As detailed in the Public Notice released by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, all Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) Participants, including cable operators, must report detailed information about their performance in the national EAS test held on September 27, 2017 by filing their EAS Test Reporting System (“ETRS”) Form Three by November 13, 2017.
EAS Participants in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as in portions of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas affected by the recent spate of hurricanes are permitted to file Form Two at the same time as Form Three, but must describe their particular circumstances in Form Three.
Background. On September 27, 2017, in conjunction with FEMA, the FCC conducted a National Test of the EAS system. EAS Participants are required to report the results on the National Test to the FCC through three forms:
- Form 1 –collects identifying information, including system information and EAS point-of-contact information and was due prior to the test.
- Form 2 – collects “day of test” data, including whether the EAS National Test alert code was received and rebroadcast, and was required to be filed on September 27, 2017.
- Form 3 – collects detailed “post-test” data, including information regarding receipt and rebroadcasting of the alert code, and is due November 13, 2017.
ETRS Requirements. Under the FCC’s EAS rules, EAS Participants must file detailed post-test data on ETRS Form Three within 45 days following a nationwide EAS test. Accordingly, EAS Participants must submit Form Three by November 13, 2017.
If you have questions about EAS or about completing the ETRS forms, please contact Scott Friedman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 372-3930.
FCC Circulates Draft ATSC 3.0 Order
On October 26, 2017, the FCC released a draft Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would authorize broadcast stations to use the “Next Generation” broadcast television transmission standard, also called “ATSC 3.0” on a voluntary, market-driven basis. The FCC is scheduled to vote on the proposed Order and FNPRM at its November 16, 2017 open meeting.
Background. The Advanced Television Systems Committee (“ATSC”) standards are a set of standards for digital television transmission, and is largely a replacement for the analog NTSC standard. Today, television stations use the “ATSC 1.0” standard to transmit their broadcast signals. Broadcasters claim that the “Next Generation” ATSC 3.0 standard, on the other hand, is an Internet Protocol-based broadcast transmission platform that will allow them to provide even more services to the viewer, including interactive and mobile wireless and geo-targeted emergency alerting, and allow them to use their spectrum more efficiently.
Under the FCC’s draft Order, ATSC 3.0 would be authorized as an “optional” transmission standard. Broadcast stations would be able to move to ATSC 3.0 so long as they filed an application and received prior approval from the FCC. Importantly, ATSC 3.0 is not backward compatible with existing equipment, and the FCC’s draft Order outlines several steps with the goal of minimizing consumer disruption.
Draft Order. Under the FCC’s draft Order and FNPRM, broadcast stations would be permitted to use ATSC 3.0 on a voluntary, market-drive basis. In doing so, the Order would require broadcasters to:
- Maintain an ATSC 1.0 simulcast. Broadcast stations that use ATSC 3.0 would be required to partner with another local station to simulcast their programming in ATSC 1.0 so that viewers will continue to receive their existing broadcast service. This simulcast obligation would not apply to LPTV or translator stations.
- Substantially simulcast for five years. For five years, the programming aired on the ATSC 1.0 simulcast channel would need to be “substantially similar” to the programming aired on the ATSC 3.0 channel. In other words, the programming must be the same, except for programming features based on the enhanced capabilities of ATSC 3.0 as well as advertisements and promotions for upcoming programming. Note, however, that this “substantially similar” required would only apply to the broadcaster’s primary programming stream and not its digital multicasts.
In addition, the draft Order would also:
- Retain must-carry rights only on ATSC 1.0 signals. Broadcasters would only be afforded mandatory carriage rights for simulcasted ATSC 1.0 signals. Signals broadcast in ATSC 3.0 would not have mandatory carriage rights.
- Decline to impose retransmission consent negotiation requirements. Broadcasters would not be required to separate ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0 signals in retransmission consent negotiations. Put another way, there would be no express prohibition on broadcasters tying carriage of an ATSC 3.0 signal to consent to carry an ATSC 1.0 signal.
If you have questions about ATSC 1.0, ATSC 3.0 or retransmission consent negotiations in general, please contact Scott Friedman at email@example.com or (312) 372-3930 or Bruce Beard at (314) 394-1535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.