A Florida radio station was fined $8,000 this month after the FCC determined it had failed to comply with EAS requirements. In July 2011, in response to a complaint alleging that the station was not complying with EAS obligations, agents from the FCC’s field office visited the station’s main studio and transmitter site. The agents found that the EAS Encoder and Decoder had been disconnected from the station’s transmitter since December 2010, that there were no logs or records of EAS tests being sent after September 15, 2010, and that there were no logs or records of any EAS test ever having been received by the Station. The station manager informed the agents that the EAS Decoder did not work.
In the Notice of Apparent Liability, the FCC explained that every broadcast station is a “participating national EAS source unless the station affirmatively requests” not to be, and that request is approved by the FCC. The FCC stressed that a functional EAS system is critical to public safety because the EAS system enables the President, and state and local governments, to provide immediate information to the public in emergency situations. Broadcasters, according to the NAL, play a “vital role” in ensuring the success of the EAS system.
The FCC’s EAS requirements are found in Part 11 of its Rules. Pursuant to Section 11.35, a broadcaster must ensure that its EAS Encoders, EAS Decoders, Attention Signal generating and receiving equipment, and Intermediate Devices used to encode or decode EAS signals are installed and operational so that the monitoring and transmitting functions are available while the station is in operation. EAS Participants must also determine the cause of any failure to receive the tests required under Part 11. A record of such failures must be made in the broadcast station log and retained for two years, during which time it must be available for inspection upon request, in compliance with Sections 73.1820 and 73.1840 of the Rules.
Although not noted in the NAL, if an EAS Encoder, EAS Decoder or Intermediary device becomes defective, a broadcast station may only operate for 60 days without seeking FCC authority for additional time to make repairs. The dates and times of any equipment removal or restoration must be kept in the station log, and the monthly test script must still be transmitted notwithstanding equipment deficiencies.
In the NAL, the FCC found the station liable for the amount of the base forfeiture for EAS equipment not installed or operational—$8,000. The FCC also ordered the licensee to submit a sworn statement within 30 days of the NAL stating that the station’s EAS equipment is installed and operational or stating the timeframe for when the equipment will be installed and operational