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EAS Proposals Put Undue Burden on SECCs, Associations Warn

There’s no benefit in imposing one-size-fits-all type of regulations on EAS matters, according to state broadcast associations

America’s state broadcasting associations worry that some FCC proposals for the Emergency Alert System could “chill full participation” and also place unreasonable alerting burdens on State Emergency Communications Committees.

There’s no benefit in imposing one-size-fits-all type of regulations on EAS matters, according to a group filing by associations representing broadcasters in most of the states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Some issues are better left to the individual state level where approaches can be tailored to individual needs, they said in a comment filed by the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

While appreciative of the “very hard work and insightful treatment” the Federal Communications Commission has given to revamping the Emergency Alert System through its current notice of proposed rulemaking, the associations expressed concern about the proposed development of a template for state EAS plans as well as its security measures and reporting obligations.

“The commission’s security proposals are over-reaching and would chill full participation in the EAS network,” the associations wrote.

They also expressed concern about the proposed inclusion of certain information in state plans, including SECC governance structures and local-area EAS plans.

The state broadcast associations oppose a proposal that state EAS plans include platforms that are not part of the EAS network, such as social media. “The unreliability of social media as an alert platform, the large number of people who use social media infrequently or not at all, and the rapid developments in social media technology and applications make these sort of non-broadcast/cable platforms unsuitable for inclusion in state EAS plans,” they wrote. “The pace of those technological advances, and the evolution of social media generally, would make it extremely difficult to address the role of social media in EAS plans and to keep plans updated.”

The group backs several proposals, however, including the suggestion that EAS participants be able to conduct live code tests at their discretion without a waiver; that EAS audio tones be permitted in PSAs; and that WEA tones be permitted in bona fide news reports to educate the public about WEA.

The group reiterated that certain decisions should be left to state and local entities, “as those entities are in the best position to make determinations in which key factors which will differ from place to place,” including the languages in which PSAs and other EAS-related programs should be broadcast. Read the filing from the state associations (PDF).

The group was one of several that filed comments about the EAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking just prior to the comment deadline. Final reply comments on Proceeding 15-94 are due July 8.

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