FCC Issues EAS Enforcement Advisory

Posted on January 29th, 2021 by

In early January, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued an advisory reminding all Emergency Alert System (EAS) participants of their compliance obligations. All broadcast stations except LPFM and LPTV stations not originating programming are required to have operating EAS equipment and maintain EAS logs to reflect their various tests or if/when a piece of equipment is not functioning. We recommend a review of the advisory.

With 2020 being the exception, the FCC has conducted annual national tests of the EAS system, requiring stations to make various filings to certify their readiness, participation and problems. In 2019, the test was moved to the summer timeframe after previously having been consistently held in the fall months. No national test has yet been announced for 2021, but the advisory does specifically review that testing and reporting, even noting that a public notice announcing the test is usually issued two months in advance. Even if there is no national test, EAS participants are required to renew certain identifying information annually with the FCC in the EAS Reporting System (ETRS).

The advisory also includes a reminder that noncompliance with the EAS rules will subject the violator to sanctions, including substantial monetary forfeitures. While not specifically covered, the FCC also issues substantial fines against stations airing actual or imitation EAS warning tones in programming.