[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 88 (Monday, May 7, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 26701-26703]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-10622]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 11

[EB Docket No. 04-296; FCC 12-41]


Review of the Emergency Alert System

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission 
(Commission) amends its rules governing the Emergency Alert System 
(EAS) rules so that EAS Participants may, but are not required to, 
employ the text-to-speech (TTS) functions described in the EAS-CAP 
Industry Group (ECIG) Implementation Guide.

DATES: Effective May 7, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Fowlkes, Deputy Bureau Chief, 
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, at (202) 418-7452, or by 
email at Lisa.Fowlkes@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Order 
on Reconsideration in EB Docket No. 04-296, FCC 12-41, adopted and 
released on April 19, 2012. The full text of this document is available 
for inspection and copying during normal business hours in the FCC 
Reference Center (Room CY-A257), 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 
20554. The complete text of this document also may be purchased from 
the Commission's copy contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc., 445 
12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554. The full text may 
also be downloaded at: www.fcc.gov.

Introduction

    1. On January 10, 2012, the Commission released its Fifth Report 
and Order in the above-referenced docket, in which it adopted rules 
specifying the manner in which EAS Participants must be able to receive 
alert messages formatted in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), and 
streamlined its part 11 rules to enhance their effectiveness and 
clarity. In this Order on Reconsideration, the Commission reconsiders 
one aspect of the Fifth Report and Order: the applicability of TTS 
specifications set

[[Page 26702]]

forth in the ECIG Implementation Guide recommendations. As discussed 
below, the Commission is deferring action on, rather than prohibiting, 
the use of the ECIG Implementation Guide's TTS specifications. 
Accordingly, the Commission amends its EAS rules so that EAS 
Participants may, but are not required to, employ the TTS functions 
described in the ECIG Implementation Guide.

Background

    2. In the Fifth Report and Order, the Commission limited the scope 
of the new Part 11 EAS CAP-related obligations to those necessary to 
ensure that CAP-formatted alert messages distributed to EAS 
Participants will be converted into and processed in the same way as 
messages formatted in the current EAS Protocol. In that regard, the 
Commission required EAS Participants to be able to convert CAP-
formatted EAS messages into messages that comply with the EAS Protocol 
requirements, following the procedures for such conversion as set forth 
in the ECIG Implementation Guide.
    3. Notwithstanding that the Commission mandated compliance with 
most of the ECIG Implementation Guide, it declined at that time to 
impose such a mandatory approach with respect to the ECIG 
Implementation Guide's provisions regarding TTS. The Commission noted, 
for example, that the accuracy and reliability of TTS had not been 
established in the record. The Commission also recognized that a regime 
that addressed lack of audio by focusing on the EAS Participant end--
where the EAS Participants would effectuate the TTS conversion by using 
any of the available TTS software packages that may be configured into 
their EAS equipment--might be less desirable than an approach that 
required the message originator to make the conversion with TTS 
software on the originating end. Because of the need for multiple 
conversions using a variety of software, the former approach would be 
more prone to the generation of differing, and thus confusing, audio 
messages to be broadcast for the same EAS message. The latter approach 
would tend to avoid this risk by applying the conversion before the 
alert is widely distributed throughout the community of EAS 
Participants. The Commission further observed that it may consider the 
TTS issue in an upcoming proceeding. Accordingly, the Commission stated 
that it ``continue[s] to believe that discussion of text-to-speech and 
speech-to-text software is best reserved for a separate proceeding, and 
[that] we therefore defer these issues at this time.''

    In order to avoid imposing the Guide's mandatory approach toward 
TTS conversions--which would have required EAS Participants to 
effectuate such conversions using EAS Participant-provided 
technologies if their EAS devices could support them--the Commission 
revised Sec.  11.56 of its rules to preclude application of the 
Guide's mandatory requirement outright.

    4. The Commission also stated in the Fifth Report and Order that 
``we do not permit the construction of EAS audio from a CAP text 
message at this time,'' and noted that ``we will not allow EAS 
Participants to use text-to-speech software configured in their EAS 
equipment to generate the audio portion of an EAS message.''
    5. On March 12, 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency 
(FEMA) made a filing, titled a ``Petition for Reconsideration'' (FEMA 
Request), requesting reversal of the Commission's decision in the Fifth 
Report and Order ``to deviate from the [ECIG] Implementation Guide in 
the matter of text-to-speech conversion.'' In its request, FEMA stated 
that the Commission, by prohibiting use of the ECIG Implementation 
Guide TTS specifications ``discourages and * * * limits further 
development of text-to-speech technology in support of EAS.'' FEMA also 
noted that an ``unintended consequence of disallowing [TTS] conversion 
by CAP EAS devices is that CAP messages supplied without audio content 
* * * may cause a CAP-EAS device to interrupt the programming of EAS 
participants'' and only convey limited information. According to FEMA, 
the lack of TTS conversion capability could possibly disrupt 
dissemination of National Weather Service alerts, delay retrieval of 
referenced audio files in alerts, and impact the ability of 
jurisdictions with limited resources, or those with certain, already 
implemented CAP alerting capabilities, to issue CAP-formatted alerts. 
FEMA requested that the Commission delete the reference to ``using 
text-to-speech technology'' from the revised Sec.  11.56(a)(2). The 
recent Final Report of Working Group 9 of the Commission's third 
Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council 
(CSRIC) reiterated these same concerns. The Commission also received 
filings from state and local emergency management agencies and others 
requesting a similar change to this rule.

Discussion

    6. Upon review of the Fifth Report and Order, and based on the 
observations and arguments made in various filings since release of 
that decision, the Commission concludes that an absolute bar against 
using the specifications set out in the ECIG Implementation Guide could 
have unintended negative consequences, such as compromising the ability 
of EAS Participants to receive EAS messages from states and local 
governments that have implemented CAP-based alerting systems that rely 
on TTS technologies. Moreover, such a bar would depart from the 
Commission's original intention to maintain a more neutral stance on 
the best approach for establishing TTS requirements pending fuller 
consideration of the issues involved. And the Commission is convinced 
that the merits of mandating TTS use have yet to be fully developed in 
the record.
    7. Accordingly, pursuant to Sec.  1.108 of the its rules, on it own 
motion the Commission reconsiders and revises Sec.  11.56(a)(2) of its 
rules to replace the parenthetical phrase ``except that any and all 
specifications set forth therein related to using text-to-speech 
technology and gubernatorial `must carry' shall not be followed'' with 
the phrase ``except that any and all specifications set forth therein 
related to gubernatorial `must carry' shall not be followed, and that 
EAS Participants may adhere to the specifications related to text-to-
speech on a voluntary basis.'' The Commission also revises footnote 118 
of the Fifth Report and Order to delete the phrase ``While we do not 
permit the construction of EAS audio from a CAP text message at this 
time * * *'' and revises footnote 496 of the Fifth Report and Order to 
delete the phrase ``* * * we will not allow EAS Participants to use 
text-to-speech software configured in their EAS equipment to generate 
the audio portion of an EAS message * * *'' With these revisions, the 
Commission hereby defers consideration of the ECIG Implementation 
Guide's adoption of TTS software configured in EAS equipment to 
generate the audio portion of an EAS message, and thus neither requires 
nor prohibits EAS Participants from following the ECIG Implementation 
Guide's specifications on use of TTS.

I. Procedural Matters

A. Accessible Formats

    8. To request materials in accessible formats for people with 
disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), 
send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental 
Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

[[Page 26703]]

B. Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

    9. This document contains no modified information collection 
requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 
104-13.

C. Congressional Review Act

    10. The Commission will send a copy of this Order on 
Reconsideration in a report to be sent to Congress and the Government 
Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act 
(``CRA''), see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

D. Effective Date of Rule

    11. The Commission makes this rule revision effective immediately 
upon publication in the Federal Register, pursuant to Section 553(d) of 
the Administrative Procedure Act. In this case, where the Commission's 
action removes a restriction that would have applied to EAS 
Participants and retains the status quo, it finds that there is no need 
for the 30-day period. In addition, the Commission concludes that good 
cause exists to make the rule effective immediately upon Federal 
Register publication. In making the good cause determination, agencies 
must balance the necessity for immediate implementation against 
principles of fundamental fairness that require that all affected 
persons be afforded a reasonable time to prepare for the effective date 
of a new rule. No party will be prejudiced by an expedited effective 
date for this rule revision. This revision simply now provides them 
with the option to follow the ECIG Implementation Guide's TTS 
provisions should they choose to do so. However, the expedited date is 
necessary to provide the parties with regulatory certainty sufficiently 
in advance of the current June 30, 2012, deadline for complying with 
the relevant requirements of the Commission's Fifth Report and Order. 
There is also no information collection associated with this rule 
revision, so no OMB approval is required for the revised rule.

II. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    12. The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires that agencies 
prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis for notice-and-comment 
rulemaking proceedings, unless the agency certifies that ``the rule 
will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities.'' In this Order on Reconsideration, the Commission 
removes the prohibition on following the ECIG Implementation Guide's 
specifications related to using TTS technology, and clarifies that EAS 
Participants may, but are not required, to use these specifications. 
The Commission hereby certifies that this rule revision will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, 
because this action merely provides EAS Participants with the option to 
use these specifications. EAS Participants may continue to opt not to 
use these specifications and thereby maintain the status quo. The 
Commission will send a copy of this Order on Reconsideration, including 
this certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small 
Business Administration. In addition, the Commission will publish this 
Order on Reconsideration (or a summary thereof) and certification in 
the Federal Register.

III. Ordering Clauses

    13. Accordingly, it is ordered that, pursuant to Sec.  1.108 of the 
Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.108, this Order on Reconsideration is 
adopted;
    14. It is further ordered that part 11 of the Commission's Rules, 
47 CFR part 11, is amended as set forth in the Appendix. This Order 
shall become effective immediately upon publication in the Federal 
Register;
    15. It is further ordered that the Petition for Reconsideration 
filed of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on March 12, 2012, in 
EB Docket 04-296 is dismissed as moot;
    16. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a 
copy of this Order on Reconsideration, including the Final Regulatory 
Flexibility Certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the 
Small Business Administration.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 11

    Radio, Television.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission amends 47 CFR part 11 as follows:

PART 11--EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM (EAS)

0
1. The authority citation for part 11 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 151, 154 (i) and (o), 303(r), 544(g) and 
606.


0
2. Amend Sec.  11.56 by revising paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows:


Sec.  11.56  Obligation to process CAP-formatted EAS messages.

    (a) * * *
    (2) Converting EAS alert messages that have been formatted pursuant 
to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information 
Standards (OASIS) Common Alerting Protocol Version 1.2 (July 1, 2010), 
and Common Alerting Protocol, v. 1.2 USA Integrated Public Alert and 
Warning System Profile Version 1.0 (Oct. 13, 2009), into EAS alert 
messages that comply with the EAS Protocol, such that the Preamble and 
EAS Header Codes, audio Attention Signal, audio message, and Preamble 
and EAS End of Message (EOM) Codes of such messages are rendered 
equivalent to the EAS Protocol (set forth in Sec.  11.31), in 
accordance with the technical specifications governing such conversion 
process set forth in the EAS-CAP Industry Group's (ECIG) 
Recommendations for a CAP EAS Implementation Guide, Version 1.0 (May 
17, 2010) (except that any and all specifications set forth therein 
related to gubernatorial ``must carry'' shall not be followed, and that 
EAS Participants may adhere to the specifications related to text-to-
speech on a voluntary basis). * * *
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2012-10622 Filed 5-4-12; 8:45 am]
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