FCC Enforcement Bureau Pursuing Stations Over National EAS Test Noncompliance

Posted on April 27th, 2022 by

In recent weeks, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has sent hundreds of broadcast stations official letters of inquiry regarding their compliance with the 2021 National EAS Test.  In cases that we are aware of, those letters were sent via certified mail, return receipt, to the station mailing address.  The letter gives stations 30 days to respond to the inquiry with documentation along with either affidavits or declarations under penalty of perjury.  The inquiry sets out a series of questions that ask about the submission of the ETRS Forms 1, 2 and 3 for the 2021 National EAS Test.  A spreadsheet is provided and must be completed in electronic format.  Responses must be emailed to representatives at the Enforcement Bureau.

For several years, the FCC has warned that it might take enforcement action against stations that did not properly participate in the annual National EAS Tests, but to our knowledge, this is the first time it has taken formal action regarding compliance.  We do not know whether, after receiving responses to its inquiries, the FCC will fine or take other actions against stations for noncompliance, but that seems likely unless perhaps there were circumstances that were out of the station’s control.

The focus of the FCC’S inquiries appears to be stations that did not file the ETRS Forms 1, 2 or 3.  The Form 1 is filed before the test to report on station equipment and receive stations, while Form 2 is filed on the day of the test to report receipt and retransmission of the test, and Form 3 is filed after the test to report any issues.  Neglecting to file any of the forms leaves a gap in information for the test and hinders the FCC’s ability to assess the success of a test. Stations should proceed with caution and ensure that all information submitted is 100% accurate.

We anticipate an announcement soon regarding the 2022 National EAS Test, so stations should take these recent developments seriously and be sure to have equipment and personnel ready to participate in and properly report on the upcoming test.  Typically, the National Test reporting begins during the summer.  In 2021, the initial public notice was in June. The actual test was conducted in early August and the ETRS Form 1 deadline was in early July.