Required EAS Actions in November 2017

Posted on October 31st, 2017 by

On the EAS front, two dates in November are important for all broadcasters – one is a deadline to provide information about station multilingual EAS capabilities, and the other is the deadline for filing EAS Form 3 as part of the now concluded EAS National Test.

Let’s begin with the first one, which just popped up out of nowhere. A few years ago, while the FCC was updating its EAS rules, commenters pushed for the FCC to mandate EAS transmissions in other languages. The FCC declined to mandate such transmissions, but did indicate that it would gather information from broadcasters to see whether anyone was doing so or was capable of doing so, and adopted a rule requiring broadcasters to provide the information. The deadline for gathering the information was set for 12 months after the order’s effective date, which turns out to be November 6, 2017. Those pushing for a multilingual EAS mandate were not happy, and a lawsuit resulted. The court just ruled (in the past week or so) that the FCC was not required to mandate multilingual EAS transmissions, and in reaching its conclusion, cited to the agency’s efforts and rule about gathering further information from stations.

So here’s what broadcasters now have to do (for every station). No later than November 6, 2017, each station, as an EAS participant, must provide the following information to their respective EAS State Emergency Communications Committees (SECC): (a) a description of any actions taken individually, in conjunction with other EAS Participants in the geographic area, and/or in consultation with state and local emergency authorities, to make EAS alert content available in languages other than English to its non-English speaking audience(s), (b) a description of any future actions planned, in consultation with state and local emergency authorities, to provide EAS alert content available in languages other than English to its non-English speaking audience(s), along with an explanation for the decision to plan or not plan such actions, and (c) any other relevant information that the EAS Participant may wish to provide, including state-specific demographics on languages other than English spoken within the state, and identification of resources used or necessary to originate current or proposed multilingual EAS alert content.

It’s ok if your station has not made any such attempts or taken any actions – this is just an information gathering process. The rule does not say how the information is to be provided to the SECCs, so you may wish to contact yours. Some state broadcaster associations have facilitated the gathering of this information by circulating emails and providing a repository for responses. Let us know if you require any assistance.

The second November EAS deadline to be aware of is November 13, 2017, which is the deadline to file the EAS Form 3 via the ETRS system. This form is the last in a series of forms stations were required to file in connection with the 2017 EAS National Test conducted in September.