day of the National EAS Test.  The second report (Form Three) must be submitted by November 14, 2016.

Both Form Two and Form Three request confirmation that the EAS Participant received the EAS signal from its monitoring source(s) and responded to the EAS signal in accordance with the applicable FCC’s rules.  Form Three requests additional information about the EAS Participant’s performance during the National EAS Test, and whether the participant experienced any complications.

We recommend that EAS Participants begin the ETRS registration process as soon as possible.  The FCC has indicated that it would permit the submission of batch reports for those filers that are responsible for more than one station/system.  However, parties interested in having the ability to submit a batch report must first contact the FCC staff directly wait to receive separate registration directions.   Thus, starting the process now may help filers avoid a possible delay in receiving this information, and help ensure that the registration process can be completed prior to the August 26 deadline.

About Lee G. Petro

Lee G. Petro is Of Counsel to the firm’s Telecommunications, Media & Technology Team in the Government & Regulatory Affairs Practice Group. Lee focuses his practice on the intersection of technology and regulatory developments before the Federal Communications Commission. Lee represents broadcasters, wireline and wireless companies, and equipment manufacturers in their efforts to introduce new services, including spectrum leasing, transactional matters, and obtaining authority for experimental services. Lee also uses his extensive experience to assist clients in introducing innovative uses of the spectrum, and has provided counsel for health care facilities seeking to navigate the FCC’s regulatory proceedings. Since 2009, Lee has served as pro bono counsel to the Martha Wright Petitioners regarding its decade-long effort to have the FCC adopt caps on the telephone rates and fees charged to inmates and their families.