FCC Recommends Designating 988 as the Dialing Code for the Suicide Prevention Hotline
The FCC announced that its Staff sent a Report Congress which recommends that the FCC consider designating 988 as the 3-digit dialing code to be used for a nationwide suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. The report, mandated by the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018, finds that such a 3-digit number “would likely make it easier for Americans in crisis to access potentially life-saving resources.” Suicide prevention assistance is available today through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which has a 10-digit number, 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). The 2018 legislation directed the FCC, in consultation with the various other agencies and the North American Numbering Council, to study the feasibility of using a simple, easy-to-remember 3-digit number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system.
“There is a suicide epidemic in this country, and it is disproportionately affecting at-risk populations, including our Veterans and LGBTQ youth,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Crisis call centers have been shown to save lives. This report recommends using a three-digit number to make it easier to access the critical suicide prevention and mental health services these call centers provide. I intend to move forward on this recommendation. In the meantime, my heart goes out to anyone facing a crisis. I hope they will contact 1-800-273-TALK for support today.”
Chairman Pai is committed to launching a rulemaking proceeding in which the FCC would consider designating a 3-digit number—specifically, 988—for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. The report examines the feasibility of using various 3-digit numbers and finds that 988 could be implemented more easily and quickly than repurposing an existing 3-digit N11 code like 511 or 611. The rulemaking would collect further public comment from all interested stakeholders on the findings in the report.
The Regulatory Mix Today: FCC Recommends Designating 988 as the Dialing Code for the Suicide Prevention Hotline, FCC Fines Companies for Misuse of Emergency Alert Tones
FCC Fines Companies for Misuse of Emergency Alert Tones
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau announced settlements reached with a TV broadcaster, cable TV networks, and a radio broadcaster for misusing Emergency Alert System (EAS) or Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) tones. Episodes of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” and Discovery’s “Lone Star Law,” as well as promos aired by Meruelo Radio Holdings, LLC’s Los Angeles-area KDAY and KDEY-FM’s morning radio show, all aired actual or simulated alert tones in violation of FCC rules. Combined, the companies agreed to pay over $600,000 in civil penalties, and each committed to a strict compliance plan to ensure such actions do not recur. The Enforcement Bureau has also released an Enforcement Advisory to reiterate existing law as it applies to the misuse of EAS tones. The Advisory reminds the industry that Federal regulations prohibit the use of EAS codes (which are audible tones) or the EAS and WEA Attention Signals, or simulations of them, except in actual emergencies, authorized tests of the EAS, or authorized Public Service Announcements. It states: “We remain concerned about the misuse of the EAS codes and EAS and WEA Attention Signals, or simulations thereof, to capture audience attention during advertisements; dramatic, entertainment, and educational programs, and at any other time that there is no genuine alert, authorized test, or authorized PSA about the EAS or WEA that is accompanied by an appropriate disclaimer. The FCC may issue sanctions for such violations, including, but not limited to, monetary forfeitures.”
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.