[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 60 (Friday, March 28, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 17490-17493]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-06444]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 11

[EB Docket No. 04-296; DA 14-336]


Comment Requested To Refresh the Record in EB Docket No. 04-296, 
on Petition Filed By the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council 
Proposing Changes to Emergency Alert System Rules To Support 
Multilingual Alerting and Emergency Information

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: In this document the Federal Communication Commission's 
(Commission) Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB), under 
authority delegated by the Commission, seeks to refresh the record in 
EB Docket No. 04-296 on issues raised in a Petition for Immediate 
Interim Relief (Petition) filed by the Independent Spanish Broadcasters 
Association, the Office of Communications of the United Church of 
Christ, Inc., and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council 
(hereinafter collectively or individually referred to as ``MMTC''), 
regarding the ability of non-English speakers to access emergency 
information and similar multilingual issues. The Commission initially 
sought comment on the petition in the Commission's First EAS Report and 
Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (First R&O and FNPRM in 
EB Docket 04-296, and subsequently sought comment on the petition in 
the Commission's Second EAS Report and Order and Further Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking (Second R&O and FNPRM), in that docket. MMTC also 
has expanded upon the petition in subsequent ex parte filings before 
the Commission.

DATES: The notices of proposed rulemaking published November 25, 2005 
(70 FR 71072), and November 2, 2007 (72 FR 62195), are reopened. 
Comments are due on or before April 28, 2014 and reply comments are due 
on or before May 12, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by EB Docket No. 04-296 
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 Commission 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. For detailed instructions for 
submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking 
process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.
    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 should 
be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554.
    To request materials in accessible formats for people with 
disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), 
send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental 
Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa M. Fowlkes, Deputy Bureau Chief, 
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at (202) 418-7452 or by 
email: lisa.fowlkes@fcc.gov; Gregory M. Cooke, Associate Chief, Policy 
Division, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at (202) 418-2351 
or by email: gregory.cooke@fcc.gov; or David Munson, Policy Division, 
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at (202) 418-2921 or by 
email: david.munson@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Federal 
Communication Commission's document in EB Docket No. 04-296, DA 14-336, 
released on March 11, 2014. This document is available to the public at 
http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2014/db0311/DA-14-336A1.pdf.

Synopsis of This Document

    1. In this document, PSHSB seeks to refresh the record in EB Docket 
No. 04-296 on various proposals and issues first raised in the MMTC 
Petition and expanded upon in subsequent ex parte filings, regarding 
the ability of non-English speakers to access emergency information and 
similar multilingual issues, both within and outside of the EAS 
context. As explained below, the Commission has sought comment on the 
Petition in this Docket originally in 2005 and subsequently in 2007.

I. Background

    2. MMTC filed its Petition on September 22, 2005, in response to 
its perceived deficiencies in distributing multilingual emergency 
information in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In its Petition, 
MMTC proposed that the Commission revise its EAS rules, 47 CFR 11.1, et 
seq. to: (i) ``provide that Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations air all 
Presidential level messages in both English and in Spanish''; '' 
include a [`]Local Primary Spanish' (`LP-S') designation and provide 
that state and local EAS plans would designate an LP-S station in each 
of the local areas in which an LP-1 has been designated''; ``include a 
Local Primary Multilingual (`LP-M') designation in local areas where a 
substantial proportion of the population has its primary fluency in a 
language other than English or Spanish''; ``provide that at least one

[[Page 17491]]

broadcast station in every market would monitor and rebroadcast 
emergency information carried by local LP-S and LP-M stations''; and 
``specify that if during an emergency a local LP-S or LP-M station 
loses its transmission capability, stations remaining on the air should 
broadcast emergency information in affected languages (at least as part 
of their broadcasts) until the affected LP-S or LP-M station is 
restored to the air.''
    3. In November of 2005, the Commission released its EAS First 
Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (First EAS 
R& O and FNPRM) in EB Docket No. 04-296, 70 FR 71072, November 25, 
2005, in which the Commission sought petition and incorporated it into 
the docket. Subsequently, in 2007, the Commission released its Second 
EAS Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in EB 
Docket No. 04-296, 72 FR 62195, November 2, 2007, in which it sought 
further comment on the petition.
    4. In various ex parte filings, MMTC has further expanded upon the 
Petition, most recently in a December 12, 2013 filing, in MMTC stated 
that the Commission should require ``broadcasters to work together, and 
with state and market counterparts, to develop a plan that communicates 
each party's responsibility based on likely contingencies.'' 
Specifically, MMTC stated, ``Such a plan could be modeled after the 
current EAS structure that could include a ``designated hitter'' 
approach to identify which stations would step in to broadcast 
multilingual information if the original non-English speaking station 
was knocked off air in the wake of a disaster.'' MMTC added, ``One 
market plan might spell out the procedures by which non-English 
broadcasters can get physical access to another station's facilities to 
alert the non-English speaking community--e.g. where to pick up the key 
to the station, who has access to the microphones, how often 
multilingual information will be aired, and what constitutes best 
efforts to contact the non-English broadcasters during and after an 
emergency if personnel are unable to travel to the designated hitter 
station.'' To ensure accountability, MMTC proposed that broadcasters 
should be required to certify, on their license renewal application, 
their understanding of their role in the plan.

II. Discussion

A. MMTC's Proposals

    5. The Commission seeks comment on MMTC's proposal, particularly as 
related to its December 12, 2013, ex parte filing, in which it 
suggested that broadcast stations within any given market be required 
to enter into emergency communications plans to support each other in 
the case of an emergency. MMTC believes that such a requirement would 
ensure that non-English speaking populations receive timely access to 
both EAS alerts and non-EAS emergency information. Is that correct? Are 
there other benefits? Drawbacks? How would such a requirement be 
implemented? For example, should it be prescriptive or should the 
requirement specify minimum standards to be included in emergency 
communications plans? What would be the costs of such a requirement?
    6. If the Commission adopts MMTC's proposal, what would be the 
appropriate scope of such a requirement? For example, should such a 
requirement only apply in states or markets where there is at least one 
licensed broadcast station that serves non-English speaking 
populations? Alternatively, should it apply in any state that has 
sizeable populations that do not speak English as a primary language, 
irrespective of whether there is a broadcast station offering 
programming in those populations' primary languages? If so, what 
population size should trigger the requirement? In addition, should 
this requirement only apply in states that are more susceptible to 
certain types of events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes? 
Are there other limitations or applications of this requirement that 
the Commission should consider?
    7. The Commission also seeks data and information on the extent to 
which emergency communications plans similar to that proposed by MMTC 
are already in existence. Are there any markets where such plans 
currently exist? If so, how are these plans implemented? Do such plans 
involve only broadcasters or do they involve other types of 
communications service providers as well? Are state and/or local 
governments included? To what extent do these plans involve markets 
served by at least one broadcast station that broadcasts in languages 
other than English? In such cases, do these agreements address how the 
EAS and emergency information needs of populations who do not speak 
English are served if the station(s) that serve them are knocked off 
the air during an emergency? If so, how? What has been the experience, 
including the costs associated, with such plans?
    8. In its Petition and various ex parte filings, MMTC has advocated 
for what it calls a ``designated hitter'' approach in which designated 
stations in a given market would agree to air EAS alerts and non-EAS 
emergency information in the language of a non-English station if the 
latter station is rendered inoperable during an emergency. Is there any 
market where broadcast stations have implemented this approach? If so, 
have any stations actually performed the ``designated hitter'' 
function? The Commission seeks information and comment on the 
experiences of both broadcast stations in that scenario. The Commission 
also seeks comment on the consumer experience. For example, how are 
non-English speaking populations in the market informed to turn to the 
designated hitter station in such circumstances?
    9. In the past, broadcast stakeholders have raised concerns that 
MMTC's designated hitter proposal would require broadcasters to retain 
personnel who could translate emergency information in the language of 
the downed station. MMTC has responded to these concerns by arguing 
that designated hitter stations could simply allow access to the 
employees of the downed non-English station. The Commission seeks 
updated comment on this view as well as specific cost information on 
the designated hitter proposal.
    10. Finally, the Commission seeks updated comment and information 
on MMTC's other proposed changes to the EAS rules, as set forth in its 
Petition, particularly given the EAS's transition to CAP. For example, 
the Commission seeks updated comment on the feasibility of requiring 
that PEP stations deliver Presidential alerts in both English and 
Spanish. Have there been technical or other developments that would 
affect the feasibility for FEMA or the PEPs to provide a simultaneous 
translation of an EAS Presidential alert? Could any other entity 
provide translations of the Presidential audio while the EAN was in 
effect? Could automatic translation software or devices be used to 
provide non-English translation of a Presidential alert?
    11. What about for non-Presidential EAS alerts? In previous 
comments, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Association 
For Maximum Service Television, Inc., asked how on-air stations would 
obtain non-English EAS content from non-English speaking LP-S or LP-M 
stations. Have there been any technical developments that would affect 
who would be responsible for the initial translation of the alert? 
Broadcast and cable industry representatives and EAS equipment 
manufacturers previously have maintained that

[[Page 17492]]

responsibility for issuing multilingual alerts must rest with alert 
message originators, and that it would be impractical for EAS 
Participants to effect timely and accurate alert translations at their 
facilities. Is this still the case?
    12. In addition, the National Cable and Telecommunications 
Association (NCTA) has pointed out that under the EAS architecture a 
non-Presidential alert is limited to two minutes and that EAS equipment 
is programmed to reject duplicative alerts. According to NCTA, if 
MMTC's proposal were to be adopted, and alert originators sent out 
multiple non-English two-minute alerts, EAS Participants' equipment 
would reject all but the original alert as a duplicate. Thus, according 
to NCTA, under the current EAS architecture, a translation of a given 
alert, along with the English language version, would both have to fit 
within one two-minute timeframe, a result that would greatly reduce the 
amount of the substantive information that the alert could convey and 
thus diminish the effectiveness of the EAS overall. Is this the case?
    13. On a more general basis, would implementing MMTC's proposals be 
compatible with the EAS architecture contemplated by the Commission's 
Fifth Report and Order in EB Docket No. 04-296, 77 FR 16688, March 22, 
2012, wherein the broadcast-based EAS and the CAP-based EAS are both 
integrated into FEMA's IPAWS? Are there other changes to the 
Commission's EAS rules, beyond those proposed in MMTC's Petition that 
would be required to implement MMTC's original proposals? What would be 
the costs and benefits of such rule changes?

B. Alternative Approaches for Multilingual Alerting

    14. In the EAS First Report and Order, the Commission sought 
``comment on any other proposals regarding how to best alert non-
English speakers.'' The Commission now seeks to refresh the record on 
potential avenues different from the one proposed by MMTC that would 
accomplish the same objective. Is one potential approach for the 
Commission to require that this issue be addressed as part of state EAS 
plans? As noted above, MMTC's proposal is intended, in part, to ensure 
that non-English speaking populations have access to timely and 
accurate alerts and other emergency communications before, during, and 
after a disaster. Would incorporating its latest proposal into the 
Commission's existing state EAS plan rules meet this objective? Under 
this approach, broadcasters and other EAS Participants would not be 
subject to a separate planning requirement. In addition, incorporating 
this requirement into the state EAS plan rules would ensure that this 
issue is addressed in a manner consistent with other parts of a state's 
overall EAS planning. The Commission seeks comment on this view and the 
perception that this approach is a reasonable path forward. Are there 
any drawbacks to this approach? Commenters arguing in favor or against 
the reasonableness of this approach should provide substantive and 
compelling information regarding burdens or the effectiveness of a 
requirement to include minority broadcast alert contingency planning 
within state plans.
    15. If the Commission requires that multilingual alerting be 
addressed in state EAS plans, should the Commission continue to use the 
current standard for accountability? MMTC recommends that the 
Commission require broadcasters to certify in their license renewal 
applications that they understand their role under these communications 
plans. The Commission seek comment on this proposal.

C. Other Issues Raised by the MMTC Petition

    16. In addition to refreshing the record on MMTC's proposal and 
other potential avenues to address, the Commission seeks to refresh the 
record on the current state of multilingual EAS alerts, and other 
possible solutions by which the Commission could facilitate 
multilingual EAS alerts. For example, the Commission seeks information 
on the extent to which EAS alerts are aired in languages other than 
English. The Commission understands that Florida regularly issues 
Spanish language alerts in parallel with English language alerts and 
has designated three Spanish Local Primary stations in its EAS plan. 
The Commission seeks more detailed information on how this works. What 
other jurisdictions have engaged in similar approaches? To what extent 
are EAS Participants able to translate English EAS alerts into other 
languages?
    17. The Commission also seeks comment on the extent to which CAP-
based alerting systems have been deployed, particularly at the state 
level, since the Commission first required EAS Participants to have the 
capability to receive CAP-based EAS alerts in 2007, and the 
multilingual alerting capabilities of these systems. For example, to 
what extent have states with CAP-based alerting systems issued EAS 
alerts in more than one language? In what languages, other than 
English, have CAP-based EAS alerts been issued? Is there a translation 
tool optimized for CAP-based alerting systems? What are the costs and 
benefits to jurisdictions that have implemented these CAP-based 
alerting systems? What about state, tribal, local and territorial 
governments that do not have CAP-based alerting systems?
    18. The Commission seeks data and information on the advancement of 
possible technical solutions for multilingual alerting since 2007. For 
example, to what extent can text-to-speech technologies be used to 
provide multilingual EAS alerts? What examples, if any, exist of text-
to-speech capabilities being used to provide EAS alerts in multiple 
languages? What is the status of other translation technologies? Do 
these technologies produce accurate versions of the original? Are they 
clear and understandable? What are the costs and benefits for use of 
this technology?
    19. Finally, are there other technologies that are currently being 
developed that could be used to transmit EAS alerts in multiple 
languages? The Commission seeks data on these technologies, including 
their functionality and accuracy rate as well as their costs and 
benefits.

IV. Procedural Matters

A. Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    20. The EAS First R&O and FNPRM and Second R&O and FNPRM both 
included Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analyses (IRFA) pursuant to 5 
U.S.C. 603, exploring the potential impact on small entities of the 
Commission's proposals. The Commission invites parties to file comments 
on the IRFAs in light of this additional document.

B. Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

    21. This document seeks comment on a potential new or revised 
information collection requirement. If the Commission adopts any new or 
revised information collection requirement, the Commission will publish 
a separate document in the Federal Register inviting the public to 
comment on the requirement, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995, Public Law 104-13 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). In addition, pursuant 
to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, 
44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), the Commission seeks specific comment on how it 
might ``further reduce the information collection burden for small 
business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.''

[[Page 17493]]

C. Ex Parte Presentations

    22. This proceeding has been designated 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 Sec.  1.1206(b). 
In proceedings governed by 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. Comment Filing Procedures

    23. Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 
47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply 
comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this 
document. All comments and reply comments should reference this 
document and EB Docket No. 04-296. Comments may be filed using the 
Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic 
Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121, May 1, 
1998.
    24. Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using 
the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
    25. 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.
    26. 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.
    27. All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the 
Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 
12th St. 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.
    28. 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.
    29. U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail 
must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    30. 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 
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice) or 
(202) 418-0432 (tty).
    31. Copies of the Petition and any subsequently filed documents in 
EB Docket No. 04-296 are available for public inspection and copying 
during business hours at the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals 
II, 445 12th St. SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. The documents 
may also be purchased from BCPI, telephone (202) 488-5300, facsimile 
(202) 488-5563, TTY (202) 488-5562, email fcc@bcpiweb.com.
    32. For further information regarding this proceeding, please 
contact Lisa M. Fowlkes, Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and 
Homeland Security Bureau at (202) 418-7452 or by email: 
lisa.fowlkes@fcc.gov; Gregory M. Cooke, Associate Chief, Policy 
Division, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at (202) 418-2351 
or by email: gregory.cooke@fcc.gov; or David Munson, Policy Division, 
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at (202) 418-2921 or by 
email: david.munson@fcc.gov.

Federal Communications Commission.
David G. Simpson,
Rear Admiral, USN (Ret.), Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security 
Bureau.
[FR Doc. 2014-06444 Filed 3-27-14; 8:45 am]
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