If your station is an Emergency Alert System participant, the time to file “Form 1” is now.
Friday Aug. 26 is the deadline for participants, including most U.S. radio stations, to register with the new Federal Communications Commission’s ETRS database.
As more people have logged in to fill out Form 1, some of the initial snags that tripped up others are smoothing out.
That was the case for Rip Robbins, general manager of KSVR(FM), KSVU(FM) and KSJU(FM) in Washington state.
“I was able to complete Form 1, for all three of our licenses, in less than one hour,” he said. “That included getting our license information, which had our coordinates, and those were changed easily with ready online resources.”
Others said the process of logging in and entering data had improved significantly.
Broadcaster Cal Zethmyer, general sales manager of stations WAAZ(FM) and WJSB(AM) in Florida, had expressed frustration in July about database issues as well as the amount of time that the FCC had estimated the process should take (“Is it really going to take up to 43 hours to do this, and for two stations will that be up to 86 hours?” Zethmayr asked then).
He was rather surprised subsequently to receive a personal phone call from Austin Randazzo at the FCC this month. Randazzo is an FCC attorney and has been a point person during the registration process. “Why was the FCC calling me?” Zethmayr wondered. “I was out of town at the time and didn’t have my paperwork with me and at first I hesitated. Then he told me he want to help me with the entry for Form 1.”
Zethmayr says the process did not take 43 hours. “My fellow broadcaster and I wonder if that should be 0.43 of an hour,” he joked. Randazzo worked with Zethmayr on areas of the form that have been described as frustrating by some, such as entering transmitter coordinates and locating the right geographic zone of service.
Difficulties remain for some registrants.
Rip Robbins noted that during his registration the ETRS database would not accept a password containing a character. The solution was a lengthy back and forth of resetting passwords.
“Instead of ETRS fixing its log-in system, we had to change our password at CORES and then go back to ETRS to register,” he said. “So the idea that one hand doesn’t coordinate with the other at the FCC was very apparent.”
It was such comments that led the FCC to take some steps to support registrants. It posted a users’ manual, sought to answer emailed questions within 24 hours, conducted a series of webinars and did email outreach to EAS participants to remind them of the deadline.
So what happens if a station fails to make the Aug. 26 deadline? An FCC spokesperson told us an EAS participant should still register right away, even if tardily, and participate in the September nationa EAS test as required. “Our immediate focus is on facilitating successful EAS participant registration in the ETRS,” the spokesperson said.
Asked if broadcasters who miss the deadline could be subject to a fine, the spokesperson said that any rule violation potentially is subject to enforcement action but did not speculate on specific follow-up actions in this case. “Rather, we are concentrating on helping EAS participants successfully register in the ETRS.”