[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 229 (Wednesday, November 28, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 70970-70987]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-28716]



[[Page 70970]]

=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 79

[MB Docket No. 12-107; FCC 12-142]


Accessible Emergency Information, and Apparatus Requirements for 
Emergency Information and Video Description: Implementation of the 
Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In this document, the Commission proposes rules to implement 
provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video 
Accessibility Act of 2010 (``CVAA'') that mandate regulations to ensure 
that emergency information is accessible to individuals who are blind 
and visually disabled and that television apparatus are able to make 
available video description and accessible emergency information. The 
Commission seeks comment on rules that would apply to the distributors, 
providers, and owners of television video programming, as well as the 
manufacturers of devices that display such programming.

DATES: Comments are due on or before December 18, 2012; reply comments 
are due on or before December 28, 2012. Written comments on the 
Paperwork Reduction Act proposed information collection requirements 
must be submitted by the public, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), 
and other interested parties on or before January 28, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by MB Docket No. 12-107, 
by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's Web Site: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Mail: Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, 
by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: (202) 418-
0530 or TTY: (202) 418-0432.
    In addition to filing comments with the Secretary, a copy of any 
comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act proposed information collection 
requirements contained herein should be submitted to the Federal 
Communications Commission via email to PRA@fcc.gov and to Nicholas A. 
Fraser, Office of Management and Budget, via email to Nicholas_A._Fraser@omb.eop.gov or via fax at (202) 395-5167. For detailed 
instructions for submitting comments and additional information on the 
rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this 
document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For additional information on this 
proceeding, contact Diana Sokolow, Diana.Sokolow@fcc.gov, or Maria 
Mullarkey, Maria.Mullarkey@fcc.gov, of the Policy Division, Media 
Bureau, (202) 418-2120. For additional information concerning the 
Paperwork Reduction Act information collection requirements contained 
in this document, send an email to PRA@fcc.gov or contact Cathy 
Williams at (202) 418-2918.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Notice 
of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 12-142, adopted on November 16, 2012, and 
released on November 19, 2012. The full text is available for public 
inspection and copying during regular business hours in the FCC 
Reference Center, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street 
SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. This document will also be 
available via ECFS at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/. Documents will be 
available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe 
Acrobat. The complete text may be purchased from the Commission's copy 
contractor, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554. 
Alternative formats are available for people with disabilities 
(Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), by sending an 
email to fcc504@fcc.gov or calling the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 
(TTY).
    This document contains proposed information collection 
requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to 
reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the information collection 
requirements contained in this document, as required by the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. Public and agency comments 
are due January 28, 2013.
    Comments should address: (a) Whether the proposed collection of 
information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of 
the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical 
utility; (b) the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimates; (c) 
ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information 
collected; (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information on the respondents, including the use of automated 
collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and (e) 
ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small 
business concerns with fewer than 25 employees. In addition, pursuant 
to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, 
see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), we seek specific comment on how we might 
further reduce the information collection burden for small business 
concerns with fewer than 25 employees.
    To view or obtain a copy of this information collection request 
(ICR) submitted to OMB: (1) Go to this OMB/GSA Web page: http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain, (2) look for the section of the Web 
page called ``Currently Under Review,'' (3) click on the downward-
pointing arrow in the ``Select Agency'' box below the ``Currently Under 
Review'' heading, (4) select ``Federal Communications Commission'' from 
the list of agencies presented in the ``Select Agency'' box, (5) click 
the ``Submit'' button to the right of the ``Select Agency'' box, and 
(6) when the list of FCC ICRs currently under review appears, look for 
the OMB control number of this ICR as show in the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section below (or its title if there is no OMB control 
number) and then click on the ICR Reference Number. A copy of the FCC 
submission to OMB will be displayed.
    OMB Control Number: 3060-0967.
    Title: Section 79.2, Accessibility of Programming Providing 
Emergency Information; Complaints Alleging Violations of the Apparatus 
Emergency Information and Video Description Requirements.
    Form No.: Not applicable.
    Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved collection.
    Respondents: Individuals or households; businesses or other for-
profit entities; not-for-profit institutions; State, local, or tribal 
governments.
    Number of Respondents and Responses: 80 respondents; 80 responses.

[[Page 70971]]

    Estimated Time per Response: 1-3 hours.
    Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting requirement; Third 
party disclosure requirement.
    Obligation to Respond: Voluntary. The statutory authority for this 
collection of information is contained in the Twenty-First Century 
Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Pub. L. 111-260, 
124 Stat. 2751, and 47 U.S.C. 151, 152(a), 154(i), 154(j), 303, 307, 
309, 310, 330(b) and 613.
    Total Annual Burden: 93 hours.
    Total Annual Costs: $12,600.
    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: Yes. The Privacy Impact Assessment 
(PIA) was completed on June 28, 2007. It may be reviewed at: http://www.fcc.gov/omd/privacyact/Privacy_Impact_Assessment.html. The 
Commission is in the process of updating the PIA to incorporate various 
revisions made to the SORN.
    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: Confidentiality is an issue 
to the extent that individuals and households provide personally 
identifiable information, which is covered under the FCC's system of 
records notice (SORN), FCC/CGB-1, ``Informal Complaints and 
Inquiries.'' As required by the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a, the 
Commission also published a SORN, FCC/CGB-1 ``Informal Complaints and 
Inquiries,'' in the Federal Register on December 15, 2009 (74 FR 66356) 
which became effective on January 25, 2010.
    Needs and Uses: The Commission is seeking approval for this 
proposed information collection from the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB). On November 19, 2012, the Commission released a Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking, MB Docket No. 12-107; FCC 12-142. This rulemaking 
proposed information collection requirements that support the 
Commission's accessible emergency information and apparatus rules that 
would be codified at 47 CFR 79.2, 79.105, and 79.106, as required by 
the CVAA.
    The proposed information collection requirements consist of:
    Complaints alleging violations of the emergency information rules.
    Pursuant to existing rule 47 CFR 79.2, consumers may file 
complaints alleging violations of the accessible emergency information 
requirements. As a result of the proposed revisions to the existing 
rule, we have estimated in increase in the number of complaints filed 
annually pursuant to this rule.
    Complaints alleging violations of the apparatus emergency 
information and video description requirements.
    Pursuant to proposals contained in the NPRM, consumers could file 
complaints alleging violations of the proposed rules containing 
apparatus emergency information and video description requirements, 47 
CFR 79.105-79.106. A complaint alleging a violation of the apparatus 
rules related to emergency information and video description may be 
transmitted to the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau by any 
reasonable means, such as the Commission's online informal complaint 
filing system, letter in writing or Braille, facsimile transmission, 
telephone (voice/TRS/TTY), email, or some other method that would best 
accommodate the complainant's disability. Given that the population 
intended to benefit from the rules adopted would be blind or visually 
impaired, if a complainant calls the Commission for assistance in 
preparing a complaint, Commission staff would document the complaint in 
writing for the consumer and such communication would be deemed a 
written complaint. The NPRM proposes that such complaints should 
include certain information about the complainant and the alleged 
violation. The Commission will forward such complaints, as appropriate, 
to the named manufacturer or provider for its response, as well as to 
any other entity that Commission staff determines may be involved, and 
may request additional information from any relevant parties when, in 
the estimation of Commission staff, such information is needed to 
investigate the complaint or adjudicate potential violations of 
Commission rules. The Commission is seeking OMB approval for the 
proposed information collection requirements.

Summary of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

I. Introduction

    1. The Federal Communications Commission (``Commission'') initiates 
this proceeding to implement the provisions of the Twenty-First Century 
Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (``CVAA'') requiring 
that emergency information be made accessible to individuals who are 
blind or visually impaired and that certain equipment be capable of 
delivering video description and emergency information to those 
individuals. First, pursuant to section 202 of the CVAA, this Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking (``NPRM'') proposes to make televised emergency 
information \1\ more accessible to individuals who are blind or 
visually impaired by requiring the use of a secondary audio stream to 
provide emergency information aurally that is conveyed visually during 
programming other than newscasts. Second, we seek comment under section 
203 of the CVAA on how to ensure that television apparatus are able to 
make available video description,\2\ as well as to make emergency 
information accessible to individuals who are blind or visually 
impaired. Our section 203 discussion focuses on the availability of 
secondary audio streams, because that is both the mechanism for 
providing video description and our proposed mechanism for making 
emergency information accessible.\3\ Our goal in this proceeding is to 
enable individuals who are blind or visually impaired to access 
emergency information and video description services more easily. The 
proposed revisions to our rules will help fulfill the purpose of the 
CVAA to ``update the communications laws to help ensure that 
individuals with disabilities are able to fully utilize communications 
services and equipment and better access video programming.'' H.R. Rep. 
No. 111-563, 111th Cong., 2d Sess. at 19 (2010) (``House Committee 
Report''); S. Rep. No. 111-386, 111th Cong., 2d Sess. at 1 (2010) 
(``Senate Committee Report'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ ``Emergency information'' is defined in the Commission's 
rules as ``[i]nformation, about a current emergency, that is 
intended to further the protection of life, health, safety, and 
property, i.e., critical details regarding the emergency and how to 
respond to the emergency.'' 47 CFR 79.2(a)(2). Emergency information 
might pertain to emergencies such as ``tornadoes, hurricanes, 
floods, tidal waves, earthquakes, icing conditions, heavy snows, 
widespread fires, discharge of toxic gases, widespread power 
failures, industrial explosions, civil disorders, school closings 
and changes in school bus schedules resulting from such conditions, 
and warnings and watches of impending changes in weather.'' Id. 
``Critical details include, but are not limited to, specific details 
regarding the areas that will be affected by the emergency, 
evacuation orders, detailed descriptions of areas to be evacuated, 
specific evacuation routes, approved shelters or the way to take 
shelter in one's home, instructions on how to secure personal 
property, road closures, and how to obtain relief assistance.'' Note 
to 47 CFR 79.2(a)(2).
    \2\ ``Video description'' is defined as ``[t]he insertion of 
audio narrated descriptions of a television program's key visual 
elements into natural pauses between the program's dialogue.'' 47 
CFR 79.3(a)(3).
    \3\ A separate proceeding will address sections 204 and 205 of 
the CVAA, which pertain to user interfaces and video programming 
guides and menus. Public Notice, Media Bureau and Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau Seek Comment on Second VPAAC Report: 
User Interfaces, and Video Programming Guides and Menus, 27 FCC Rcd 
4191 (2012).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

II. Background

    2. Section 202 of the CVAA requires the Commission to complete a 
proceeding to ``identify methods to

[[Page 70972]]

convey emergency information (as that term is defined in Sec.  79.2 of 
title 47, Code of Federal Regulations) in a manner accessible to 
individuals who are blind or visually impaired.'' \4\ 47 U.S.C. 
613(g)(1). The Commission must also ``promulgate regulations that 
require video programming providers and video programming distributors 
(as those terms are defined in Sec.  79.1 of title 47, Code of Federal 
Regulations) and program owners to convey such emergency information in 
a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually 
impaired.'' 47 U.S.C. 613(g)(2). In addition, section 203 of the CVAA 
directs the Commission to prescribe regulations requiring apparatus to 
have the capability to decode and make available emergency information 
in a manner that is accessible to individuals who are blind or visually 
impaired, and to decode and make available video description services. 
47 U.S.C. 303(u)(1). The CVAA requires that the Commission complete its 
proceeding on access to emergency information by April 9, 2013, and on 
apparatus requirements for video description and emergency information 
by October 9, 2013.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Accessibility of this emergency information is a separate 
matter from accessibility of an activation of the Emergency Alert 
System (``EAS''), which facilitates emergency communications from 
the President, the heads of State and local government, their 
designated representatives, or the National Weather Service. See 47 
CFR 11.1. In this proceeding we consider revisions to Sec.  79.2 of 
our rules, whereas EAS is governed by Part 11 of our rules. Compare 
47 CFR 79.2 with 47 CFR part 11. In a separate proceeding, the 
Commission considers ways to make EAS alerts more accessible to 
persons with disabilities. While the EAS rules apply only to certain 
emergency communications, as stated above, Sec.  79.2 of the 
Commission's rules applies more broadly to televised emergency 
information. Compare 47 CFR 11.1 with 47 CFR 79.2.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    3. The CVAA also required the Chairman of the Commission to 
establish an advisory committee known as the Video Programming 
Accessibility Advisory Committee (``VPAAC''). The Commission announced 
the establishment of the VPAAC on December 7, 2010, and the committee 
began meeting in January 2011. The VPAAC divided itself into four 
advisory working groups, with Working Group 3 focused on emergency 
information and Working Group 2 focused on video description. Section 
201(e)(2) of the CVAA required the VPAAC to submit a report on video 
description and emergency information to the Commission within 18 
months after the date of enactment of the CVAA, or by April 9, 2012. 
The VPAAC submitted this report on April 9, 2012.\5\ In the VPAAC 
Second Report, Working Group 3 presented its findings on methods to 
convey emergency information to individuals who are blind or visually 
impaired, including alternatives that it considered and rejected. 
Working Group 3 concluded that crawls containing emergency information 
should be made accessible to persons who are blind or visually impaired 
by transmitting an audio representation of the emergency information on 
a secondary audio stream, as the Commission now proposes. Working Group 
3 also suggested issues that should be analyzed further, and it 
described variables that may affect implementation deadlines. In a 
separate section of the same report, Working Group 2 presented 
information on technical capabilities, protocols, and procedures by 
which video description reaches the consumer, as well as developments 
for the delivery of video description. Working Group 2 then set forth 
its findings and recommendations pertaining to the creation and 
delivery of video description.\6\ The Media Bureau and the Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau sought comment on the portions of the VPAAC 
Second Report that address emergency information and video description.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ Second Report of the Video Programming Accessibility 
Advisory Committee on the Twenty-First Century Communications and 
Video Accessibility Act of 2010, available at http://vpaac.wikispaces.com (``VPAAC Second Report''). The portion of the 
report that addresses video description is available at http://
vpaac.wikispaces.com/file/view/
120409+VPAAC+Video+Description+REPORT+AS+SUBMITTED+4-9-2012.pdf. The 
portion of the report that addresses access to emergency information 
is available at http://vpaac.wikispaces.com/file/view/
120409+VPAAC+Access+to+Emergency+Information+REPORT+AS+SUBMITTED+4-
9-2012.pdf.
    \6\ In presenting its findings and recommendations, the VPAAC 
discussed the consumer position separately from the industry 
position where there was not a consensus. Additionally, we note that 
the VPAAC presented certain recommendations regarding the provision 
of information about programming that is video described, including 
proposals that entities be required to provide information about 
video described programming on their Web sites and to programming 
information distributors. These issues are beyond the scope of this 
proceeding, and accordingly we will not consider them here.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    4. The Commission previously addressed the issue of making 
televised emergency information accessible to those who are blind or 
visually impaired in 2000. Implementation of Video Description of Video 
Programming, Report and Order, 65 FR 54805 (2000) (``2000 Video 
Description Order''). The Commission adopted a rule that required 
broadcast stations and multichannel video programming distributors 
(``MVPDs'') ``that provide[] local emergency information to make the 
critical details of that information accessible to persons with visual 
disabilities'' in certain situations. Specifically, pursuant to Sec.  
79.2 of the Commission's rules, the emergency information requirements 
for accessibility to persons with visual disabilities vary based on 
whether the information is provided in the video portion of a newscast. 
First, if emergency information is provided in the video portion of a 
regularly scheduled newscast, or in the video portion of a newscast 
that interrupts regular programming, it must be made accessible to 
people who are blind or visually impaired.\7\ 47 CFR 79.2(b)(1)(ii). 
This requires the aural presentation of emergency information that is 
being provided to viewers visually to be included as part of the 
primary program audio stream. Second, if emergency information is 
provided solely visually during programming that is not a newscast 
(such as through an on-screen crawl), it must be accompanied by an 
aural tone. 47 CFR 79.2(b)(1)(iii). It is the second situation that is 
the focus of the instant proceeding. Industry has coalesced around the 
use of three high-pitched tones to indicate the presence of on-screen 
emergency information, although the Commission's rules do not specify 
that three tones must be used. In this situation, when an individual 
who is blind or visually impaired hears the three tones, he or she must 
take some other action, such as turning on a radio, to determine the 
nature and severity of the situation. As a result, individuals who are 
blind or visually impaired may have inadequate or untimely access to 
emergency information. This proceeding seeks to remedy this situation 
by ensuring that the critical details of emergency information provided 
visually during programming other than a newscast will be fully 
accessible to those members of the program's audience who are blind or 
visually impaired.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ Section 79.2 contains a separate requirement that video 
programming distributors must make emergency information that is 
provided in the audio portion of the programming accessible to 
persons with hearing disabilities by using closed captioning or a 
method of visual presentation. 47 CFR 79.2(b)(1)(i). That 
requirement is not at issue in this proceeding. Instead, this 
proceeding involves the portions of Sec.  79.2(b) concerning 
accessibility to persons with visual disabilities. 47 CFR 
79.2(b)(1)(ii) through (iii).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    5. In addition to emergency information, we also consider access to 
video description in this proceeding. Video description services make 
video programming accessible to individuals who are blind or visually 
impaired. Video description is the insertion of audio narrated 
descriptions of a

[[Page 70973]]

television program's key visual elements into natural pauses between 
the program's dialogue. 47 CFR 79.3(a)(3). Last year, as directed by 
the CVAA, the Commission reinstated, with certain modifications, video 
description rules previously vacated by the United States Court of 
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. See 47 U.S.C. 613(f)(1)-
(2); Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century 
Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Report and Order, 
76 FR 55585 (2011) (``2011 Video Description Order''). The rules 
require full-power affiliates of the top four national networks located 
in the top 25 television markets to provide 50 hours per calendar 
quarter of video-described prime time and/or children's programming. 
The rules also require MVPDs that operate systems with 50,000 or more 
subscribers to provide 50 hours per calendar quarter of video-described 
prime time and/or children's programming on each of the top five non-
broadcast networks that they carry on those systems. Broadcast 
television stations and MVPDs must additionally ``pass through'' video 
description if they have the technical capability to do so. 
Broadcasters and MVPDs were required to be in full compliance with 
these requirements beginning on July 1, 2012. Video descriptions for 
digital television are provided as a secondary audio service, and 
typically a viewer can access video description through an onscreen 
menu provided by the viewer's home television receiver or set-top box.

III. Discussion

    6. At the outset, we do not, at this time, extend the scope of the 
emergency information and video description rules in this proceeding 
beyond the category of programming already covered by our existing 
emergency information and video description rules.\8\ 47 CFR 79.2(a)-
(b), 79.3(a)-(c). In other words, for purposes of this proceeding, the 
emergency information and video description rules will continue to 
apply to television broadcast services and MVPD services, but not to 
IP-delivered video programming that is not otherwise an MVPD service. 
Notably, Congress did not explicitly extend the scope of the emergency 
information rules to IP-delivered video programming, as it did in 
requiring closed captioning of IP-delivered video programming.\9\ See 
47 U.S.C. 613(c). Instead, Congress referenced television-based 
definitions of video programming distributors and providers. 47 U.S.C. 
613(g)(2). In addition, as a practical matter, we note that the VPAAC 
found that ``at this time * * * there does not appear to be any uniform 
or consistent methodology for delivering emergency information via the 
Internet.'' Similarly, we note that the CVAA directs that the 
Commission's video description regulations ``shall apply to video 
programming * * * insofar as such programming is transmitted for 
display on television in digital format.'' 47 U.S.C. 613(f)(2)(A). 
Accordingly, the video description rules require video description only 
by television broadcast stations and MVPDs. Consistent with this view 
and as explained more fully below, we propose to limit the scope of the 
apparatus rules that the Commission will adopt in this proceeding to 
apparatus that make available the type of programming that is subject 
to our existing emergency information rules, as set forth in Sec.  
79.2, and our existing video description rules, as set forth in Sec.  
79.3, i.e., apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record 
broadcast or MVPD service. We seek comment on this analysis.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ We note that Congress directed the Commission to conduct 
inquiries on further video description requirements in the future. 
47 U.S.C. 613(f)(3).
    \9\ We note, however, that Congress charged the VPAAC to report 
and make recommendations to the Commission with respect to the 
delivery of accessible emergency information and video description 
using IP. Public Law 111-260, sections 201(e)(2)(B), (C), and (E) 
(charging the VPAAC to identify ``the performance objectives * * * 
needed to permit content providers, content distributors, Internet 
service providers, software developers, and device manufacturers to 
reliably encode, transport, receive, and render video descriptions 
of video programming, except for consumer generated media, and 
emergency information delivered using Internet protocol or digital 
broadcast television''; to identify ``additional protocols * * * for 
the delivery of video descriptions of video programming, except for 
consumer generated media, and emergency information delivered using 
Internet protocol or digital broadcast television * * *''; and to 
recommend ``any regulations that may be necessary to ensure 
compatibility between video programming, except for consumer 
generated media, delivered using Internet protocol or digital 
broadcast television and devices capable of receiving and displaying 
such programming, except for consumer generated media, in order to 
facilitate access to video descriptions and emergency 
information'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

A. Accessible Emergency Information

    7. The CVAA requires us to ``promulgate regulations that require 
video programming providers and video programming distributors [as 
defined in Sec.  79.1 of our rules] and program owners to convey such 
emergency information in a manner accessible to individuals who are 
blind or visually impaired.'' 47 U.S.C. 613(g)(2). Based upon the VPAAC 
Second Report and the record assembled in this proceeding regarding the 
relative advantages and disadvantages of several possible methods, 
discussed below, we propose to require covered entities to make 
emergency information that is provided visually during programming that 
is not a newscast (such as that provided via crawls) accessible to 
individuals who are blind or visually impaired by using a secondary 
audio stream to provide that emergency information aurally and 
concurrently with the emergency information being conveyed visually.
    8. As noted above, our emergency information rules currently 
require video programming distributors to do two things to make 
emergency information accessible to individuals who are blind or 
visually impaired.\10\ First, for emergency information that is 
provided in the video portion of a regularly scheduled newscast or a 
newscast that interrupts regular programming, they must make the 
emergency information accessible to persons with visual disabilities. 
47 CFR 79.2(b)(1)(ii). This accessibility is achieved through the aural 
presentation in the main program audio of emergency information that is 
being provided to viewers visually. No commenters indicated a need to 
revise the existing rules for this situation. We, therefore, do not 
propose any substantive changes to this requirement and expect covered 
entities to comply with the existing rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ We note that, in addition to the provisions addressing 
accessibility to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, our 
emergency information rules also contain a provision addressing 
accessibility to individuals with hearing disabilities. 47 CFR 
79.2(b)(1)(i) (requiring that ``[e]mergency information that is 
provided in the audio portion of the programming must be made 
accessible to persons with hearing disabilities by using a method of 
closed captioning or by using a method of visual presentation, as 
described in Sec.  79.1 of this part''). The emergency information 
provisions of section 202 of the CVAA are focused on individuals who 
are blind or visually impaired, and not on individuals who are deaf 
or hearing impaired. 47 U.S.C. 613(g) (requiring the Commission to 
adopt rules relating to conveying emergency information ``in a 
manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually 
impaired''). Accordingly, accessibility of emergency information to 
individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing is not at issue in this 
proceeding.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    9. Second, for emergency information that is provided in the video 
portion of programming that is not a regularly scheduled newscast or a 
newscast that interrupts regular programming, under our current rules 
video programming distributors must accompany the emergency information 
with an aural tone. 47 CFR 79.2(b)(1)(iii). We seek comment on our 
proposal to modify this requirement as the VPAAC advocates by requiring 
video programming distributors to make emergency information available 
on a secondary audio stream, if that information is provided visually 
in programming that

[[Page 70974]]

is not a newscast.\11\ Under this approach, consumers would be alerted 
to the presence of such emergency information through the already-
required aural tone that accompanies this emergency information, and 
the emergency information would be accessible to consumers who are 
blind or visually impaired who switch to a secondary audio stream. The 
VPAAC, which includes representatives of the industry and consumer 
groups, supports the use of a secondary audio stream for this purpose. 
According to the VPAAC, MVPDs, including cable operators, direct 
broadcast satellite (``DBS'') providers, and Internet protocol 
television providers (``IPTV providers''), are technically capable of 
providing access to emergency information through the secondary audio 
streams. The National Association of Broadcasters (``NAB'') also 
supports the approach of using the secondary audio stream to provide 
emergency information that is conveyed in an onscreen crawl in a manner 
that is audibly accessible.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ We also propose a non-substantive edit to our existing 
emergency information rules. Specifically, we propose to change 
references to ``[e]mergency information that is provided in the 
video portion'' in the current rules to ``[e]mergency information 
that is provided visually.'' We welcome comment on this proposal.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    10. We seek comment on the benefits of providing accessible 
emergency information on a secondary audio stream and the incremental 
costs of providing a secondary audio stream for this purpose. Are there 
any broadcasters or MVPDs that do not currently provide a secondary 
audio stream, and if so, should the new rules apply any differently to 
them? We explained in the 2011 Video Description Order that certain 
stations and MVPDs may lack the technical capability to pass through 
video description, and therefore the Commission reinstated a technical 
capability exception. Are there technical capability issues that should 
be taken into account in the context of requiring emergency information 
to be provided on a secondary audio stream? If lack of technical 
capability is an issue, how should the Commission consider it in 
revising its emergency information rules as proposed herein? If a video 
programming distributor does not currently make available a secondary 
audio stream, but it has the technical capability to do so, should the 
Commission require it to make available a secondary audio stream that 
could be used to provide emergency information? Or are there 
alternative ways for video programming distributors that do not have a 
secondary audio stream to provide such information? What impact, if 
any, would the proposals contained in this NPRM have on broadcasters' 
ability to channel share? What additional bandwidth, if any, would 
MVPDs need to transmit multiple audio streams, and how would this 
affect their networks if they carry multiple audio streams for all 
channels? Are any broadcasters or MVPDs providing more than two audio 
streams? If there are more than two audio streams available, what is 
provided or should be provided on those audio streams and how will 
consumers know which one to tune to for emergency information? Should 
aurally accessible emergency information always be provided on the 
audio stream containing video description, rather than on a stream 
dedicated to aurally accessible emergency information or containing 
other program-related material, such as a Spanish or other language 
audio stream? We seek comment on whether and how the proposals 
contained herein should apply to EAS alerts. For example, to what 
extent is emergency information provided as visual-only EAS alerts? See 
47 CFR 11.51.
    11. We invite input on the implementation of our proposal to 
require covered entities to make emergency information that is provided 
visually during programming that is not a newscast (such as that 
provided via crawls) accessible to individuals who are blind or 
visually impaired by using a secondary audio stream to provide that 
emergency information aurally and concurrently with the emergency 
information being conveyed visually. What time frame is appropriate for 
requiring covered entities to convey emergency information in a 
secondary audio stream? What steps must covered entities take to meet 
this requirement? Should we require covered entities to provide 
customer support services to assist consumers who are blind or visually 
impaired to navigate between the main and secondary audio streams to 
access accessible emergency information? We seek comment on whether the 
Commission should update its definition of ``emergency information.'' 
See 47 CFR 79.2(a)(2). For example, to what extent are severe 
thunderstorms currently considered to be ``emergencies'' subject to our 
rule? To the extent they are currently covered, should they be added to 
the list of examples in the rule? Are there other examples of 
emergencies that should explicitly be included in our definition of 
``emergency information''? What impact would revising our definition of 
emergency information have on the availability of video description, 
given that, under our proposal above, both services will be provided 
using a secondary audio stream?
    12. Assuming the Commission requires that visual emergency 
information be made accessible by means of a secondary audio stream, to 
what extent should the Commission permit the use of text-to-speech 
(``TTS'') technologies? TTS is a technology that generates an audio 
version of a textual message. The VPAAC found TTS to be essential for 
conveying emergency information because of the speed with which it can 
generate the necessary audio.\12\ In a proceeding regarding EAS earlier 
this year, the Commission initially noted ``concerns in the record 
about whether text-to-speech software is sufficiently accurate and 
reliable to deliver consistently accurate and timely alerts to the 
public,'' and deferred consideration of that issue to a later 
proceeding. However, upon reconsideration, the Commission subsequently 
determined that it would permit, but not require, regulated entities to 
use TTS to render EAS audio from the text of EAS alerts formatted in 
the Common Alerting Protocol until the merits of mandating TTS use for 
EAS purposes have been more fully developed in the record. We seek 
comment on the accuracy and reliability of current TTS technology and, 
more specifically, whether it is sufficiently accurate and reliable for 
rendering an aural translation of emergency information text on a 
secondary audio stream, as proposed above. What would be the costs and 
benefits of using TTS for this purpose? We also seek comment on other 
concerns related to this issue, including the need to timely provide 
emergency information. To the extent commenters consider TTS too 
unreliable for this purpose, we seek comment on how TTS can be made 
more reliable, as well as effective and timely alternatives to TTS and 
their costs and benefits.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ We also note that, if textual data is also transmitted as a 
separate file within the broadcast stream, it can also be made 
available for other assistive technologies and language translation 
systems that have the potential to enhance access to emergency 
information both for consumers with and without visual impairments. 
For example, in addition to providing audio, apparatus could display 
the textual information in large print for viewers who are deaf and 
have a visual impairment. Further, by permitting the text to be 
converted to speech in the apparatus, it could be possible for an 
apparatus to translate emergency information to a language other 
than English, or to provide emergency information when the viewer is 
using that apparatus for something other than watching covered video 
programming. We seek comment on these possibilities.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 70975]]

    13. Should we require emergency information presented aurally to be 
identical to that presented textually, or should differences be 
permissible as long as the information presented aurally is 
comprehensive and satisfies the requirements of Sec.  79.2(a)(2)? We 
note that emergency information is defined as ``[i]nformation, about a 
current emergency, that is intended to further the protection of life, 
health, safety, and property, i.e., critical details regarding the 
emergency and how to respond to the emergency.'' 47 CFR 79.2(a)(2). The 
rule's accompanying note requires the inclusion of ``specific details 
regarding the areas that will be affected by the emergency, evacuation 
orders, detailed descriptions of areas to be evacuated, specific 
evacuation routes, approved shelters or the way to take shelter in 
one's home, instructions on how to secure personal property, road 
closures, and how to obtain relief assistance.'' Must the information 
provided aurally be verbatim to the text provided to comply with this 
directive? Should the emergency information provided aurally be 
abbreviated where the information presented textually is particularly 
lengthy, for example, where it lists many school district closings in 
the viewing area? Given the potential use of the secondary audio stream 
for both emergency information and video description, how can we ensure 
that video description is not unduly interrupted? Should we require 
covered entities to repeat the aural version of emergency information 
on the secondary audio stream or take some other action to ensure that 
consumers have sufficient time to tune in after hearing the required 
aural tones? Is visual but non-textual emergency information--such as a 
map showing the path of a storm--sometimes provided during programming 
that is not a newscast? Are such visual displays (e.g., maps) always 
accompanied by a crawl or scroll containing a textual version of the 
emergency information conveyed by that visual display? What 
requirements should apply to the aural description of visual but non-
textual emergency information?
    14. The Commission's rules currently prohibit emergency information 
from blocking video description, and they prohibit video description 
from blocking emergency information provided by means other than video 
description. 47 CFR 79.2(b)(3)(ii). The VPAAC recommends eliminating 
the portion of this rule that prohibits emergency information from 
blocking video description, given their recommendation that ``emergency 
information conveyed visually by crawl or scroll also be conveyed 
aurally utilizing the same audio stream as the video description audio 
stream.'' The VPAAC recommends that Sec.  79.2(b)(3)(ii) be amended to 
read as follows: ``Any video description provided should not block any 
emergency information provided by video description or by means other 
than video description.'' We propose that this be simplified to read as 
follows: ``Any video description provided should not block any 
emergency information.'' We seek comment on this proposal. Should this 
proposal be expanded to require such aural emergency information to 
supersede any content that may be present on the secondary audio stream 
(e.g., video description, Spanish or other languages, a duplicate of 
the main audio, or silence)?
    15. Do the proposed revisions to the emergency information 
requirements necessitate any revisions to FCC Form 2000C, the 
disability access complaint form, or the existing complaint procedures 
contained in Sec.  79.2(c) of our rules? If so, what revisions are 
needed?
    16. We also seek comment on the roles of the various entities 
listed in section 202. That provision mandates that we ``require video 
programming providers and video programming distributors (as those 
terms are defined in section 79.1 of title 47, Code of Federal 
Regulations) and program owners to convey such emergency information in 
a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually 
impaired.'' 47 U.S.C. 613(g)(2). Section 79.1 of our rules defines a 
``video programming distributor'' as ``[a]ny television broadcast 
station licensed by the Commission and any multichannel video 
programming distributor as defined in Sec.  76.1000(e) of this chapter, 
and any other distributor of video programming for residential 
reception that delivers such programming directly to the home and is 
subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission.'' 47 CFR 79.1(a)(2). 
That section defines a ``video programming provider'' as ``[a]ny video 
programming distributor and any other entity that provides video 
programming that is intended for distribution to residential households 
including, but not limited to broadcast or nonbroadcast television 
network and the owners of such programming.'' 47 CFR 79.1(a)(3). 
Section 79.2 of the Commission's rules currently imposes emergency 
information accessibility requirements on video programming 
distributors only, but section 202(a) of the CVAA requires us to 
promulgate regulations containing requirements for video programming 
providers and program owners as well as video programming distributors. 
47 U.S.C. 613(g)(2). What role should video programming distributors, 
video programming providers, and program owners play in ensuring that 
emergency information is conveyed in an accessible manner? Should video 
programming distributors hold the primary responsibility, with video 
programming providers and program owners being prohibited from 
interfering with or hindering a video programming distributor's 
provision of accessible emergency information? Or, are there certain 
responsibilities that should be allocated to each of the covered 
entities? What entity is generally responsible for preparing a crawl or 
scroll containing emergency information, and how does that 
responsibility affect the obligation to provide an aural version of the 
information?
    17. As noted, Sec.  79.1 of the Commission's rules includes 
definitions for the terms ``video programming provider'' and ``video 
programming distributor,'' but it does not define ``program owner.'' 
See 47 CFR 79.1(a)(2)-(3). The definition of ``video programming 
provider'' does, however, include a ``broadcast or nonbroadcast 
television network and the owners of such programming.'' 47 CFR 
79.1(a)(3). We seek comment on whether it is necessary to separately 
define a video programming owner in the present context. In the context 
of closed captioning of IP-delivered video programming, the Commission 
defined a video programming owner as ``any person or entity that either 
(i) licenses the video programming to a video programming distributor 
or provider that makes the video programming available directly to the 
end user through a distribution method that uses Internet protocol; or 
(ii) acts as the video programming distributor or provider, and also 
possesses the right to license the video programming to a video 
programming distributor or provider that makes the video programming 
available directly to the end user through a distribution method that 
uses Internet protocol.'' Closed Captioning of Internet Protocol-
Delivered Video Programming: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century 
Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Report and Order, 
77 FR 19480 (2012) (``IP Closed Captioning Order''). Although the 
references in this definition to ``a distribution method that uses 
Internet protocol'' are specific to the IP closed captioning 
proceeding, and thus would not be applicable here, the definition may 
be useful as a starting

[[Page 70976]]

point for purposes of defining ``program owner'' in this context. For 
example, for purposes of this proceeding, we seek comment on whether we 
should define a video programming owner as any person or entity that 
either (i) licenses the video programming to a video programming 
distributor or provider, as those terms are defined in Sec.  79.1 of 
the Commission's rules; or (ii) acts as the video programming 
distributor or provider, and also possesses the right to license the 
video programming to a video programming distributor or provider, as 
those terms are defined in Sec.  79.1 of the Commission's rules.
    18. The VPAAC identified additional or alternative methods to 
convey emergency information in a manner accessible to individuals who 
are blind or visually impaired, other than the use of a secondary audio 
stream.\13\ For example, the VPAAC considered alternatives such as: (1) 
Including a shortened audio version of the textual emergency 
information on the primary stream; or (2) broadcasting a 5 to 10 second 
audio message after the three high-pitched tones announcing the start 
of a textual message, to inform individuals who are blind or visually 
impaired of a means by which they could access the emergency 
information, such as a telephone number or radio station. According to 
the VPAAC, these alternatives could be used in concert with each other, 
but they would have disadvantages, including interruption to the main 
program audio and the need for sufficient resources to create and 
manage the brief audio messages. Should we require (on an interim 
basis) or permit covered entities to use one or more of these 
alternative approaches in concert with the use of the secondary audio 
stream that we propose above? The VPAAC also considered and rejected 
other alternatives that it determined either did not meet the 
requirements of the CVAA, relied upon technology or services that are 
not widely available, or involved additional problems.\14\ We invite 
comment on whether the alternatives rejected by VPAAC merit further 
consideration. We ask commenters to identify any other alternative 
methods by which video programming providers and distributors and 
program owners can make emergency information accessible to individuals 
who are blind or visually impaired. Are any such alternatives 
preferable to our proposal, which requires the use of a secondary audio 
stream? How would the costs and benefits of any alternate proposals 
compare to the costs and benefits of the proposed use of the secondary 
audio stream discussed herein?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \13\ The CVAA requires us to ``identify methods to convey 
emergency information * * * in a manner accessible to individuals 
who are blind or visually impaired.'' 47 U.S.C. 613(g)(1).
    \14\ The VPAAC rejected the following alternatives: (1) 
``dipping'' or lowering the main program audio and playing an aural 
message over the lowered audio; (2) providing screen reader software 
or devices on request; (3) enabling users to select and enlarge 
emergency crawl text; (4) providing guidance for consumers, such as 
how to switch to a secondary audio channel, which is insufficient as 
a standalone solution; and (5) using an Internet-based standardized 
application to filter emergency information by location.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Apparatus Requirements for Emergency Information and Video 
Description

    19. Pursuant to section 203 of the CVAA, the Commission must 
require certain apparatus to have the capability to decode and make 
available required video description services and emergency information 
in a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually 
impaired. 47 U.S.C. 303(u), (z), 330(b). The Commission must prescribe 
these requirements by October 9, 2013. The regulations promulgated as 
part of the current proceeding must include ``any technical standards, 
protocols, and procedures needed for the transmission of'' video 
description and emergency information. Public Law 111-260, Sec.  
203(d). Below we seek comment on requirements for apparatus with regard 
to video description and emergency information. Our section 203 
discussion focuses on the availability of secondary audio streams, 
because that is both the current mechanism for providing video 
description and our proposed mechanism for making emergency information 
accessible.
1. Requirements for Apparatus Subject to Section 203 of the CVAA
    20. Pursuant to section 203 of the CVAA, ``apparatus designed to 
receive or play back video programming transmitted simultaneously with 
sound, if such apparatus is manufactured in the United States or 
imported for use in the United States and uses a picture screen of any 
size,'' must ``have the capability to decode and make available the 
transmission and delivery of'' required video description services. 47 
U.S.C. 303(u)(1)(B). Such apparatus must also ``have the capability to 
decode and make available emergency information * * * in a manner that 
is accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.'' 47 
U.S.C. 303(u)(1)(C). We seek comment on the meaning of these 
requirements. What specific capabilities should the Commission mandate? 
What steps must manufacturers of covered apparatus take to ensure that 
video description services and emergency information provided via a 
secondary audio stream are available and accessible? How should we 
balance the costs of compliance for apparatus subject to section 203 of 
the CVAA and the benefits to consumers? With respect to MVPD-provided 
apparatus, should we impose different requirements on equipment 
provided by different types of MVPDs? For example, the House Committee 
Report indicated that DBS providers may face unique technical 
challenges pertaining to compliance with section 203 of the CVAA. We 
seek comment on whether apparatus should have the capability to make 
textual emergency information audible through the use of text-to-
speech, consistent with our discussion above in paragraph 12 or whether 
there are any other specific capabilities that apparatus would need to 
include to comply with these requirements beyond the ability to select 
and decode a secondary audio stream. If so, should we require 
broadcasters and MVPDs to make the textual emergency information 
available to apparatus?
    21. We also seek comment on the requirements for recording devices, 
namely, that ``apparatus designed to record video programming 
transmitted simultaneously with sound * * * enable the rendering or the 
pass through of * * * video description signals, and emergency 
information * * * such that viewers are able to activate and de-
activate the * * * video description as the video programming is played 
back on a picture screen of any size.'' 47 U.S.C. 303(z)(1). What 
should we require of recording devices to ``enable the rendering or the 
pass through of'' video description and emergency information? We seek 
comment on the benefits and incremental costs to ensuring that video 
description and accessible emergency information, when provided as 
proposed on the secondary audio stream, are recorded and can be 
activated or de-activated when played back. How do requirements 
relating to emergency information apply to recording devices, given 
that emergency information is, by its nature, extremely time sensitive? 
How should we expect recording devices to ensure that the secondary 
audio stream is stored along with the associated video, such that a 
consumer may switch between the main program audio and the secondary 
audio stream when viewing recorded programming?
    22. The Commission's rules must ``provide performance and display 
standards for * * * the transmission and delivery of video description

[[Page 70977]]

services, and the conveyance of emergency information as required * * * 
.'' 47 U.S.C. 330(b). We seek comment on what performance and display 
standards we should impose for the transmission and delivery of video 
description and emergency information. We also seek comment on the 
VPAAC's suggestion that, when video description, alternate language 
audio, and emergency information are not available on a secondary audio 
channel, best efforts should be taken to ensure that the channel 
contains the main program audio rather than silence. Such an approach 
would enable consumers to tune to their secondary audio stream all of 
the time, instead of needing to switch back and forth depending on 
whether video description is available for a particular program or 
emergency information is being provided. Should we impose this as a 
requirement, or recommend it as a best practice?
    23. Section 203 of the CVAA directs the Commission to require that 
``interconnection mechanisms and standards for digital video source 
devices are available to carry from the source device to the consumer 
equipment the information necessary to permit or render the display of 
closed captions and to make encoded video description and emergency 
information audible.'' 47 U.S.C. 303(z)(2). It is our understanding 
that most, if not all, devices already use interconnection mechanisms 
that make available audio provided via a secondary audio stream. Thus, 
we do not believe that any further steps are necessary to implement 
this requirement. We seek comment on our understanding.
    24. We seek comment on three issues that arose in the 2011 video 
description proceeding that may be relevant here. They pertain to 
equipment features that present challenges for video programming 
distributors and consumers. First, the 2011 Video Description Order 
observed that ``viewers with digital sets may be unable to find and 
activate an audio stream that has been properly labeled `VI' (`Visually 
Impaired') pursuant to the ATSC standard,'' so the audio stream used 
for video description must be labeled as ``CM'' (``complete main'') for 
the system to work properly. Further, some television receivers do not 
handle two audio tracks identified as English properly, and thus to 
ensure compatibility, broadcasters often tag the video description 
stream as a foreign language. That is, rather than conveying metadata 
that indicates the audio stream is an English track for the visually 
impaired (VI-English), broadcasters convey metadata that the service is 
a ``complete main'' audio stream in a foreign language (typically CM-
Spanish or CM-Portuguese) in order to provide a tag for the stream. In 
2011, the Commission decided that this issue would be better addressed 
in a later proceeding. The VPAAC recognizes that there is a ``need for 
a more user-friendly mechanism to allow the carriage of multiple audio 
services,'' but it does not identify a timeframe for such a mechanism. 
We seek comment on whether the Commission should impose a requirement 
at this time that broadcast receivers detect and decode tracks marked 
for the ``visually impaired.'' How would consumers who have not 
upgraded their equipment be affected by such a requirement? How can we 
minimize any confusion or cost to such consumers? How can we mitigate 
the need for consumers to purchase new equipment to take advantage of 
the requirements proposed herein? Do the issues discussed in this 
paragraph pertain to MVPDs as well as broadcasters?
    25. Second, Dolby Laboratories, Inc. commented that the audio 
experience for individuals accessing video-described programming could 
be enhanced if devices supported a ``receiver-mix'' technology that 
would enable the device to combine the full surround sound main audio 
with video description. Although it is technically possible for 
broadcasters and some MVPDs to provide two full surround channels, the 
additional bandwidth required to do so could pose a hardship for those 
entities. In the 2011 Video Description Order, the Commission 
determined that this issue would also be better addressed in a later 
proceeding. We invite comment on whether any action should be taken on 
this issue at this time.
    26. Third, although the ATSC standard for digital television 
broadcasting enables the use of multiple audio streams (including, for 
example, the concurrent use of a main audio stream, a secondary video 
description stream, and a third stream containing Spanish or other 
foreign language audio), it is our understanding that few, if any, 
broadcasters or MVPDs provide more than two audio streams, and few 
devices are able to accommodate more than two audio streams. The 2011 
Video Description Order noted that equipment limitations may prohibit 
some viewers from being able to access a third audio channel even if 
one were to be provided by a video programming distributor. Although we 
do not propose to require video programming distributors to carry more 
than one additional audio channel at this time, we are concerned that 
equipment limitations may be discouraging video programming 
distributors from doing so voluntarily. We seek comment on the 
suggestion of consumer members of the VPAAC that we ``consider how best 
to facilitate a transition * * * to deliver multiple simultaneous 
ancillary audio services, so that both Spanish (or other alternate 
languages) and video description could be provided for the same 
program.'' Although industry members of the VPAAC concluded that we do 
not need a single format, protocol, or standard for multiple audio 
services, we note the existence of what is known as ``CEA-CEB21,'' 
Recommended Practice for Selection and Presentation of DTV Audio, a 
bulletin that ``provides recommendations to manufacturers to facilitate 
user setup of audio features in the receiver without professional 
assistance.'' \15\ The VPAAC stated that consumer receiving devices 
could be built in accordance with the recommendations contained in CEA-
CEB21. Is this a solution that the Commission should mandate? We seek 
comment on the costs associated with building a device in compliance 
with this bulletin, as well as any drawbacks to doing so. Would the 
benefits of building a device in compliance with CEA-CEB21 outweigh the 
costs? Are there other industry guidelines that could facilitate 
compatibility between apparatus and covered services containing 
multiple audio streams? If we require apparatus to comply with the 
recommendations contained in CEA-CEB21, are there corresponding 
requirements that we should impose on broadcasters and MVPDs, and if 
so, what?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ CEA-CEB21, Recommended Practice for Selection and 
Presentation of DTV Audio, June 2011, available at http://www.ce.org/Standards/Standard-Listings/R4-3-Television-Data-Systems-Subcommittee/CEA-CEB21.aspx.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    27. We invite comment on the appropriate deadline by which we 
should require apparatus to meet the requirements that we adopt as part 
of this proceeding. We note that the Commission has previously imposed 
a two-year deadline for apparatus requirements, for example, in the IP 
Closed Captioning Order. We ask commenters to justify any deadline they 
propose by explaining what must be done by that deadline to comply with 
the new requirements. Should we consider here the argument made by the 
Consumer Electronics Association (``CEA'') in a pending petition for 
reconsideration of the IP Closed Captioning Order that the compliance 
deadline should be interpreted to refer

[[Page 70978]]

only to the date of manufacture, and not to the date of importation?
    28. In order to address any failures to comply with the new 
requirements after the established deadline, we propose imposing 
complaint procedures comparable to those adopted for apparatus 
complaints in the IP Closed Captioning Order. As a preliminary matter, 
we seek comment on whether the Commission should require MVPDs that 
provide set-top boxes to provide customer support services to assist 
consumers who are blind or visually impaired to navigate between the 
main and secondary audio streams to access video description and 
accessible emergency information. Would such a requirement help fulfill 
the CVAA's mandate that apparatus have the capability to decode and 
make available video description and accessible emergency information, 
e.g., does the use of the term ``make available'' in the statute 
reasonably encompass more than simply apparatus functionality? 47 
U.S.C. 303(u)(1)(B) and (C). Would such requirements benefit consumers 
and industry by encouraging the resolution rather than the filing of 
consumer complaints? Would consumers and industry benefit from the 
provision and publication of contact information for resolution of 
consumer concerns, such as we require in our closed captioning rules? 
See 47 CFR 79.1(i). How should the Commission evaluate the potential 
benefits of a customer support requirement and the incremental costs, 
which we expect would be relatively minimal to the extent that a 
company already provides customer support services? What else can be 
done to make legacy equipment more accessible to and available to 
individuals with visual disabilities?
    29. With respect to the filing of complaints, we propose that 
complaints alleging a violation should include: (a) The name, postal 
address, and other contact information of the complainant, such as 
telephone number or email address; (b) the name and contact 
information, such as postal address, of the apparatus manufacturer or 
provider; (c) information sufficient to identify the software or device 
used to view or to attempt to view video programming with video 
description or emergency information; (d) the date or dates on which 
the complainant purchased, acquired, or used, or tried to purchase, 
acquire, or use the apparatus to view video programming with video 
description or emergency information; (e) a statement of facts 
sufficient to show that the manufacturer or provider has violated or is 
violating the Commission's rules; (f) the specific relief or 
satisfaction sought by the complainant; and (g) the complainant's 
preferred format or method of response to the complaint. In addition, 
we propose that a complaint alleging a violation of the apparatus rules 
related to emergency information and video description may be 
transmitted to the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau by any 
reasonable means, such as the Commission's online informal complaint 
filing system, letter in writing or Braille, facsimile transmission, 
telephone (voice/TRS/TTY), email, or some other method that would best 
accommodate the complainant's disability. Given that the population 
intended to benefit from the rules adopted will be blind or visually 
impaired, we also note that, if a complainant calls the Commission for 
assistance in preparing a complaint, Commission staff will document the 
complaint in writing for the consumer and such communication will be 
deemed to be a written complaint. We also propose that the Commission 
will forward such complaints, as appropriate, to the named manufacturer 
or provider for its response, as well as to any other entity that 
Commission staff determines may be involved, and that the Commission be 
permitted to request additional information from any relevant parties 
when, in the estimation of Commission staff, such information is needed 
to investigate the complaint or adjudicate potential violations of 
Commission rules. Do the proposed requirements for apparatus related to 
video description and emergency information necessitate any revisions 
to FCC Form 2000C, the disability access complaint form, and if so, 
what revisions are needed?
2. Apparatus Subject to Section 203 of the CVAA
    30. In this section, we discuss which apparatus should be subject 
to the video description and emergency information requirements of 
section 203 of the CVAA. We propose at this time to apply the video 
description and emergency information requirements of section 203 of 
the CVAA only to apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record 
television broadcast services or MVPD services. In other words, for 
purposes of this proceeding, we propose to limit the scope of the 
apparatus rules that the Commission will adopt in this proceeding to 
apparatus that make available the type of programming that is subject 
to our existing emergency information rules, as set forth in Sec.  79.2 
of our rules, and our existing video description rules, as set forth in 
Sec.  79.3 of our rules. Accordingly, we propose that the apparatus 
requirements discussed herein would not be triggered by apparatus' 
display of IP-delivered video programming that is not part of a 
television broadcast service or MVPD service. We believe this is 
appropriate given that the current video description and emergency 
information rules will continue to apply to television broadcast 
services and MVPD services. We invite comment on this proposal and 
analysis. How should this proposal apply to different types of 
apparatus, for example, to tablet devices that enable users to view 
television programming as part of an MVPD service? Under this proposal, 
how would the new requirements we adopt in this proceeding apply to 
apparatus beyond conventional television equipment, such as televisions 
and cable boxes, to devices such as video game consoles (e.g., Xbox) to 
the extent an MVPD enables its subscribers to access its MVPD service 
through those devices?
    31. In the IP Closed Captioning Order, the Commission concluded 
that the scope of ``apparatus designed to receive or play back video 
programming transmitted simultaneously with sound'' covered by section 
203 includes physical devices designed to receive or play back video 
programming, as well as software integrated in those covered devices. 
We propose that the term ``apparatus'' as used in this proceeding 
similarly extend to physical devices designed to receive, play back, or 
record television broadcast or MVPD service video programming as well 
as integrated software, and we seek comment on that proposal.
    32. The Commission also found in the IP Closed Captioning Order 
that an apparatus is ``designed to receive or play back video 
programming transmitted simultaneously with sound'' if a device is sold 
with, or updated by the manufacturer to add, an integrated video player 
capable of displaying video programming.\16\ The Commission concluded 
further that, if apparatus uses

[[Page 70979]]

a picture screen of any size, that means that the apparatus works in 
conjunction with a picture screen. In the IP Closed Captioning Order, 
the Commission also addressed the meaning of the term ``technically 
feasible,'' and concluded that if something is technically infeasible, 
it is not merely difficult, but rather is physically or technically 
impossible.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \16\ We note that a pending petition for reconsideration of the 
IP Closed Captioning Order seeks a Commission determination that the 
scope of the apparatus requirements adopted in that proceeding 
pursuant to section 203 of the CVAA should apply only to apparatus 
that include ``video programming'' players, as that term is defined 
in the CVAA, and not more broadly to any apparatus that include a 
``video player.'' See Petition for Reconsideration of the Consumer 
Electronics Association, MB Docket No. 11-154, at 3-5 (filed Apr. 
30, 2012) (``CEA Recon. Petition''). The CEA Recon. Petition also 
argues that the Commission misinterpreted the phrase ``designed 
to,'' claiming that the phrase instead refers to the subjective 
intent of the manufacturer rather than the objective fact that the 
product was designed with this capability. Id. at 5-8. The CEA 
Recon. Petition remains pending before the Commission.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    33. We propose to apply the interpretation of ``technically 
feasible,'' ``designed to receive or play back video programming 
transmitted simultaneously with sound,'' and ``uses a picture screen of 
any size'' from the IP Closed Captioning Order to the present video 
description and emergency information context. We seek comment on this 
proposal. We note that the IP Closed Captioning Order interpreted the 
same provisions of section 203 of the CVAA that are at issue in this 
proceeding, and accordingly, we see no basis to deviate from the 
Commission's carefully considered prior interpretations of 
``technically feasible,'' ``designed to receive or play back video 
programming transmitted simultaneously with sound,'' or ``uses a 
picture screen of any size.'' We note, however, that unlike the IP 
closed captioning context, we propose to apply the rules in this 
context, as discussed above, only to apparatus designed to receive, 
play back, or record television broadcast services or MVPD services. As 
in the IP Closed Captioning Order, we propose to permit parties to 
raise technical infeasibility as a defense to a complaint or, 
alternatively, to file a request for a ruling under Sec.  1.41 of the 
Commission's rules before manufacturing or importing the product, and 
we invite comment on this proposal.
    34. Consistent with the IP Closed Captioning Order, we propose to 
include removable media play back apparatus, such as DVD and Blu-ray 
players, within the scope of the new requirements, but only to the 
extent that they receive, play back, or record television broadcast 
services or MVPD services.\17\ We seek comment on whether this proposal 
is the best reading of the statute. We also propose excluding 
commercial video equipment, including professional movie theater 
projectors and similar types of professional equipment. We propose this 
exclusion because we believe that a typical consumer would not view 
televised video programming via a professional movie theater projector 
or similar professional equipment.\18\ We invite comments on the costs 
and benefits of our proposal to include removable media players within 
the scope of the new requirements while excluding commercial video 
equipment. Should we require only video description, and not emergency 
information, to be accessible via removable media players, since 
generally we expect that emergency information will no longer be 
pertinent at the time consumers play back video programming on 
removable media players? Or, might consumers wish to preserve the 
emergency information, such as information about shelter locations, 
school closings, or alternative evacuation routes on removable media--
in which case, our rules should cover those devices as well? If 
removable media play back apparatus are made capable of playing back a 
secondary audio stream with video description, would they necessarily 
also be capable of playing back emergency information on a secondary 
audio stream? Would removable media apparatus be capable of 
distinguishing between or providing video description but not emergency 
information?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \17\ We note that the CEA Recon. Petition argues that the 
Commission should not treat removable media players as apparatus 
covered by the captioning rules. See CEA Recon. Petition at 8-18.
    \18\ Additionally, the legislative history of the CVAA explains 
that section 203(a) was intended to ``ensure[] that devices 
consumers use to view video programming are able to * * * decode, 
and make available the transmission of video description services, 
and decode and make available emergency information.'' See House 
Committee Report at 30 (emphasis added); Senate Committee Report at 
14 (emphasis added). We therefore believe that Congress intended the 
Commission's regulations to cover apparatus that are used by 
consumers, which would not include professional or commercial 
equipment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Achievability, Display-Only Monitors, and Purpose-Based Waivers
    35. Section 203 of the CVAA creates and authorizes exceptions for 
certain categories of apparatus that otherwise would be subject to the 
section 203 requirements. Public Law 111-260, section 203(a)-(b). 
Specifically, section 203 provides that certain apparatus must meet the 
requirements of that section only if ``achievable,'' as that word is 
defined in section 716 of the Act.\19\ The achievability exception 
applies to apparatus ``that use a picture screen that is less than 13 
inches in size.'' 47 U.S.C. 303(u)(2)(A). The achievability exception 
also applies to ``apparatus designed to record video programming 
transmitted simultaneously with sound.'' \20\ 47 U.S.C. 303(z)(1). 
Section 203 also states that ``any apparatus or class of apparatus that 
are display-only video monitors with no playback capability are exempt 
from the requirements * * *.'' 47 U.S.C. 303(u)(2)(B). Further, section 
203 permits the Commission ``on its own motion or in response to a 
petition by a manufacturer, to waive the requirements * * * for any 
apparatus or class of apparatus primarily designed for activities other 
than receiving or playing back video programming transmitted 
simultaneously with sound; or for equipment designed for multiple 
purposes, capable of receiving or playing video programming transmitted 
simultaneously with sound but whose essential utility is derived from 
other purposes.'' 47 U.S.C. 303(u)(2)(C).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \19\ Section 716 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended 
(the ``Act''), defines ``achievable'' as ``with reasonable effort or 
expense, as determined by the Commission,'' and it directs the 
Commission to consider the following factors in determining whether 
the requirements of a provision are achievable: ``(1) The nature and 
cost of the steps needed to meet the requirements of this section 
with respect to the specific equipment or service in question. (2) 
The technical and economic impact on the operation of the 
manufacturer or provider and on the operation of the specific 
equipment or service in question, including on the development and 
deployment of new communications technologies. (3) The type of 
operations of the manufacturer or provider. (4) The extent to which 
the service provider or manufacturer in question offers accessible 
services or equipment containing varying degrees of functionality 
and features, and offered at differing price points.'' 47 U.S.C. 
617(g).
    \20\ Similar to the Commission's reasoning in the IP Closed 
Captioning Order, here ``we expect identifying apparatus designed to 
record to be straightforward,'' and we propose that ``when devices 
such as DVD, Blu-ray, and other removable media recording devices 
are capable of recording video programming, they also qualify as 
recording devices under Section 203(b) and therefore'' are subject 
to the requirements that the CVAA imposes on recording devices. We 
invite comment on this interpretation.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    36. We propose to model the scope of these exceptions on the IP 
Closed Captioning Order, in which the Commission evaluated each of 
these exceptions. Regarding achievability, the Commission adopted a 
flexible approach by which a manufacturer may raise achievability as a 
defense to a complaint alleging a violation of section 203, or it may 
seek a determination of achievability from the Commission before 
manufacturing or importing the apparatus.\21\ The Commission found that 
the exemption for display-only video monitors is self-explanatory and 
thus incorporated the language of the statutory provision directly into 
its rules, and the Commission also provided that a manufacturer may 
make a request for a Commission determination as to whether its device

[[Page 70980]]

qualifies for this exemption.\22\ As for purpose-based waivers, another 
type of exception permitted by the statute, the Commission concluded 
that it would address any such waiver requests on a case-by-case basis, 
and it stated that waivers would be available prospectively for 
manufacturers seeking certainty prior to the sale of a device.\23\ What 
impact, if any, would the proposed scope of our rules in this 
proceeding, if adopted, have on the need for such waivers? We seek 
comment on whether the scope of these exceptions as adopted in the IP 
Closed Captioning Order should govern in the present context. Is there 
any reason to deviate from the Commission's previous interpretation of 
these exceptions?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \21\ If a manufacturer seeks a Commission determination of 
achievability before manufacturing or importing an apparatus, it 
would make such a request pursuant to Sec.  1.41 of the Commission's 
rules. See 47 CFR 1.41.
    \22\ A manufacturer would make such a request pursuant to Sec.  
1.41 of the Commission's rules. See 47 CFR 1.41.
    \23\ The Commission also quoted the House and Senate Committee 
Reports, which state that a waiver under these provisions is 
available ``where, for instance, a consumer typically purchases a 
product for a primary purpose other than viewing video programming, 
and access to such programming is provided on an incidental basis.'' 
See House Committee Report at 30; Senate Committee Report at 14. 
Waiver of the Commission's rules is also subject to our general 
waiver standard, which requires good cause and a showing that 
particular facts make compliance inconsistent with the public 
interest. 47 CFR 1.3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. Alternate Means of Compliance
    37. We propose to implement here the same approach to alternate 
means of compliance that we adopted in the IP Closed Captioning Order. 
As set forth in section 203 of the CVAA, ``[a]n entity may meet the 
requirements of sections 303(u), 303(z), and 330(b) of [the Act] 
through alternate means than those prescribed by regulations pursuant 
to subsection (d) if the requirements of those sections are met, as 
determined by the Commission.'' Public Law 111-260, section 203(e). We 
propose that, should an entity seek to use an ``alternate means'' to 
comply with the requirements for apparatus with regard to video 
description and emergency information, that entity could either (i) 
request a Commission determination that the proposed alternate means 
satisfies the statutory requirements through a request pursuant to 
Sec.  1.41 of our rules, 47 CFR 1.41; or (ii) claim in defense to a 
complaint or enforcement action that the Commission should determine 
that the party's actions were permissible alternate means of 
compliance. Rather than specify what may constitute a permissible 
``alternate means,'' we propose to address any specific requests from 
parties subject to the new rules when they are presented to us. We seek 
comment on these proposals. Alternatively, given the nature of 
emergency information, should we impose certain standards that any 
permissible alternate means must meet?

IV. Procedural Matters

A. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    38. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (``RFA''), see 5 U.S.C. 603, the Commission has prepared this 
present Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (``IRFA'') concerning 
the possible significant economic impact on small entities by the 
policies and rules proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
(``NPRM''). Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. 
Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed 
by the deadlines for comments provided on the first page of the NPRM. 
The Commission will send a copy of the NPRM, including this IRFA, to 
the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration 
(``SBA''). See 5 U.S.C. 603(a). In addition, the NPRM and IRFA (or 
summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.
1. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rule Changes
    39. The Federal Communications Commission (``Commission'') 
initiates this proceeding to implement the provisions of the Twenty-
First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 
(``CVAA'') requiring that emergency information be made accessible to 
individuals who are blind or visually impaired and that certain 
equipment be capable of delivering video description and emergency 
information to those individuals. First, pursuant to section 202 of the 
CVAA, the NPRM proposes to make televised emergency information more 
accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired by 
requiring the use of a secondary audio stream to provide emergency 
information aurally that is conveyed visually during programming other 
than newscasts. Second, the NPRM seeks comment under section 203 of the 
CVAA on how to ensure that television apparatus are able to make 
available video description, as well as to make emergency information 
accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Our 
section 203 discussion focuses on the availability of secondary audio 
streams, because that is both the mechanism for providing video 
description and our proposed mechanism for making emergency information 
accessible. The NPRM proposes at this time to apply the video 
description and emergency information requirements of section 203 of 
the CVAA only to apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record 
television broadcast services or MVPD services. Our goal in this 
proceeding is to enable individuals who are blind or visually impaired 
to access emergency information and video description services more 
easily. The proposed revisions to our rules will help fulfill the 
purpose of the CVAA to ``update the communications laws to help ensure 
that individuals with disabilities are able to fully utilize 
communications services and equipment and better access video 
programming.''
2. Legal Basis
    40. The proposed action is authorized pursuant to the Twenty-First 
Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Public Law 
111-260, 124 Stat. 2751, and the authority found in sections 4(i), 
4(j), 303(u) and (z), 330(b), and 713(g), of the Communications Act of 
1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 154(j), 303(u) and (z), 330(b), and 
613(g).
3. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which 
the Proposed Rules Will Apply
    41. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where 
feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be 
affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. The RFA generally defines 
the term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms 
``small business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental 
jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has the same 
meaning as the term ``small business concern'' under the Small Business 
Act. A small business concern is one which: (1) Is independently owned 
and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) 
satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA. Below, we 
provide a description of such small entities, as well as an estimate of 
the number of such small entities, where feasible.
    42. Cable Television Distribution Services. Since 2007, these 
services have been defined within the broad economic census category of 
``Wired Telecommunications Carriers,'' which is defined as follows: 
``This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating 
and/or providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure 
that they own and/or lease for the transmission of voice, data, text, 
sound, and video using wired telecommunications networks.

[[Page 70981]]

Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology or a 
combination of technologies.'' The SBA has developed a small business 
size standard for this category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 
or fewer employees. Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996 
establishments that operated that year. Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated 
with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 
employees. Thus, under this category and the associated small business 
size standard, the majority of such firms can be considered small.
    43. Cable Companies and Systems. The Commission has also developed 
its own small business size standards, for the purpose of cable rate 
regulation. Under the Commission's rules, a ``small cable company'' is 
one serving 400,000 or fewer subscribers, nationwide. Industry data 
indicate that, of 1,076 cable operators nationwide, all but eleven are 
small under this size standard. In addition, under the Commission's 
rules, a ``small system'' is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer 
subscribers. Industry data indicate that, of 6,635 systems nationwide, 
5,802 systems have under 10,000 subscribers, and an additional 302 
systems have 10,000-19,999 subscribers. Thus, under this second size 
standard, most cable systems are small.
    44. Cable System Operators. The Communications Act of 1934, as 
amended, also contains a size standard for small cable system 
operators, which is ``a cable operator that, directly or through an 
affiliate, serves in the aggregate fewer than 1 percent of all 
subscribers in the United States and is not affiliated with any entity 
or entities whose gross annual revenues in the aggregate exceed 
$250,000,000.'' The Commission has determined that an operator serving 
fewer than 677,000 subscribers shall be deemed a small operator if its 
annual revenues, when combined with the total annual revenues of all 
its affiliates, do not exceed $250 million in the aggregate. Industry 
data indicate that all but nine cable operators nationwide are small 
under this subscriber size standard. We note that the Commission 
neither requests nor collects information on whether cable system 
operators are affiliated with entities whose gross annual revenues 
exceed $250 million, and therefore we are unable to estimate more 
accurately the number of cable system operators that would qualify as 
small under this size standard.
    45. Television Broadcasting. This Economic Census category 
``comprises establishments primarily engaged in broadcasting images 
together with sound. These establishments operate television 
broadcasting studios and facilities for the programming and 
transmission of programs to the public.'' The SBA has created the 
following small business size standard for Television Broadcasting 
firms: those having $14 million or less in annual receipts. The 
Commission has estimated the number of licensed commercial television 
stations to be 1,387. In addition, according to Commission staff review 
of the BIA Advisory Services, LLC's Media Access Pro Television 
Database on March 28, 2012, about 950 of an estimated 1,300 commercial 
television stations (or approximately 73 percent) had revenues of $14 
million or less. We therefore estimate that the majority of commercial 
television broadcasters are small entities.
    46. We note, however, that in assessing whether a business concern 
qualifies as small under the above definition, business (control) 
affiliations must be included. Our estimate, therefore, likely 
overstates the number of small entities that might be affected by our 
action because the revenue figure on which it is based does not include 
or aggregate revenues from affiliated companies. In addition, an 
element of the definition of ``small business'' is that the entity not 
be dominant in its field of operation. We are unable at this time to 
define or quantify the criteria that would establish whether a specific 
television station is dominant in its field of operation. Accordingly, 
the estimate of small businesses to which rules may apply does not 
exclude any television station from the definition of a small business 
on this basis and is therefore possibly over-inclusive to that extent.
    47. In addition, the Commission has estimated the number of 
licensed noncommercial educational (NCE) television stations to be 396. 
These stations are non-profit, and therefore considered to be small 
entities.
    48. Direct Broadcast Satellite (``DBS'') Service. DBS service is a 
nationally distributed subscription service that delivers video and 
audio programming via satellite to a small parabolic ``dish'' antenna 
at the subscriber's location. DBS, by exception, is now included in the 
SBA's broad economic census category, ``Wired Telecommunications 
Carriers,'' which was developed for small wireline firms. Under this 
category, the SBA deems a wireline business to be small if it has 1,500 
or fewer employees. Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996 
establishments that operated that year. Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated 
with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 
employees. Thus, under this category and the associated small business 
size standard, the majority of such firms can be considered small. 
Currently, only two entities provide DBS service, which requires a 
great investment of capital for operation: DIRECTV and EchoStar 
Communications Corporation (``EchoStar'') (marketed as the DISH 
Network). Each currently offers subscription services. DIRECTV and 
EchoStar each report annual revenues that are in excess of the 
threshold for a small business. Because DBS service requires 
significant capital, we believe it is unlikely that a small entity as 
defined by the SBA would have the financial wherewithal to become a DBS 
service provider.
    49. Satellite Telecommunications Providers. Two economic census 
categories address the satellite industry. The first category has a 
small business size standard of $15 million or less in average annual 
receipts, under SBA rules. The second has a size standard of $25 
million or less in annual receipts.
    50. The category of ``Satellite Telecommunications'' ``comprises 
establishments primarily engaged in providing telecommunications 
services to other establishments in the telecommunications and 
broadcasting industries by forwarding and receiving communications 
signals via a system of satellites or reselling satellite 
telecommunications.'' Census Bureau data for 2007 show that 607 
Satellite Telecommunications establishments operated for that entire 
year. Of this total, 533 establishments had annual receipts of under 
$10 million or less, and 74 establishments had receipts of $10 million 
or more. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of 
Satellite Telecommunications firms are small entities that might be 
affected by our action.
    51. The second category, i.e., ``All Other Telecommunications,'' 
comprises ``establishments primarily engaged in providing specialized 
telecommunications services, such as satellite tracking, communications 
telemetry, and radar station operation. This industry also includes 
establishments primarily engaged in providing satellite terminal 
stations and associated facilities connected with one or more 
terrestrial systems and capable of transmitting telecommunications to, 
and receiving telecommunications from, satellite systems. 
Establishments providing Internet services or voice over Internet 
protocol (VoIP) services via client-supplied telecommunications 
connections are also included in this industry.'' For this category, 
Census data for 2007 shows that there were a

[[Page 70982]]

total of 2,639 establishments that operated for the entire year. Of 
those 2,639 establishments, 2,333 operated with annual receipts of less 
than $10 million and 306 with annual receipts of $10 million or more. 
Consequently, the Commission estimates that a majority of All Other 
Telecommunications establishments are small entities that might be 
affected by our action.
    52. Satellite Master Antenna Television (SMATV) Systems, also known 
as Private Cable Operators (PCOs). SMATV systems or PCOs are video 
distribution facilities that use closed transmission paths without 
using any public right-of-way. They acquire video programming and 
distribute it via terrestrial wiring in urban and suburban multiple 
dwelling units such as apartments and condominiums, and commercial 
multiple tenant units such as hotels and office buildings. SMATV 
systems or PCOs are now included in the SBA's broad economic census 
category, ``Wired Telecommunications Carriers,'' which was developed 
for small wireline firms. Under this category, the SBA deems a wireline 
business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census data 
for 2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that operated that 
year. Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more than 100 employees, and 
30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees. Thus, under this 
category and the associated small business size standard, the majority 
of such firms can be considered small.
    53. Home Satellite Dish (``HSD'') Service. HSD or the large dish 
segment of the satellite industry is the original satellite-to-home 
service offered to consumers, and involves the home reception of 
signals transmitted by satellites operating generally in the C-band 
frequency. Unlike DBS, which uses small dishes, HSD antennas are 
between four and eight feet in diameter and can receive a wide range of 
unscrambled (free) programming and scrambled programming purchased from 
program packagers that are licensed to facilitate subscribers' receipt 
of video programming. Because HSD provides subscription services, HSD 
falls within the SBA-recognized definition of ``Wired 
Telecommunications Carriers.'' The SBA has developed a small business 
size standard for this category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 
or fewer employees. Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996 
establishments that operated that year. Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated 
with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 
employees. Thus, under this category and the associated small business 
size standard, the majority of such firms can be considered small.
    54. Broadband Radio Service and Educational Broadband Service. 
Broadband Radio Service systems, previously referred to as Multipoint 
Distribution Service (MDS) and Multichannel Multipoint Distribution 
Service (MMDS) systems, and ``wireless cable,'' transmit video 
programming to subscribers and provide two-way high speed data 
operations using the microwave frequencies of the Broadband Radio 
Service (BRS) and Educational Broadband Service (EBS) (previously 
referred to as the Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS)). In 
connection with the 1996 BRS auction, the Commission established a 
small business size standard as an entity that had annual average gross 
revenues of no more than $40 million in the previous three calendar 
years. The BRS auctions resulted in 67 successful bidders obtaining 
licensing opportunities for 493 Basic Trading Areas (BTAs). Of the 67 
auction winners, 61 met the definition of a small business. BRS also 
includes licensees of stations authorized prior to the auction. At this 
time, we estimate that of the 61 small business BRS auction winners, 48 
remain small business licensees. In addition to the 48 small businesses 
that hold BTA authorizations, there are approximately 392 incumbent BRS 
licensees that are considered small entities. After adding the number 
of small business auction licensees to the number of incumbent 
licensees not already counted, we find that there are currently 
approximately 440 BRS licensees that are defined as small businesses 
under either the SBA or the Commission's rules. In 2009, the Commission 
conducted Auction 86, the sale of 78 licenses in the BRS areas. The 
Commission offered three levels of bidding credits: (i) A bidder with 
attributed average annual gross revenues that exceed $15 million and do 
not exceed $40 million for the preceding three years (small business) 
received a 15 percent discount on its winning bid; (ii) a bidder with 
attributed average annual gross revenues that exceed $3 million and do 
not exceed $15 million for the preceding three years (very small 
business) received a 25 percent discount on its winning bid; and (iii) 
a bidder with attributed average annual gross revenues that do not 
exceed $3 million for the preceding three years (entrepreneur) received 
a 35 percent discount on its winning bid. Auction 86 concluded in 2009 
with the sale of 61 licenses. Of the ten winning bidders, two bidders 
that claimed small business status won four licenses; one bidder that 
claimed very small business status won three licenses; and two bidders 
that claimed entrepreneur status won six licenses.
    55. In addition, the SBA's placement of Cable Television 
Distribution Services in the category of Wired Telecommunications 
Carriers is applicable to cable-based Educational Broadcasting 
Services. Since 2007, ``Wired Telecommunications Carriers'' have been 
defined as follows: ``This industry comprises establishments primarily 
engaged in operating and/or providing access to transmission facilities 
and infrastructure that they own and/or lease for the transmission of 
voice, data, text, sound, and video using wired telecommunications 
networks. Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology 
or a combination of technologies.'' Establishments in this industry use 
the wired telecommunications network facilities that they operate to 
provide a variety of services, such as wired telephony services, 
including VoIP services; wired (cable) audio and video programming 
distribution; and wired broadband Internet services. By exception, 
establishments providing satellite television distribution services 
using facilities and infrastructure that they operate are included in 
this industry. For these services, the Commission uses the SBA small 
business size standard for Wired Telecommunications Carriers, which is 
1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 2007 shows that there were 
31,996 establishments that operated that year. Of those 31,996, 1,818 
operated with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer 
than 100 employees. Thus, under this category and the associated small 
business size standard, the majority of such firms can be considered 
small. In addition to Census data, the Commission's internal records 
indicate that as of September 2012, there are 2,241 active EBS 
licenses. The Commission estimates that of these 2,241 licenses, the 
majority are held by non-profit educational institutions and school 
districts, which are by statute defined as small businesses.
    56. Fixed Microwave Services. Microwave services include common 
carrier, private-operational fixed, and broadcast auxiliary radio 
services. They also include the Local Multipoint Distribution Service 
(LMDS), the Digital Electronic Message Service (DEMS), and the 24 GHz 
Service, where licensees can choose between common carrier and non-
common carrier status. At present, there are approximately 31,428 
common

[[Page 70983]]

carrier fixed licensees and 79,732 private operational-fixed licensees 
and broadcast auxiliary radio licensees in the microwave services. 
There are approximately 120 LMDS licensees, three DEMS licensees, and 
three 24 GHz licensees. The Commission has not yet defined a small 
business with respect to microwave services. For purposes of the IRFA, 
we will use the SBA's definition applicable to Wireless 
Telecommunications Carriers (except satellite)--i.e., an entity with no 
more than 1,500 persons. Under the present and prior categories, the 
SBA has deemed a wireless business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer 
employees. For the category of ``Wireless Telecommunications Carriers 
(except Satellite),'' Census data for 2007 show that there were 11,163 
firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 10,791 firms 
had employment of 999 or fewer employees and 372 had employment of 
1,000 employees or more. Thus, under this category and the associated 
small business size standard, the majority of firms can be considered 
small. We note that the number of firms does not necessarily track the 
number of licensees. We estimate that virtually all of the Fixed 
Microwave licensees (excluding broadcast auxiliary licensees) would 
qualify as small entities under the SBA definition.
    57. Open Video Systems. The open video system (``OVS'') framework 
was established in 1996, and is one of four statutorily recognized 
options for the provision of video programming services by local 
exchange carriers. The OVS framework provides opportunities for the 
distribution of video programming other than through cable systems. 
Because OVS operators provide subscription services, OVS falls within 
the SBA small business size standard covering cable services, which is 
``Wired Telecommunications Carriers.'' The SBA has developed a small 
business size standard for this category, which is: all such firms 
having 1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 2007 shows that there 
were 31,996 establishments that operated that year. Of those 31,996, 
1,818 operated with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with 
fewer than 100 employees. Thus, under this category and the associated 
small business size standard, the majority of such firms can be 
considered small. In addition, we note that the Commission has 
certified some OVS operators, with some now providing service. 
Broadband service providers (``BSPs'') are currently the only 
significant holders of OVS certifications or local OVS franchises. The 
Commission does not have financial or employment information regarding 
the entities authorized to provide OVS, some of which may not yet be 
operational. Thus, at least some of the OVS operators may qualify as 
small entities.
    58. Cable and Other Subscription Programming. The Census Bureau 
defines this category as follows: ``This industry comprises 
establishments primarily engaged in operating studios and facilities 
for the broadcasting of programs on a subscription or fee basis. These 
establishments produce programming in their own facilities or acquire 
programming from external sources. The programming material is usually 
delivered to a third party, such as cable systems or direct-to-home 
satellite systems, for transmission to viewers.'' The SBA has developed 
a small business size standard for this category, which is: all such 
firms having $15 million dollars or less in annual revenues. To gauge 
small business prevalence in the Cable and Other Subscription 
Programming industries, the Commission relies on data currently 
available from the U.S. Census for the year 2007. Census Bureau data 
for 2007 show that there were 659 establishments in this category that 
operated for the entire year. Of that number, 462 operated with annual 
revenues of $9,999,999 million dollars or less. 197 operated with 
annual revenues of 10 million or more. Thus, under this category and 
associated small business size standard, the majority of firms can be 
considered small.
    59. Small Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers. We have included small 
incumbent local exchange carriers in this present RFA analysis. A 
``small business'' under the RFA is one that, inter alia, meets the 
pertinent small business size standard (e.g., a telephone 
communications business having 1,500 or fewer employees), and ``is not 
dominant in its field of operation.'' The SBA's Office of Advocacy 
contends that, for RFA purposes, small incumbent local exchange 
carriers are not dominant in their field of operation because any such 
dominance is not ``national'' in scope. We have therefore included 
small incumbent local exchange carriers in this RFA analysis, although 
we emphasize that this RFA action has no effect on Commission analyses 
and determinations in other, non-RFA contexts.
    60. Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (``LECs''). Neither the 
Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard 
specifically for incumbent local exchange services. The appropriate 
size standard under SBA rules is for the category ``Wired 
Telecommunications Carriers.'' Under that size standard, such a 
business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 
2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that operated that 
year. Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more than 100 employees, and 
30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees. Thus, under this 
category and the associated small business size standard, the majority 
of such firms can be considered small.
    61. Competitive Local Exchange Carriers, Competitive Access 
Providers (CAPs), ``Shared-Tenant Service Providers,'' and ``Other 
Local Service Providers.'' Neither the Commission nor the SBA has 
developed a small business size standard specifically for these service 
providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the 
category ``Wired Telecommunications Carriers.'' Under that size 
standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. 
Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that 
operated that year. Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more than 100 
employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees. Thus, 
under this category and the associated small business size standard, 
the majority of such firms can be considered small. Consequently, the 
Commission estimates that most providers of competitive local exchange 
service, competitive access providers, ``Shared-Tenant Service 
Providers,'' and ``Other Local Service Providers'' are small entities.
    62. Motion Picture and Video Production. The Census Bureau defines 
this category as follows: This industry comprises establishments 
primarily engaged in producing, or producing and distributing motion 
pictures, videos, television programs, or television commercials. We 
note that firms in this category may be engaged in various industries, 
including cable programming. Specific figures are not available 
regarding how many of these firms produce and/or distribute programming 
for cable television. The SBA has developed a small business size 
standard for this category, which is: all such firms having $29.5 
million dollars or less in annual revenues. To gauge small business 
prevalence in the Motion Picture and Video Production industries, the 
Commission relies on data currently available from the U.S. Census for 
the year 2007. Census Bureau data for 2007, which now supersede data 
from the 2002 Census, show that there were 9,095 firms in this category 
that operated for the entire year. Of

[[Page 70984]]

these, 8,995 had annual receipts of $24,999,999 or less, and 100 had 
annual receipts ranging from not less than $25,000,000 to $100,000,000 
or more. Thus, under this category and associated small business size 
standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.
    63. Motion Picture and Video Distribution. The Census Bureau 
defines this category as follows: ``This industry comprises 
establishments primarily engaged in acquiring distribution rights and 
distributing film and video productions to motion picture theaters, 
television networks and stations, and exhibitors.'' We note that firms 
in this category may be engaged in various industries, including cable 
programming. Specific figures are not available regarding how many of 
these firms produce and/or distribute programming for cable television. 
The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category, 
which is: All such firms having $29.5 million dollars or less in annual 
revenues. To gauge small business prevalence in the Motion Picture and 
Video Distribution industries, the Commission relies on data currently 
available from the U.S. Census for the year 2007. Census Bureau data 
for 2007, which now supersede data from the 2002 Census, show that 
there were 450 firms in this category that operated for the entire 
year. Of these, 434 had annual receipts of $24,999,999 or less, and 16 
had annual receipts ranging from not less than $25,000,000 to 
$100,000,000 or more. Thus, under this category and associated small 
business size standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.
    64. Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless Communications 
Equipment Manufacturing. The Census Bureau defines this category as 
follows: ``This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in 
manufacturing radio and television broadcast and wireless 
communications equipment. Examples of products made by these 
establishments are: transmitting and receiving antennas, cable 
television equipment, GPS equipment, pagers, cellular phones, mobile 
communications equipment, and radio and television studio and 
broadcasting equipment.'' The SBA has developed a small business size 
standard for Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless 
Communications Equipment Manufacturing, which is: all such firms having 
750 or fewer employees. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there 
were 919 establishments that operated for part or all of the entire 
year. Of those 919 establishments, 771 operated with 99 or fewer 
employees, and 148 operated with 100 or more employees. Thus, under 
that size standard, the majority of establishments can be considered 
small.
    65. Audio and Video Equipment Manufacturing. The SBA has classified 
the manufacturing of audio and video equipment under in NAICS Codes 
classification scheme as an industry in which a manufacturer is small 
if it has less than 750 employees. Data contained in the 2007 Economic 
Census indicate that 491 establishments in this category operated for 
part or all of the entire year. Of those 491 establishments, 456 
operated with 99 or fewer employees, and 35 operated with 100 or more 
employees. Thus, under the applicable size standard, a majority of 
manufacturers of audio and video equipment may be considered small.
4. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements
    66. Certain proposed rule changes discussed in the NPRM would 
affect reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements. In 
general, the NPRM proposes to satisfy the requirements of section 
202(a) of the CVAA with regard to making emergency information 
accessible to persons who are blind or visually impaired by mandating 
the use of a secondary audio stream to provide the emergency 
information aurally and concurrently with the emergency information 
being conveyed visually during non-news programming. The NPRM also 
makes certain proposals regarding apparatus requirements for emergency 
information and video description.
    67. Specifically, on the topic of apparatus requirements, the 
Commission proposes to permit parties to raise technical infeasibility 
as a defense to a complaint or, alternatively, to file a request for a 
ruling under Sec.  1.41 of the Commission's rules before manufacturing 
or importing the product. Similarly, the Commission proposes to permit 
a manufacturer to raise achievability as a defense to a complaint 
alleging a violation of section 203, or to seek a determination of 
achievability from the Commission before manufacturing or importing the 
apparatus. Further, the Commission proposes that a manufacturer may 
make a request for a Commission determination as to whether its 
apparatus is an exempt display-only video monitor, and that the 
Commission will make purpose-based waivers available prospectively and 
such waivers will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
    68. In the NPRM, the Commission also seeks comment on complaint 
filing for the proposed rules related both to access to emergency 
information and apparatus requirements for video description and 
emergency information.
5. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Impact on Small Entities and 
Significant Alternatives Considered
    69. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant 
alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, 
which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1) 
The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or 
timetables that take into account the resources available to small 
entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of 
compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; 
(3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an 
exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small 
entities.
    70. We emphasize at the outset that, although alternatives to 
minimize economic impact have been and are being considered as part of 
this proceeding, our proposals are governed by the congressional 
mandate contained in sections 202(a) and 203 of the CVAA. The NPRM 
seeks comment on whether any alternatives to the proposed use of the 
secondary audio stream would be preferable, and how the costs and 
benefits of any alternate proposals would compare to the costs and 
benefits of the proposed use of the secondary audio stream. Regarding 
accessible emergency information, the NPRM seeks comment on certain 
specified alternative approaches (for example, including a shortened 
audio version of the textual emergency information on the primary 
stream, or broadcasting a 5 to 10 second audio message after three 
high-pitched tones announcing the start of a textual message), and it 
additionally seeks comment on any additional alternatives that may 
become viable in the future (for example, ``dipping'' or lowering the 
main program audio and playing an aural message over the lowered audio, 
providing screen reader software or devices on request, enabling users 
to select and enlarge emergency crawl text, providing guidance for 
consumers, and using an Internet-based standardized application to 
filter emergency information by location). Regarding apparatus 
requirements for emergency information and video description, the NPRM 
proposes that parties may use alternate means of

[[Page 70985]]

compliance to the rules adopted pursuant to section 203 of the CVAA, 
and it proposes to address any specific requests from parties subject 
to new rules when they are presented to the Commission, rather than 
specifying what may constitute a permissible ``alternate means.'' 
Individual entities, including smaller entities, may benefit from this 
provision.
    71. Overall, in proposing rules governing accessible emergency 
information and apparatus requirements for emergency information and 
video description, we believe that we have appropriately considered 
both the interests of individuals who are blind or visually impaired 
and the interests of the entities who will be subject to the rules, 
including those that are smaller entities. Our efforts are consistent 
with Congress' goal of ``updat[ing] the communications laws to help 
ensure that individuals with disabilities are able to fully utilize 
communications services and equipment and better access video 
programming.''
6. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Proposed Rule
    72. None.

B. Paperwork Reduction Act

    73. This document contains proposed new or modified information 
collection requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing 
effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the 
Office of Management and Budget (``OMB'') to comment on the information 
collection requirements contained in this document, as required by the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Public Law 104-13. In addition, 
pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 
107-198, we seek specific comment on how we might ``further reduce the 
information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer 
than 25 employees.'' 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

C. Ex Parte Rules

    74. Permit-But-Disclose. The proceeding this NPRM initiates shall 
be treated as a ``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in accordance with 
the Commission's ex parte rules. 47 CFR 1.1200 et seq. Persons making 
ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or 
a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days 
after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the 
Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations 
are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list 
all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at 
which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data 
presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the 
presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data 
or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, 
memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide 
citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, 
memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or 
paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of 
summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to 
Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex 
parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule Sec.  
1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule Sec.  1.49(f) or for which 
the Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, 
written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte 
presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the 
electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and 
must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, 
searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize 
themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

D. Filing Requirements

    75. Comments and Replies. Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of 
the Commission's rules, interested parties may file comments and reply 
comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this 
document. 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419. Comments may be filed using the 
Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (``ECFS''). See 
Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 
(1998).
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket 
or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number.

    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial 
overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service 
mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, 
Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

     All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings 
for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 
445 12th Street SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing 
hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held 
together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must 
be disposed of before entering the building.
     Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton 
Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    76. Availability of Documents. Comments, reply comments, and ex 
parte submissions will be available for public inspection during 
regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Federal 
Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, 
Washington, DC 20554. These documents will also be available via ECFS. 
Documents will be available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, 
and/or Adobe Acrobat.
    77. People with Disabilities. 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 FCC's 
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), 
(202) 418-0432 (TTY).
    78. Additional Information. For additional information on this 
proceeding, contact Diana Sokolow, Diana.Sokolow@fcc.gov, or Maria 
Mullarkey, Maria.Mullarkey@fcc.gov, of the Media Bureau, Policy 
Division, (202) 418-2120.

V. Ordering Clauses

    79. Accordingly, it is ordered that pursuant to the Twenty-First 
Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Public Law 
111-260, 124 Stat. 2751, and the authority found in sections 4(i), 
4(j), 303(u) and (z), 330(b), and 713(g), of the Communications Act of 
1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 154(j), 303(u) and (z), 330(b), and 
613(g), this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Is Adopted.
    80. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference

[[Page 70986]]

Information Center, shall send a copy of this Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to 
the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 79

    Cable television operators, Communications equipment, Multichannel 
video programming distributors (MVPDs), Satellite television service 
providers, Television broadcasters.

Federal Communications Commission.
Bulah P. Wheeler,
Associate Secretary.

Proposed Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 79 as follows:

PART 79--CLOSED CAPTIONING AND VIDEO DESCRIPTION OF VIDEO 
PROGRAMMING

    1. The authority citation for part 79 will continue to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 151, 152(a), 154(i), 303, 307, 309, 310, 
330, 544a, 613, 617.

    2. Amend Sec.  79.2 by revising paragraphs (b)(1)(ii), (b)(1)(iii), 
and (b)(3)(ii) to read as follows:


Sec.  79.2  Accessibility of programming providing emergency 
information.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) Emergency information that is provided visually during a 
regularly scheduled newscast, or newscast that interrupts regular 
programming, must be made accessible to persons with visual 
disabilities; and
    (iii) Emergency information that is provided visually during 
programming that is not a regularly scheduled newscast, or a newscast 
that interrupts regular programming, must be accompanied with an aural 
tone, and beginning [DATES TO BE DETERMINED] must be made accessible to 
persons with visual disabilities through the use of a secondary audio 
stream to provide the emergency information aurally.
* * * * *
    (3) * * *
    (ii) Any video description provided should not block any emergency 
information.
* * * * *
    3. Add Sec.  79.105 to read as follows:


Sec.  79.105  Video description and emergency information decoder 
requirements for all apparatus.

    (a) Effective [DATES TO BE DETERMINED], all apparatus designed to 
receive or play back video programming transmitted simultaneously with 
sound that is part of a broadcast or multichannel video programming 
distributor service, if such apparatus is manufactured in the United 
States or imported for use in the United States and uses a picture 
screen of any size, must have the capability to decode and make 
available the following services, if technically feasible, unless 
otherwise provided herein:
    (1) The transmission and delivery of video description services as 
described in Sec.  79.3; and
    (2) Emergency information in a manner that is accessible to 
individuals who are blind or visually impaired as described in Sec.  
79.2.
    Note to paragraph (a): Apparatus includes the physical device and 
the video players that manufacturers install into the devices they 
manufacture before sale, whether in the form of hardware, software, or 
a combination of both, as well as any video players that manufacturers 
direct consumers to install after sale.
    (b) Exempt apparatus--(1) Display-only monitors. Apparatus or class 
of apparatus that are display-only video monitors with no playback 
capability are not required to comply with the provisions of this 
section.
    (2) Professional or commercial equipment. Apparatus or class of 
apparatus that are professional or commercial equipment not typically 
used by the public are not required to comply with the provisions of 
this section.
    (3)(i) Achievable. Manufacturers of apparatus that use a picture 
screen of less than 13 inches in size may petition the Commission for a 
full or partial exemption from the video description and emergency 
information requirements of this section pursuant to Sec.  1.41 of this 
chapter, which the Commission may grant upon a finding that the 
requirements of this section are not achievable, or may assert that 
such apparatus is fully or partially exempt as a response to a 
complaint, which the Commission may dismiss upon a finding that the 
requirements of this section are not achievable.
    (ii) The petitioner or respondent must support a petition for 
exemption or a response to a complaint with sufficient evidence to 
demonstrate that compliance with the requirements of this section is 
not ``achievable'' where ``achievable'' means with reasonable effort or 
expense. The Commission will consider the following factors when 
determining whether the requirements of this section are not 
``achievable:''
    (A) The nature and cost of the steps needed to meet the 
requirements of this section with respect to the specific equipment or 
service in question;
    (B) The technical and economic impact on the operation of the 
manufacturer or provider and on the operation of the specific equipment 
or service in question, including on the development and deployment of 
new communications technologies;
    (C) The type of operations of the manufacturer or provider; and
    (D) The extent to which the service provider or manufacturer in 
question offers accessible services or equipment containing varying 
degrees of functionality and features, and offered at differing price 
points.
    (4) Waiver. Manufacturers of apparatus may petition the Commission 
for a full or partial waiver of the requirements of this section, which 
the Commission may grant upon a finding that the apparatus meets one of 
the following provisions:
    (i) The apparatus is primarily designed for activities other than 
receiving or playing back video programming transmitted simultaneously 
with sound; or
    (ii) The apparatus is designed for multiple purposes, capable of 
receiving or playing back video programming transmitted simultaneously 
with sound but whose essential utility is derived from other purposes.
    4. Add Sec.  79.106 to read as follows:


Sec.  79.106  Video description and emergency information decoder 
requirements for recording devices.

    (a) Effective [DATES TO BE DETERMINED], all apparatus designed to 
record video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound that is 
part of a broadcast or multichannel video programming distributor 
service, if such apparatus is manufactured in the United States or 
imported for use in the United States, must comply with the provisions 
of this section except that apparatus must only do so if it is 
achievable as defined in Sec.  79.105(b)(3).
    Note to paragraph (a): Apparatus includes the physical device and 
the video players that manufacturers install into the devices they 
manufacture before sale, whether in the form of hardware, software, or 
a combination of both, as well as any video players that manufacturers 
direct consumers to install after sale.
    (b) All apparatus subject to this section must enable the rendering 
or the

[[Page 70987]]

pass through of video description signals and emergency information (as 
that term is defined in Sec.  79.2) such that viewers are able to 
activate and de-activate the video description as the video programming 
is played back on a picture screen of any size.

[FR Doc. 2012-28716 Filed 11-27-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P