Tag Archives: Issue 116

Remember: ETRS Form One Due Monday for All EAS Participants

The FCC and FEMA have established September 20, 2018 as the date for the next nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The nationwide test is designed to study the effectiveness of the EAS and to monitor the performance of EAS participants. The Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system will be tested immediately prior to the test of the EAS. The FCC and FEMA have designated October 3, 2018 as the back-up date should circumstances prevent testing on September 20.

While the test itself is a month away, all EAS participants must file their Form One with the FCC by August 27, 2018 (this Monday) in preparation for the test. To make this filing, EAS participants must log in to the EAS Test Reporting System using an FCC Username Account. Those filers who do not already have an account can register for one in the FCC’s updated CORES system. Once a username account is set up, it will need to be associated with a licensee’s FCC Registration Number (FRN) before the user can draft or file forms for that licensee’s station(s). Many filers struggled to successfully register in past years, but those who participated in the annual test in 2017 should already be registered.

Form One requests information about a station’s transmitter location, EAS equipment and the stations it is assigned to monitor. For most EAS participants, this information will prefill from last year’s Form One (so be particularly careful reviewing it if your monitoring assignments, equipment or something else has changed since last year). Stations will also see an instruction to file a separate Form One for each encoder, decoder or combination unit. Most broadcasters will likely have a combination unit and therefore only need to file a single Form One. However, there may be situations where multiple filings are needed, for example where a cluster of co-owned radio stations share a studio but have to employ separate encoders and decoders to deal with stations in the group having different monitoring assignments.

As in the past, after the test is completed, participants must report the results of the test by filing Form Two, which requests abbreviated “day of test” data, and then Form Three, which collects more detailed data about the station’s performance.

Filing Deadlines:

  • Form One must be filed on or before August 27, 2018.
  • Form Two (“day of test” data) must be filed by 11:59 PM (EDT) on September 20, 2018.
  • Form Three must be filed on or before November 5, 2018.

Additional Requirements:

To prepare for the test, the FCC recommends that EAS participants review the EAS Operating Handbook and be sure that it is available at normal duty positions or EAS equipment locations, and is otherwise readily accessible to employees responsible for managing EAS actions.

Participants should also use this time to ensure their facilities are in a state of “operational readiness.” Operators should confirm that their EAS equipment has any necessary software and firmware upgrades and that it is capable of receiving the various test codes. If not automatic, operators must also manually set their EAS equipment to the “official time” as established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Each of these issues has been a significant cause of stations being unable to receive or transmit past tests.

Finally, the person filing for each station should verify that they have the right username, password and licensee FRN in advance of the filing deadline. Experience from the the past two national tests revealed that many stations were caught off guard not by the test itself, but by their inability to access the ETRS to make required filings, often because of confusion surrounding how to log in.

More Action Appears to be Coming on AM Revitalization

David Oxenford - Color
David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP

Looking at Revising Interference Protection for Class A Clear Channel Stations

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, in a speech last week at the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Summer Convention (the text of the speech is available here), announced that he has circulated to the other Commissioners for review and approval a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking looking to make changes to AM interference standards. Specifically, he said that the NPRM would look at Class A AM interference standards. I was in the audience for the Chairman’s remarks, and audience reaction was muted – perhaps because so few people regularly use the term “Class A AM” when referring to what many call the “clear channel” stations – those big 50 kW AM stations that can often be heard halfway across the country at night because of their “skywave” service bouncing off the atmosphere to be received hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles from where the signal originates.

What to do about Class A AM stations was an issue teed up by the FCC in the AM Revitalization proceeding initiated several years ago (see our post here summarizing the issued raised by the FCC back in 2013). While these clear channel stations are enjoyed by listeners far from their own city of license (often bringing sports broadcasts to distant fans, or programs like the Grand Ole Opry that have become national institutions), the huge service areas of these stations does come at a cost to local service – as many lower powered AM stations operating on the same channel as these Class A stations have to either drastically reduce their power or cease operations all together during nighttime hours. While some AM licensees have received FM translators to fill in those service gaps, those translators do not bring listeners back to the AM band itself. So, in the Revitalization proceeding, the FCC asked for ideas as to what it should do with these stations – e.g. if it should advance proposals to reduce protection to the clear channel stations in order to allow more local AMs to increase their nighttime power. It appears that the NPRM announced by the Chairman on Tuesday will crystalize the comments received in response to the 2013 Notice into more specific proposals for action.

In his comments in Michigan, the Chairman said “our rules should reflect the reality of the current noise floor and appropriately balance the interests of Americans who want to listen to smaller local stations in their communities with those who enjoy listening to Class A stations.” Exactly how the FCC proposes to achieve that balance may not be clear until we see the release of the new NPRM. This is a controversial issue, as many owners of clear channel AMs argue that these stations are what keep listeners tuned to the AM dial and allowing more interference could weaken their ability to provide the attractive programming that many of them do. Of course, owners of the weaker AM stations want to serve their communities during all hours, not just during daylight hours. This further NPRM will no doubt be carefully watched, and we will see the arguments raised on both sides in the coming months.

David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).

There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your MAB membership.

10 Things to Include in Your Radio Station’s Electronic Press Kit

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

If your radio station would like to get press coverage — and what station wouldn’t? — it’s a good idea to put together an electronic press kit (EPK). An EPK is a collection of digital resources that make it easy for journalists and others in the media to publish a story on a particular subject. We often associate EPKs with musical artists, but it’s a good idea for radio stations to create them as well.

Here’s what to include in your radio station’s electronic press kit:

    1. Logos: Include color and black and white logos, both high resolution (300 dots per inch) for print and low resolution (72 dots per inch) for the web.
    2. Station Description: Include a boilerplate paragraph about the radio station. This is probably the same paragraph that you include at the end of your station’s press releases. You may want to create different paragraphs for different audiences. For example, the local arts and entertainment paper may require a different description than the local business journal.
    3. Bios and Headshots of Key Staff Members: If a journalist wants to write about one of your airstaff members, make it easy for them. Include photos of your morning show personalities separately and together as a team. Remember to make both high and low resolution photos available.
    4. Descriptions of Key Shows: Include short descriptions of key shows, including the morning show and any specialty shows that you air.
    5. Descriptions and Photos of Signature Events: Include photos and short descriptions of signature events, such as annual concerts or fundraisers.
    6. Publicity Photos: Include a few general radio station photos, including promotional appearances, famous artist interviews and in-studio action shots.
    7. Fact Sheet: Compile a list of key facts about the radio station, including its ratings, revenue numbers and years in business.
    8. Important Links: Make it easy for journalists to link to appropriate webpages by including a list of important links, such as your station’s homepage, social media pages and webpages for key shows, on-air personalities and events.
    9. Highlight Video and Aircheck Reels: Many outlets like to take advantage of multimedia, so if you have a short video that shows off the radio station or audio files of DJ airchecks, make them available.
    10. Press Clippings and Testimonials: If people are saying good things about your radio station, let the world know. Include links to any press about the station, as well as testimonials from clients, artists, local community leaders and important figures in the music industry.

Once you’ve assembled all of the above onto a single webpage, include a link to this page in your website footer. It’s up to you whether you want to require a password to access the EPK. Be sure to include a link to your station’s EPK in all press releases that you send out, and periodically review it to see if it needs to be updated. By compiling all of these materials together, you’ll make it much easier for journalists to cover your radio station.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.