In an Order released Friday, The FCC gave TV broadcasters five more years to convert non-textual emergency information delivered to audiences outside of news programs into speech that is broadcast on station’s Secondary Audio Programming (“SAP”) channels, usually used for Spanish and other non-English translations of television programs. Broadcasters, as we have written before
text to speech
FCC Requests Comments on Extension of Compliance Deadline for TV Stations to Convert Non-Textual Emergency Information into Audio on SAP Channel
In 2015, TV broadcasters were required to convert textual warnings about emergency events that are broadcast outside of news programs (e.g. weather alerts that are displayed as textual crawls during entertainment programming) into audio, and to transmit that audio on the station’s SAP channel. The deadline for that requirement was extended, and then paired back…
Emergency Communications Updates: FCC Hotline for Hurricane Matthew, Reminder on Accessibility of Emergency Warnings, and Possible Extension for Audio Conversion of Certain Visual Emergency Information
With the approach of Hurricane Matthew to the coast of the southeast United States, emergency communications is a high priority for all media outlets. Emergency communications have also been a hot issue at the FCC – with 3 notices in the last week dealing with this important subject. One notice was to provide emergency contact information at the FCC which will be available 24 hours a day during the Hurricane for any assistance that the agency can provide. A second notice was a reminder of how broadcasters (particularly television broadcasters) need to make emergency information accessible. Information that is provided through spoken word must also be made available visually to the hearing impaired, and information that is presented visually must be provided aurally to those who are blind. The third notice asks for comments on the possible extension of time for the waiver of the obligation that TV broadcasters convert certain emergency information presented visually on-screen into audio on a SAP channel for those that are blind or otherwise visually impaired.
The 24-hour hotline (FCC information here) is a service that the FCC instituted many years ago during similar emergencies to help any licensed communications service to the extent possible. In some cases, the response may simply be an immediate response to a request for a temporary authorization to maintain service during the emergency. During Hurricane Katrina, I was asked by a client to talk to people manning the FCC’s emergency number about helping get a fuel truck bringing gasoline to power auxiliary generators at broadcast stations past FEMA roadblocks keeping traffic out of the worst-hit area. I don’t know if the call to the FCC did it, but the truck did get the authorization to enter the restricted area and the station was able to keep operating. So use this number if needed during the emergency.
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December Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Ownership and EEO Reports, Retransmission Consent and Foreign Ownership Rulemaking Comments, Incentive Auction and Accessibility Obligations
December is one of those months when all commercial broadcasters have at least one FCC deadline, and there are also many other filing dates of which many broadcasters need to take note. For all commercial broadcasters, Biennial Ownership Reports are due on December 2. Hopefully, most broadcasters have already completed this filing obligation, as FCC electronic filing systems have been known to slow as a major deadline like this comes closer. See our article here for more on the Biennial Ownership filing requirement that applies to all commercial broadcast stations.
Noncommercial stations are not yet subject to the uniform Biennial Ownership Report deadline (though the FCC has proposed that happen in the future, see our article here, a proceeding in which a decision could come soon). But many noncommercial stations do have ownership report deadlines on December 1, as noncommercial reports continue to be due every two years, on even anniversaries of the filing of their license renewal applications. Noncommercial Television Stations in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota have to file their Biennial Ownership Reports by that date. Noncommercial AM and FM Radio Stations in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont also have the same deadline for their Biennial Ownership Reports. …
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November Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Incentive Auction and Biennial Ownership Report Preparation, Reg Fee Comments, Music Issues, Text to Speech Emergency Information and More
November is another of those months with no regular filing obligations – no EEO public file and Mid-Term reports, no noncommercial ownership reports, and no quarterly issues programs lists or children’s television reports. EEO public file reports and noncommercial station ownership reports, being tied to renewal dates, will be back in December. See our Broadcaster’s Calendar, here, for information about the states where stations have such obligations. For all commercial radio and TV stations, November also means that they should be completing their Biennial Ownership Reports, which are due on December 2 (extended from the November 1 due date by FCC action noted, see our article here). Those reports submit a snapshot of broadcast station ownership as of October 1, so they can be filed at any time in November.
The end of November also brings the effective date of the requirement that TV stations convert the text of their emergency alerts run in entertainment programs (like weather alerts) into speech, with that audio to be broadcast on the station’s SAP channel. See our articles here and here on that requirement.
Continue Reading November Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Incentive Auction and Biennial Ownership Report Preparation, Reg Fee Comments, Music Issues, Text to Speech Emergency Information and More
New Accessibility Compliance Deadlines for TV Stations Coming Very Soon
TV stations have in the past few years been hit with many requirements for making their programming – especially emergency information – accessible to all people within their service areas. Two deadlines loom in the very short term that stations need to remember – the requirements for converting text based emergency information aired on their stations outside of news and EAS alerts (usually crawls dealing with issues such as severe weather alerts) into speech for airing on their SAP channels, and the requirement that any clips transmitted through IP technology (e.g. to computers or through apps) must contain captions if those clips were taken from programming that was broadcast with captions.
Some trade press reports have indicated that some TV stations are still having issues with the requirement that stations take emergency information broadcast outside of news programming and not in EAS alerts, and convert that information to speech to be broadcast on the station’s SAP channel (in some cases requiring that the station activate a SAP channel if they did not already have one). This rule is meant to cover information like weather alerts typically carried in crawls during entertainment programs. The rule was supposed to take effect in May, but was extended until November 30 when it appeared that most TV stations were not ready to meet the original deadline. We wrote about the requirements and the extension here and here. The extension also put on hold obligations to include school closing alerts on the SAP channel when it became clear that the time necessary to broadcast those alert on the SAP channel (and to do it twice, as required by the rules for the audio alerts on the SAP channels) would likely overwhelm the ability to carry any other information. The extension order also extended until November 2016 the obligation to aurally describe on the SAP channel any non-textual, graphical information conveyed by the station outside of news programs (e.g. weather radar images). But the general obligation to convert text to speech still goes into effect at the end of next month – so stations need to be ready.
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FCC Extends Deadline for TV Stations to Convert Emergency Information in Textual Crawls to Audio on SAP Channels
The FCC yesterday granted extensions requested by the National Association of Broadcasters and by the American Cable Association of the deadlines for implementation of obligations to convert emergency information conveyed in text (usually in on-screen crawls) on television broadcasts into audio to be broadcast on a TV station’s SAP channel (the second audio programming channel usually used for second-language program audio, e.g. a Spanish audio version of English-language programming). This “Audible Crawl Rule” was set to become effective yesterday. The extension of the basic requirement for TV broadcasters to convert the text of crawls containing emergency announcements to speech has been postponed six months, until November 30. Certain related obligations (to provide audio descriptions of non-textual information like weather radar maps, and to include school closing information among the emergency information provided under the Audio Crawl Rule) have been extended further into the future.
The NAB’s request for extension (about which we wrote here) was based on three different issues. The first was the NAB’s finding that the equipment to generate speech from textual crawls was not yet widely available in the marketplace, so most TV stations simply did not have the time to install the equipment to meet the FCC’s requirement. Groups representing the visually-impaired community expressed concern with the delays, but nevertheless agreed to the six month extension granted by the FCC yesterday.
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NAB Requests Extension of May Obligation for TV Stations to Convert Emergency Information from Text to Speech
The FCC two years ago adopted a rule requiring that television stations that provide emergency information visually (e.g. through open captions or crawls), outside of news programming, convert that emergency information into audio and run that audio on SAP channels (secondary audio programming channels – usually used for Spanish language translations of English-language programs). That…
FCC Retracts Text-to-Speech Prohibition from New EAS Rules
The conversion of EAS alerts from text to speech by broadcast stations and cable systems, through systems contained in the stations and systems EAS equipment, was prohibited in the FCC’s Fifth Report and Order (summarized here) implementing the rules for the technology for the Common Alerting Protocol – the Internet-based alert system that must be…