SiriusXM Seeks EAS Waiver

On June 5, SiriusXM Radio filed a petition with the FCC asking for a temporary waiver with regard to how the company complies with Emergency Alert System requirements on some of its programming channels.

In a story appearing in Inside Radio, the satellite radio operator’s petition says listeners would still be able to hear emergency alerts. The change would only impact whether the tones sent on several of its satellite channels would trigger other broadcasters’ EAS equipment.  The issue surrounds several channels on the XM service that use compression technology in order to squeeze as much content into the available spectrum as possible. However, this compression may prevent EAS codes and signals from activating receivers monitoring the satellite service.

SiriusXM seeks a 30-month waiver to any obligation that it must transmit EAS codes on those compressed channels so that it may develop, test and implement technical solutions that can address the issue.

The company notes that the service is part of the national EAS infrastructure as a Primary Entry Point (PEP) station, working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), providing an alternate transmission means for transporting FEMA-originated emergency alert messages to other PEP stations and state emergency operations centers.  As a result, the company says its participation as a PEP station means its listeners will continue to receive information regarding any national EAS activation on all channels, including those with the above-mentioned compression technology.

The company also says that while its committment to emergency alerting and the EAS system remains strong, the FCC’s EAS testing rules are unnecessarily broad and require revision as they apply to satellite radio.  “The requirement to carry weekly and monthly EAS tests on all SiriusXM channels has imposed an excessive, disproportionate and unnecessary burden on SiriusXM and its subscribers. Unlike other multichannel services such as cable television, the satellite radio service rarely has natural breaks in programming for inserting a test and never has uniform breaks that apply to all of our approximately 150 channels.  All of our music channels are also broadcast without commercials, which further minimizes the opportunities for the natural programming breaks that most broadcasters use to transmit EAS tests.”

“The result is that many of the weekly and monthly EAS tests interrupt what our customers are listening to, and do so in a way that can be intrusive.”

Read the complete filing here.