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FCC amends EAS rules

The FCC has issued a First Report and Order to help ensure that consumers using digital broadcast and subscription television and radio services have access to emergency alert and warning information.

Noting the ever-increasing use of digital technologies by Americans, the First Report and Order expands the commission’s current EAS rules to include providers of digital broadcast and cable TV, digital audio broadcasting, satellite radio, and direct broadcast satellite services. With the exception of DBS service, all affected entities must comply with these new requirements by December 31, 2006. DBS services must comply no later than May 31, 2007.

The commission also seeks comment on:

  • how to develop a next-generation alert and warning system that takes full advantage of digital media’s potential;
  • the type of system architecture and common protocols that would be required in such a system;
  • specific technologies;
  • integration of wireless technologies;
  • whether traditional telephone companies that plan to provide high-definition digital content to customers’ homes through fiber optic connections should have public alert and warning responsibilities;
  • issues relating to the participation of state and local authorities in the EAS;
  • more effectively reaching individuals with hearing and vision disabilities;
  • how the EAS rules should be revised to more effectively reach non-English speaking individuals;

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