In what four out of five FCC commissioners seem to view as a no-brainer, the Emergency Alert System just got three more event codes and two slightly-revised geographic location codes. The odd man out? Commissioner O’Rielly. He doesn’t question the potential utility of the new/revised codes, but he does take issue with the cost/benefit analysis endorsed by his colleagues.
Attention, all you EAS participants. The FCC has formally opened up its new EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS), which means that you’ve got until Aug. 26 to get into the site and complete Form One.
If you participate in the Emergency Alert System, it’s time to get out your calendars and circle Wednesday, Sept. 28 — because we now know that that’s the day on which our friends at the Federal Emergency Management Agency are planning on conducting the second-ever nationwide test of the EAS.
BroadStream Solutions & Digital Alert Systems | Booths N6315 & N3422, respectively | Websites: http://broadstream.com & http://digitalalertsystems.com On Monday, automated playout specialist, BroadStream Solutions and Digital Alert Systems (DAS) announced a partnership to create a full integration of EAS-Net into its flagship OASYS integrated playout platform. The full integration with EAS-Net provides an IP-based communication link between […]
The FCC has rejected a proposal that would have mandated the availability of emergency announcements in Spanish (and, in some places, other languages as well). But, presumably not wishing to seem like they were totally turning their back on the not insubstantial non-English speaking populations of our great country, the commission did make a concession of sorts to the proponents.
Digital Alert Systems, a division of Monroe Electronics, will soon release a major software upgrade to the DASDEC platforms for advanced Emergency Alert System and Common Alerting Protocol messaging compliance. The new software, version 3.0, features dozens of functional and operational improvements, including Alert Agent, an enhanced and powerful way to selectively process alert messages […]
At 2:20 p.m. ET on Feb. 24, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be conducting its latest regional EAS header code test in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The commission says the proposed rules would promote community preparedness and ensure that the public receives the most effective alerts during emergencies.
More than six months ago the FCC adopted some tweaks of the Emergency Alert System. While most of the changes kicked in last July, two revised sections did not. That’s because those two involve information collections that had to be run past the Office of Management and Budget. But now, according to a notice in the Federal Register, OMB has signed off on the two sections, as a result of which both will be effective as of Dec. 31. Happy New Year!
A couple of weeks ago we reported on the revisions to the Emergency Alert System rules adopted in the wake of the 2011 nationwide EAS test. Those revisions have now been published in the Federal Register, so we know that they will take effect on July 30. All the new rules, that is, except two sections that involve information collections that will need a thumbs-up from OMB before they can kick in.
The FCC has slowly but surely been striving to improve the nation’s Emergency Alert System to improve safety warnings to the public. In its most recent effort to achieve this goal, the FCChas updated its rules to establish operational standards to be used during national EAS tests and emergencies. According to the FCC, the move is meant to “help facilitate the use of EAS in a way that maximizes its overall effectiveness as a public warning and alert system.”
At its Open Meeting scheduled for next Thursday, May 21, the FCC will consider extending emergency information accessibility rules to “second screen” devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones. Such a change could have far-reaching implications for both MVPDs and device manufacturers.
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau and broadcaster Univision have entered into a Consent Decree under which Univision will pay a $20,000 civil penalty for broadcasting five instances of a “simulated” EAS tone as part of a radio broadcast.
In line with many prior FCC enforcement decisions, the FCC found EAS tone violations appealed by NBCU and Viacom to be “willful” on the grounds that it did not matter whether the parties transmitting the ads knew they were violating a law, only that they intended to air the ads, which neither party disputed. The FCC summed up its position by noting that it “has consistently held that ignorance or mistake of law are not exculpating or mitigating factors when assessing a forfeiture.”
The FCC means business when it tells companies not to use the distinctive Emergency Alert System audio tones to grab audiences’ attention for entertainment — the way Viacom and ESPN did when they ran ads for FilmDistrict’s 2013 thriller Olympus Has Fallen. The regulatory agency today rejected the companies’ claims that they shouldn’t be held responsible, requiring Viacom to pay a $1.12 million fine and ESPN to cough up $280,000.
Today, the FCC’s latest EAS notice of proposed rulemaking was published in the Federal Register, which means that parties will have 30 days to file comments and an addition 15 days for reply comments. Comments are therefore due on Aug. 14, and reply comments are due on Aug. 29.
Following up on the request for comments released last September, the FCC has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on a number of possible changes to its Emergency Alert System rules in the wake of the first-ever national EAS test conducted nearly three years ago.
Just two months after assessing nearly $2 million in fines to cable operators for airing ads for the movie Olympus Has Fallen containing false EAS tones, the FCC on Thursday granted an 18-month extension of its 2013 waiver allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to continue to use false emergency tones in public service announcements.
Last month, comment deadlines had been set for the long-pending proposal to establish a “designated hitter” approach to assure that EAS announcements are broadcast in foreign languages when the audience includes a significant number of non-English speaking folks. If you’re thinking about filing comments in that proceeding, get your calendar and your eraser out. The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has just pushed the deadlines back a month.
The proposal would require that all primary EAS stations broadcast national alerts in both English and Spanish, and that state EAS plans should designate stations to provide emergency information in other languages where there are significant populations that have a primary language other than English or Spanish. Comments on this proposal are due on April 28, and replies by May 12.
The FCC on Thursday said it is reconsidering a rule that would provide Spanish broadcasts of emergency alerts and other important announcements. The rule was originally recommended in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
There was quite a stir Monday when the FCC, despite being closed for a snow day, proposed very large fines against Viacom, NBCUniversal and ESPN for transmitting false EAS alert tones. So what lesson should broadcasters and cable networks take away from this? The all too obvious one is to do whatever it takes to prevent false EAS tones from making it on air. However, an equally useful lesson is to make sure that your contracts with advertisers require the advertiser to warrant that the spots provided will comply with all laws and to indemnify the broadcaster or network if that turns out not to be the case.
The cable network penalties represent the largest yet proposed in ongoing investigations of misuse of the Emergency Alert System warning sounds.
On Tuesday, the FCC proposed a $200,000 fine against Turner Broadcasting System for distributing an ad containing EAS tones. According to the FCC, Turner’s Adult Swim Network aired ads produced by Sony Music Group that while they did not contain any digital data from an EAS tone, did simulate the EAS audio tone itself. The ad aired seven times over the network’s East Coast feed, and then was repeated seven more times in the West Coast feed three hours later.
While the FCC certainly takes EAS false alerts in ads seriously, it has seemed to recognize that the media entity airing the ad is usually as much a victim of the false alert signal as anyone, and as long as prompt action was taken to prevent a recurrence, has not been particularly punitive in its enforcement actions. That changed Tuesday, when the FCC issued an Enforcement Advisory warning against “False, Fraudulent or Unauthorized Use of the Emergency Alert System Attention Signal and Codes,” along with a $25,000 fine against Turner Broadcasting System and a $39,000 consent decree against a Kentucky TV station.
Twitter Alerts is an opt-in service that will push out alerts to mobile devices with information from credible organizations during emergencies and national disasters.
Following a national EAS test that was littered with flaws, the FCC is seeking comments on technical details of another nationwide test. Specifically, the commission wants to know if the hardware and software systems can be reprogrammed to accommodate new codes and at what cost.
Broadcasters and government officials say that the fact that TV stations did not air an alert during the recent Colorado wildfires exposes some flaws with the Emergency Alert System — a system that has recently come under scrutiny after a hacking incident and subpar national test results earlier this year.
The FCC prohibits the airing of Emergency Alert System codes and tones unless there is an actual emergency or EAS test. Last Thursday, however, life became more complicated for broadcasters when stations began receiving a PSA from the Federal Emergency Management Agency seeking to educate the public about the Emergency Alert System using the EAS tone to get that message across. Station operators were understandably confused and began to decline to run the spots. The FCC moved quickly (and quietly) to break from its prior approach, and on Friday released a decision granting an unprecedented one-year waiver of Section 11.45, permitting FEMA spots to use the EAS tone.
Late this past Friday, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau released a report summarizing the outcome of the first Nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test conducted on Nov. 9, 2011. The report concludes that the national EAS alert distribution architecture is sound and that the national test was received by a large majority of EAS participants and could be seen and heard by most Americans — more than 80% of EAS participants across the country successfully received and relayed the FEMA test message.
A new movie, Olympus Has Fallen, to be released on March 22, uses actual EAS tones in the movie trailer. According to the Society of Broadcast Engineers, “if the trailer is used in radio or TV advertisements, the station may be subject to FCC fine.”
I can’t help but wonder if EAS is now subject to the same Internet arms race that bedevils online security everywhere, with ever-evolving measures and countermeasures being deployed in an effort to stay one step ahead of those wishing to commandeer the alert system for their own benefit or amusement. If so, the questions becomes: which is worse, false alerts that panic the populace, or a populace that becomes so used to false alerts that they ignore a real one?
A goof-up by some La Crosse, Wis., disc jockeys caused WKBT viewers to hear a warning of a zombie attack. When WIZM-FM DJs played a tape of the hoax on KRTV Great Falls, Mont., the alert tones triggered WKBT’s receiver, which automatically rebroadcast the signal.
Hackers broke into the Emergency Alert Systems of KRTV Great Falls, Mont.; WKBP and WNMU Marquette, Mich., airing a warning that dead bodies were “attacking the living” and warned people not to “approach or apprehend these bodies as they are extremely dangerous.” Local and state authorities and the FCC are investigating to determine how the hackers got access.
The FCC wasted no time in advising broadcast stations and other EAS participants to take immediate steps to prevent unauthorized uses of the Emergency Alert System like the fake zombie attack alerts that went out over a few stations in Michigan and Montana yesterday. While federal and state authorities are investigating the source of those hoax alerts, which appear to have come from outside the U.S., the FCC has just released instructions for EAS Participants in hopes of heading off any more false alerts.
Hackers broke into the Emergency Alert Systems of KRTV Great Falls, Mont. (see video below); WBKP and WNMU Marquette, Mich., airing a warning that dead bodies were “attacking the living” and warned people not to “approach or apprehend these bodies as they are extremely dangerous.” Local and state authorities and the FCC are investigating to determine how the hackers got access.