All Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) Participants must complete EAS Test Reporting System (“ETRS”) Form One on or before August 26, 2016. This would include all cable television systems, TV stations, radio stations and low power TV stations. Failure to comply with the Commission’s ETRS requirements may open EAS Participants to FCC enforcement actions. Therefore, it is essential that all EAS Participants understand their obligations with the rollout of the FCC’s new ETRS system.
With a multitude of major emergency events occurring over the past several years, the EAS has never been more crucial than it is today. As the nation moves from the use of legacy networks to next-generation technologies, the FCC has been intent on ensuring the improved operation and exercise of the EAS.
To test the aptitude of the nation’s EAS equipment, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”), in conjunction with the FCC, conducted the first nationwide EAS test on November 9, 2011. The test revealed several issues, and subsequently, in April 2013, the FCC released the EAS Nationwide Test Report. The Report outlined major problems with the nationwide EAS test, and the FCC responded by issuing multiple notices of proposed rulemaking and orders over the past couple of years. These actions led to the establishment and implementation of the ETRS.
In connection with a nationwide EAS test scheduled for September 28, 2016, the FCC established and implemented the ETRS, which is intended to minimize the reporting burdens on EAS Participants and increase the reliability of the EAS. The FCC has insured EAS Participants that by utilizing ETRS they will (1) have the capability to review filings prior to final submission and to retrieve previous filings to correct errors; (2) not be required to input data into the ETRS that EAS Participants have previously provided to the Commission elsewhere; and (3) receive a filing receipt upon successful completion of the required report.
On April 18, 2016, the FCC issued a Public Notice outlining the details of ETRS, and providing a detailed walkthrough utilizing of Forms One, Two and Three utilizing screengrabs. On June 27, 2016, the FCC issued a second Public Notice, declaring the ETRS operational and ready to accept filings from EAS Participants. The June 27 Public Notice establishes an August 26, 2016 filing requirement for Form One of ETRS, and states that Forms Two and Three will become available at the time of initiation of the nationwide EAS test.
Now that the ETRS is operational, all EAS Participants must access the ETRS system, register, and obtain account credentials necessary to complete Form One on or before August 26. The ETRS registration page will require the EAS Participant to submit identifying information including: the legal name of the EAS Participant, address, phone number(s), FRN, and FRN password. Once completed and submitted, the EAS Participant should receive an email containing log-in information. Utilizing this log-in information, the EAS Participant should be able to access Form One.
The April 18 Public Notice details the specific submissions Form One will require of EAS Participants. Specifically, Form One will require EAS Participants to supply identifying and background information. Should any changes in identifying or background information occur, EAS Participants must concurrently update their Form One filings with these changes. Form One also will require that EAS Participants identify as one of 7 EAS Participant types and to identify their facilities that correspond to the EAS Participant type selected. Additionally, Form One will require EAS Participants to provide geographic details regarding the location of their transmitters and facilities. EAS Participants must also indicate EAS designations and monitoring assignments. The last substantive field in Form One will require details regarding equipment and software chosen from a dropdown menu. While filling out this section of Form One, EAS Participants are encouraged to review the capabilities of their EAS equipment to insure compliance with the FCC’s recently adopted EAS rules.
We strongly advise EAS Participants to complete Form One as soon as possible to insure any issues are resolved prior to the August 26 mandatory filing date.
As we approach the nationwide EAS test on September 28, 2016, we will continue to monitor further FCC action and keep EAS Participants apprised of any additional filing requirements.