Reminder – Do not Use EAS Alert Tones in Programs or Advertising

Just a reminder to make sure your stations does not use EAS alert tones in any programs or advertising.   The FCC will fine you.  Recently, the FCC reached settlements with several broadcast and cable companies. Combined, the companies agreed to pay over $600,000 in civil penalties, and each committed to a strict compliance plan to ensure such actions do not recur.

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau is serious.  It has issued a new advisory.

Any transmission of the EAS codes or Attention Signals, or simulations thereof, by any person under any circumstances other than a genuine alert, an authorized test of the EAS system, or an authorized PSA, violates federal regulations and undermines the important public safety protections the EAS provides…

Thus, content such as advertisements, entertainment programming, promotional announcements, and other programming that includes the EAS codes or Attention Signals (or simulations thereof), is illegal if it is not employed in connection with an actual emergency, authorized EAS test, or as specified in sections 10.520(d), 11.46, and 11.61 of the FCC’s Rules.

PSAs for EAS are permitted under section 11.46 of the Rules.  However this exception is very narrow.

EAS Participants may use the EAS Attention Signal and a simulation of the EAS codes as provided by FEMA in EAS Public Service Announcements (PSAs) (including commercially-sponsored announcements, infomercials, or programs) provided by federal, state, and local government entities, or non-governmental organizations, to raise public awareness about emergency alerting.  This usage is only permitted if the PSA is presented in a non-misleading and technically harmless manner, including with the explicit statement that the Attention Signal and EAS code simulation are being used in the context of a PSA for the purpose of educating the viewing or listening public about emergency alerting.

In addition, EAS alerts can be part of a “live code test” covered by section 11.61 of the Rules.  EAS participants may undertake two live code exercises voluntarily per calendar year, so long as live code tests are conducted in accordance with specific parameters.  Consult your communications attorney before conducting such tests.

Bottom line – Do not sue EAS codes in any program content or commercial advertising. Violations can lead to significant fines.

To see the Enforcement Bureaus Advisory and settlements click HERE.


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