Avenue open to protest national EAS test


Broadcasters have expressed concern about EAS matters for years, but the concerns have been related to function and cost. We can’t think of any major industry outcry based on the belief that such a test is an example of government overreach. But a Forbes Magazine article suggests a rebellious radio owner might be able to protest the imminent national test.

The article also notes that there is no expressed sentiment among any broadcast groups in opposition to the test. Although the article suggests that such a protest would likely come from the Tea Party, government-is-the-problem type, it also says that even those companies running conservative talk in numerous markets are highly unlikely to engage in such a protest. They rely on the government for their broadcast licenses, and even if there exists deep philosophical disagreement with the test, a protest of less than a minute is not worth gambling the good will between the company and regulators that is necessary to keep the company in business.

The way to execute the protest, apparently legally, would be to shut the entire station down before the EAS test begins, and bring it back up shortly thereafter. The article suggests that a station operator cannot be expected to run the test when it is not on air.

Although the author states the opinion that any station deliberately ducking the test should in fact forfeit its license, he also states that he does not believe the government has the right to rescind the license on those grounds, at least not at the moment.

Although there is no evidence that any station intends to do this, it was mentioned that a small conservative station may indulge in the protest as a way to earn points with its very conservative audience.

RBR-TVBR observation: Even if we were a small station wishing to protest the EAS test, we wouldn’t take much pride in civil disobedience based not on defying an unjust law, regulation or policy, but instead by exploiting a loophole to get out of compliance without risk. Back in 18th Century Boston, they didn’t take British tea and give it unfavorable shelving – they threw it into the harbor.