The FCC Looks to Expand EAS Station Reporting

At the last meeting, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) in which it proposes a number of additional reporting obligations on stations participating in the Emergency Alert System (EAS). Issuing an NPRM is the first step in adopting a new rule. The FCC is asking for public comment. Specifically, it proposes to:

  • Protect against cyberattacks by requiring Emergency Alert System participants, such as broadcasters and cable providers, to report incidents of unauthorized access to their Emergency Alert System equipment to the Commission within 72 hours. This would allow the Commission to work with participants and other government agencies to resolve an equipment compromise before it is exploited to send false alerts.
  • Promote security by requiring Emergency Alert System participants and the wireless providers that deliver Wireless Emergency Alerts to annually certify that they have a cybersecurity risk management plan and implement sufficient security measures for their alerting systems.
  • Guard against false alerts by requiring participating wireless providers to transmit sufficient authentication information to ensure that only valid alerts are displayed on consumer devices.

NYSBA and other state broadcast associations are looking at this proposal carefully. A fundamental concern is that EAS is essentially a voluntary system. Imposing burdensome reporting requirements would have the unintended consequence of driving stations away. We fully support a secure EAS system, but it must be done in such a way as to encourage stations to participate in this important system.

The FCC proposal for new EAS rules can be found here.