Will your favorite Netflix show be interrupted with screeching noises and then urgent news from the nation’s leaders sometime in the future? That’s a possibility Congress could soon hear about when the FCC reports on the feasibility of making streaming services adopt the Emergency Alert System.

In the 1960s, a predecessor system to the EAS was established to warn Americans to get into bomb shelters in the event of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. Later, all broadcast stations and cable and satellite operators were required to install and maintain the system. These days, the EAS has shown rust.

Notably, in January 2018, citizens of Hawaii woke up to the ominous alarm of a ballistic missile threat that proved to be a mistake. In the wake of this errant message, and as part of defense appropriations legislation, the FCC was directed to study improvements. “As climate change increases the frequency and seriousness of weather emergencies, maintaining an effective emergency alert system has never been more important,” says FCC commissioner Geoffrey Starks.

But what about streamers? How does one ensure that those bingeing Bridgerton get the message of, say, an incoming tornado?

In fighting the possibility of imposing emergency alert obligations for streaming services, both the tech and entertainment lobby (even the Motion Picture Association has filed a comment) make two big points. First, they argue, it’s not necessary given the prevalence of mobile phones, which receive wireless emergency alerts. Second, it would be very costly to pull off. And, in the engineering community, there’s some debate about the challenges of focusing emergency alerts given the large geographic footprint of streaming services.

But perhaps the bigger issue is whether the FCC is going to start taking a more active role in ordering Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and others around like broadcasters. A notice of proposed rule-making notes the agency hasn’t yet even defined “streaming services,” with an invitation for comment.

“While it is interesting that the FCC is looking into EAS on streaming, it is not a case where the FCC is looking to push its jurisdiction into regulating internet content,” cautions David Oxenford, an expert on communications law at Wilkinson Barker Knauer. He stresses that the FCC is merely studying the issue and won’t decide one way or the other but will just report its findings back to Congress. Still, there’s the possibility of new legislation that makes streamers get with the government’s priorities — especially as politicians talk a big game about regulating Big Tech.

This story first appeared in the July 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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