Misuse of Emergency Alert System in Advertising

October 24, 2014

By Bill Duggan

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that requires TV and radio broadcasters, cable television systems, satellite service providers, and more to offer to the President the communications capability to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information such as AMBER (missing children) alerts and emergency weather information targeted to a specific area.  More at http://www.fcc.gov/guides/emergency-alert-system-eas.

A recent letter from the Federal Communication Commission to advertising industry trade associations says: “Although the existing prohibition has been in effect for several decades, we have recently received an increasing number of complaints concerning the misuse of actual or simulated EAS tones. Such misuse poses a serious threat to the integrity and utility of the entire Emergency Alert System, and thus endangers public safety.” This letter went to the ANA as well as the 4A’s so your agency partners (assuming they are 4A’s agencies) should be aware.

The law is clear: If advertisements, promotional announcements, or other programming includes the EAS codes or Attention Signal (or simulations thereof) not in connection with an actual emergency or authorized EAS test, they are illegal.

Attached is the FCC Enforcement Advisory on the Emergency Alert System with more information.


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