[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 103 (Thursday, May 29, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 30788-30790]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-12511]


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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.

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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 
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: Eric Ehrenreich, Policy and Licensing 
Division, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, at (202) 418-1726 
or Eric.Ehrenreich@fcc.gov.

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=.

Synopsis

    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.  
90.242(b)(8).

I. Background

    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

[[Page 30789]]

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.''

II. Discussion

    6. We now seek comment on NAB's proposal and related comments. 
Specifically, we seek more detailed comments with respect to the 
following issues:
    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 
stations.
    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 
existing rule.
    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 
rules.
    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?

[[Page 30790]]

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 
filing comments.
    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 
rulemaking number.
    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 fcc504@fcc.gov or call the 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-
418-0432 (tty).
    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 fcc@bcpiweb.com. The 
public may also download this Public Notice from the Commission's Web 
site at http://www.fcc.gov/.

Federal Communications Commission.
Zenji Nakazawa,
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