Real-Time Reporting From EAS Participants Not One of Them
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted Hearn
PITTSBURGH, September 14, 2018 – The American Cable Association supports the Federal Communications Commission taking steps to improve its awareness of false emergency alerts, but it cautions the agency not to impose unnecessary reporting burdens on Emergency Alert System (EAS) Participants that do nothing more than pass through an alert sometimes later determined to be false.
“ACA applauds the FCC’s efforts to improve the reliability and operational readiness of EAS, including to reduce the threat of false alerts,” said ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka. “ACA shares the FCC’s concern that false alerts weaken confidence in EAS, undermining its value as an authoritative public warning system. Accordingly, ACA supports the agency’s efforts to acquire timely information about false alerts from those sources in the best position to give it.”
In July, the FCC adopted the requirement that an EAS Participant notify the FCC within 24 hours of discovering it has transmitted a false alert. The agency sought comment on further reporting, including whether to require EAS Participants to report false alerts “within five minutes of discovery.”
In comments filed with the agency, ACA told the FCC to look to state and local authorities for notice of alerts originating in their jurisdictions. ACA also urged the FCC to create an online portal for members of the public to share information about false alerts with the agency voluntarily. Further, ACA suggested that EAS Participants involved in originating a false alert should be required to report much sooner than within 24 hours of discovery.
ACA advised the FCC not to adopt the proposed five-minute deadline to report false alerts. For EAS Participants that only pass through false alerts that originate elsewhere, ACA suggested that the FCC expressly encourage reporting of false alerts sooner if possible, while keeping the existing 24-hour deadline in place as a backstop. Because EAS Participants’ role is to transmit alerts without verifying their accuracy, and determining whether an alert is false often requires investigation, EAS Participants are not the best source of “real-time” information about false alerts.
Even with a five-minute reporting timeline in place, the FCC will likely have learned of a false alert through social media, from traditional news outlets, or directly from the alert originator by the time an EAS Participant reports it. Meanwhile, false alert reports filed within 24 hours under the current rule can inform the agency’s analysis of false alerts after the fact.
Should the FCC decide to impose heightened false alert reporting obligations on EAS Participants, ACA encouraged it to implement the reporting in a manner that minimizes burdens and encourages robust compliance. In particular, the agency should reconsider the unrealistic five-minute reporting timeline, continue to allow reporting by email, and forbear from aggressive enforcement of the rules against operators that have not demonstrated a pattern of non-compliance.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing about 800 smaller and medium-sized, independent companies that provide broadband, phone and video services to nearly 8 million customers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit: https://acaconnects.org/