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ARCO Radio Spot Trips EAS Units, SBE Says

Listen to the commercial

A radio commercial with a pretend EAS test is getting attention from broadcast engineers today.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers has alerted members to the situation. According to its website, “Members of the SBE EAS Committee and participants in SBE’s EAS Exchange have identified a radio commercial being aired for the oil company, ARCO, a subsidiary of BP, which uses simulated EAS header tones at the front of the message. The message contains the spoken phrase, ‘This is a test’ and then the simulated eight second tone.

“It has been reported that the header tones are played faster than 1100 baud but have tripped some EAS units monitoring stations that air the commercial,” SBE continued.

“Although the problem will only affect stations that both are being monitored and play this specific commercial … the SBE recommends stations check the affected commercial material. The existence of this audio may be considered an FCC violation. The decoded tones suggest that the message originates from the Hillsboro, Manatee and Pasco counties of Florida, which are part of the Tampa metropolitan area. The affect, however, is being heard nationwide.”

SBE told members that the commercial “has been running frequently and does not trip every time. One station reports that they have had five events. Their EAS units unlock and this commercial is heard every time.”

It notes that regulations prohibit false or deceptive EAS transmissions. “No person may transmit or cause to transmit the EAS codes or Attention Signal, or a recording or simulation thereof, in any circumstance other than in an actual National, State or Local Area emergency or authorized test of the EAS,” it summarized.

SBE posted a link where you can download an MP3 of the spot.