[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 103 (Thursday, May 29, 2014)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-12511]
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
47 CFR Part 90
[PS Docket No. 09-19; DA 14-508]
Audio Filtering Requirement for Travelers' Information Stations
AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.
ACTION: Request for Comments.
SUMMARY: In this document, the Commission seeks comment on a proposal
filed by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) that would
relax but not eliminate certain of the Commission's rules which require
the filtering of Travelers' Information Stations (TIS) audio
frequencies between 3 and 20 kHz.
DATES: Comments are due on or before June 30, 2014 and reply comments
are due on or before July 14, 2014.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by PS Docket No. 09-19
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Consumer & Governmental
Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric Ehrenreich, Policy and Licensing
Division, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, at (202) 418-1726
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the document in PS
Docket No. 09-19, DA 14-508, released on April 16, 2014. This document
is available to the public at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/Query.do?numberFld=14-508&numberFld2=&docket=&dateFld=&docTitleDesc=.
1. By this document we seek comment on a proposal filed by the
National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) that would relax but not
eliminate Sec. 90.242(b)(8) of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR.
90.242(b)(8). This rule section requires the filtering of Travelers'
Information Stations (TIS) audio frequencies between 3 and 20 kHz. NAB
filed its proposal by way of reply comments to a Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), which proposed elimination of Sec.
2. Following the Commission's adoption of a 2010 Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (NPRM) that sought comment on various TIS issues, numerous
commenters asserted that the TIS filtering requirement decreases the
audibility of TIS broadcasts, especially at night and over difficult
terrain. Because the filtering issue was not raised in the NPRM but
rather was introduced for the first time by commenters in the record,
the Commission sought further comment on the issue in the FNPRM, asking
whether this requirement should be eliminated. The Commission received
nine comments and four reply comments in response to the FNPRM. All
commenters, save two, support elimination of the filtering requirement.
In addition, many commenters, while supporting this elimination, oppose
any mandates to require filter removal or to recertify TIS transmitters
as a result of the filter removal.
3. The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) and NAB submitted
comments opposing removal of the TIS filtering restriction. SBE states
that ``[w]hile it is correct that removal of the filtering . . . would
improve the audio quality of a TIS transmission, this would be
accomplished by a secondary spectrum user at the cost of harmful
interference to adjacent channel AM Broadcast station reception.''
4. Although NAB submitted comments opposing removal of the
filtering requirement, it also noted that ``a compromise approach may
be workable.'' Specifically, NAB states that ``a filter capable of
filtering audio frequencies above 5 kHz should allow for a TIS signal
of sufficiently higher quality, without impeding neighboring AM
services.'' NAB notes that ``full-power AM radio stations routinely use
5 kHz filters to address and prevent interference among AM stations,
with few significant problems.'' NAB tempers
its proposal by noting that SBE states that ``broadcast engineers have
observed that some TIS broadcasts contain musical content in the form
of segues and other enhancements.'' NAB states that ``[m]usical content
requires wider bandwidth that may not be successfully dealt with by a 5
kHz filter.'' Thus, NAB argues that ``a 5 kHz filter may not be
adequate if TIS stations continue broadcasting musical content contrary
to Commission rules.'' Accordingly, NAB ``offers a proposal to allow
TIS operators to use a 5 kHz filter, presuming TIS stations broadcast
only voice content, as required under the Commission's rules.''
5. AAIRO responds that it ``can . . . support the compromise
proposed by the National Association of Broadcasters, . . .'' because
``[t]he wider filter bandpass would markedly improve TIS voice
transmissions and would also protect adjacent broadcasters should a TIS
operator transmit non-voice material without authorization.'' AAIRO
further submits that if: a wider bandwidth filter may be substituted in
place of the present 3-kHz filter . . . the filter [should] be outboard
to the TIS transmitter and immediately ahead of its audio input. The
FCC should prescribe the exact formula for the audio filter and require
its use by all TIS operations--new or existing--whose 3-kHz filters
have been deactivated. AAIRO suggests the use of the same roll-off
curve presently used in the 3-kHz filter, as it has proven to be
adequate during the 30+ years of the TIS service's existence. The use
of an outboard filter will streamline the timeline to improve the
service and dramatically lower costs for existing operators who would
otherwise be required to purchase new transmitters or have their
present transmitters modified and recertified.''
6. We now seek comment on NAB's proposal and related comments.
Specifically, we seek more detailed comments with respect to the
7. Elimination Versus Relaxation of TIS Filtering Requirement.
Rather than eliminate the TIS filtering requirement, as proposed in the
FNPRM, is the public interest better served by NAB's proposal, as
endorsed by AAIRO, which would relax the filter requirement from 3 kHz
to 5 kHz? Is NAB correct that ``a filter capable of filtering audio
frequencies above 5 kHz should allow for a TIS signal of sufficiently
higher quality, without impeding neighboring AM services''? Or, would
improved audio quality of a TIS transmission come at the cost of
harmful interference to adjacent channel AM Broadcast station
reception? On what basis should the Commission make this determination?
Are there any compelling reasons why the Commission should not adopt
the NAB proposal?
8. We also invite comment on any other measures that could both
improve the intelligibility of TIS and provide adequate measures to
protect adjacent channel stations from harmful interference. SBE
contends that many TIS stations fail to adhere to generally accepted
modulation standards employed by AM broadcasters, which could result in
poor audio quality. In this regard, we seek comment on the state of
licensee compliance with TIS modulation rules, and if compliance is
lacking, how it could be improved. We also seek comment on whether and
how the Commission could revise its TIS modulation rules as part of a
solution to improve audio intelligibility and protect adjacent channel
9. Revision of Operational Requirements. The current rule requires
that at audio frequencies between 3 kHz and 20 kHz, the filter ``shall
have an attenuation greater than the attenuation at 1 kHz by at least:
60 log10(f/3) decibels, where `f' is the audio frequency in
kHz.'' At audio frequencies above 20 kHz, the attenuation shall be at
least 50 decibels greater than the attenuation at 1 kHz. This produces
a roll-off curve that starts at 0 dB attenuation for 3 kHz, then
increases attenuation to approximately 50 dB at 20 kHz. AAIRO suggests
that the Commission should use ``the same roll-off curve presently used
in the 3-kHz filter'' for a 5-kHz filter. However, if we slide this
curve up in frequency to have 0 dB attenuation at 5 kHz but maintain
the same slope, then the curve would attenuate signals only by 36 dB at
20 kHz. We seek comment on whether 36 dB attenuation at 20 kHz would be
sufficient or whether the roll-off curve for a 5 kHz audio filter in a
TIS system should have 50 dB attenuation at 20 kHz, consistent with the
10. Staff determined that a roll-off curve of 83
log10(f/5) decibels for frequencies between 5 kHz and 20 kHz
would have 0 dB attenuation at the 5-kHz starting point, and would
achieve 50 dB attenuation at 20 kHz. However, this is a steeper roll-
off curve than the formula prescribed in the current rule. We seek
comment on whether the Commission should impose this attenuation if the
Commission decides to relax the filtering requirement from 3 kHz to 5
kHz. We also seek comment on whether affordable audio filters exist in
the marketplace that satisfy this roll-off curve, or whether equipment
manufacturers could retrofit existing filters or economically design,
manufacture, and market such filters in the near term. We also seek
comment on the general availability of 5 kHz audio filters in the
marketplace, the roll-off curves of specific models, and whether,
alternatively, we should impose one of those roll-off curves in our
11. Revision of Filter Placement Requirements. The current rule
requires that ``[e]ach transmitter in a Travelers Information Station
shall be equipped with an audio low-pass filter [that] shall be
installed between the modulation limiter and the modulated stage.''
However, as noted above, AAIRO suggests that ``the [replacement] filter
[should] be outboard to the TIS transmitter and immediately ahead of
its audio input.'' Given this difference in the placement of the
filter, we seek comment on the feasibility of AAIRO's suggestion and
whether to require such configuration in our rules in the event that
the Commission relaxes the filter requirement.
12. Certification. As indicated above, many commenters who support
elimination of the filtering requirement also request that no
recertification requirement accompany such change. Accordingly, we seek
comment on whether audio filter elimination/replacement and AAIRO's
foregoing suggestion regarding filter placement would either: (1)
constitute a change to TIS transmitters that requires recertification;
(2) constitute a permissive change in certificated equipment that does
not require recertification; or (3) be exempt from the Commission's
equipment authorization rules. Commenters should provide evidence to
support their arguments.
13. Should Any Change in the Filtering Requirement be Mandatory?
Finally, whether the Commission either relaxes or eliminates the TIS
filtering requirement, should it also require filter replacement or
removal, respectively, for existing licensees? Many commenters who
support elimination of the filtering requirement also request that such
elimination be made optional, at the discretion of individual
licensees. To what extent, if any, would such a requirement present an
undue financial burden? Is AAIRO correct that a mandatory replacement
or removal requirement would likely cause most TIS Services to cease
operation due to expense and logistics? On the other hand, are there
compelling counter-reasons, to require filter removal or replacement
rather than leave it to the discretion of TIS licensees?
III. Procedural Matters
A. Ex Parte Presentations
14. 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.
B. Comment Filing Procedures
15. Interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or
before the dates indicated on the first page of this document.
Interested parties may file comments using: (1) The Commission's
Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), or (2) by filing paper copies.
See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR
24121 (1998). Commenters should refer to docket number 09-19 when
16. Electronic Filers: Interested parties may file comments
electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs2.
17. 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
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail
must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554.
22. People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible
formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic
files, audio format), send an email to email@example.com or call the
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-
23. Interested parties may view documents filed in this proceeding
on the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) using the
following steps: (1) Access ECFS at http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs. (2) In
the introductory screen, click on ``Search for Filings.'' (3) In the
``Proceeding Number'' box, enter the numerals in the docket number. (4)
Click on the box marked ``Search for Comments.'' A link to each
document is provided in the document list. The public may inspect and
copy filings and comments during regular business hours at the FCC
Reference Information Center, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257,
Washington, DC 20554. The public may also purchase filings and comments
from the Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing,
Inc., Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC
20554, telephone 1-800-378-3160, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The
public may also download this Public Notice from the Commission's Web
site at http://www.fcc.gov/.
Federal Communications Commission.
Deputy Division Chief, Policy and Licensing Division, Public Safety and
Homeland Security Bureau.
[FR Doc. 2014-12511 Filed 5-28-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P