Today's Regulatory Mix: FCC Releases Report on 2019 Nationwide Emergency Alert Test, FTC Files Complaint Against Telemarketers
FCC Releases Report on 2019 Nationwide Emergency Alert Test
The FCC has released its 2019 Nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test Report. The report contains details about a nationwide test conducted on August 7, 2019, of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) using only the broadcast-based distribution system by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (Commission or FCC).
The purpose of the 2019 test was to evaluate the readiness of EAS Participants—such as radio and television stations, cable television systems, direct broadcast satellite (DBS), Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS), digital audio broadcasting systems, and wireline video systems—to receive and, in turn, retransmit the alert to other stations, in the absence of Internet connectivity. This was the fifth EAS nationwide test.
A final analysis of the test finds that a large majority of the EAS Participants successfully received the national periodic test code, or NPT, and, as required by our rules, retransmitted the NPT to other EAS Participants. The test thus demonstrated that the national EAS distribution architecture is largely effective as designed. As anticipated, the test also shed light on challenges that impeded the ability of some EAS Participants to receive and/or retransmit the NPT.
The overall results of the 2019 nationwide EAS test demonstrate the following:
- The broadcast-based distribution method is largely effective, with the capability to reach 82.5% of the EAS participants;
- Participation rates by EAS Participants in the nationwide test have increased since last year;
- Success of the broadcast-based distribution system is dependent upon the proper functioning of the initial stations in the daisy chain, which must be able to successfully receive and retransmit the alert to the stations below them; and
- Stations increase their chances of receiving and retransmitting the alert when they monitor multiple reliable monitoring sources. Multiple monitoring sources add redundancy to the system. When one source fails, the other helps to maximize the potential for successful receipt and retransmission of the alert.
FTC Files Complaint Against Telemarketers
The Federal Trade Commission sued the operators of a Pennsylvania-based telemarketing scheme, alleging that they charged organizations such as businesses, schools, fire and police departments, and non-profits for books and newsletter subscriptions they never ordered.
The FTC’s complaint also names the defendants behind a New York-based debt collection operation, alleging that they illegally threatened the organizations if they failed to pay for the unordered merchandise.
“These defendants bill businesses and other entities for books and newsletters that were never ordered, and then send them to collections when they don’t pay,” said Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith. “This case shows the FTC will go after deceptive telemarketers that target businesses as well as people.”
According to the FTC’s complaint, since at least 2014, American Future Systems, Inc. (AFS), operating under the names Progressive Business Publications and the Center for Education and Employment Law, has called organizations nationwide offering to send sample books or newsletters for the organizations to try. The newsletters and books focus on specific topics, such as human resources, environmental compliance, or employment law, and the AFS defendants typically charge several hundred dollars for an annual newsletter or newsletter with accompanying book subscription.
The FTC alleges that the AFS telemarketers often fail to disclose up-front that they are selling subscriptions, or deny they are selling anything at all. The FTC also alleges that, when they are able to get past the receptionist and reach a company employee, the telemarketers typically claim that they will send two issues of a newsletter at “no risk,” in the hopes that the company will like them and become a paid subscriber. According to the FTC’s complaint, in reality, by the end of the call, if an employee agrees to accept what many believe to be free newsletters, AFS enrolls their organization in a negative option program without their consent, under which they are automatically invoiced for annual subscriptions to the newsletters. The FTC alleges that organizations have complained that they were billed for subscriptions they never ordered, and in many cases, never received.
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.