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CVAA Emergency Info./Video Description Report and Order & FNPRM

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Released: April 9, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 13-45

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Accessible Emergency Information, and Apparatus )
Requirements for Emergency Information and
)
MB Docket No. 12-107
Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-
)
First Century Communications and Video
)
Accessibility Act of 2010
)
)

Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty- )
First Century Communications and Video
)
MB Docket No. 11-43
Accessibility Act of 2010
)

REPORT AND ORDER AND FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

Adopted: April 8, 2013

Released: April 9, 2013

Comment Date: (60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)
Reply Comment Date: (90 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)

By the Commission: Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel and Pai issuing separate statements;
Commissioner McDowell not participating.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 13-45

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Accessible Emergency Information, and Apparatus )
Requirements for Emergency Information and
)
MB Docket No. 12-107
Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-
)
First Century Communications and Video
)
Accessibility Act of 2010
)
)

Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty- )
First Century Communications and Video
)
MB Docket No. 11-43
Accessibility Act of 2010
)

REPORT AND ORDER AND FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

Adopted: April 8, 2013

Released: April 9, 2013

Comment Date: (60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)
Reply Comment Date: (90 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)

By the Commission: Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel and Pai issuing separate statements;
Commissioner McDowell not participating.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Heading
Paragraph #
I. INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................................................. 1
II. BACKGROUND.................................................................................................................................... 4
III. SECTION 202 OF THE CVAA............................................................................................................. 7
A. Scope of the Emergency Information Rules .................................................................................... 7
B. Accessible Emergency Information Requirements........................................................................ 10
1. Requirements Applicable to Emergency Information Provided Visually During Non-
Newscast Programming........................................................................................................... 11
2. Definition of Emergency Information..................................................................................... 29
C. Responsibilities of Entities Subject to Section 202(a) of the CVAA............................................. 32
D. Compliance Deadlines ................................................................................................................... 37
E. Complaint Procedures.................................................................................................................... 46
IV. SECTION 203 OF THE CVAA........................................................................................................... 48
A. Apparatus Requirements for Emergency Information and Video Description.............................. 49
1. Performance and Display Standards........................................................................................ 50
2. Recording Devices .................................................................................................................. 52
3. Customer Support Services ..................................................................................................... 54
4. Interconnection Mechanisms................................................................................................... 55
5. Issues from 2011 Video Description Order.............................................................................
56
B. Apparatus Subject to Section 203 of the CVAA............................................................................ 60
1. General Scope of the Apparatus Requirements....................................................................... 60

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2. Interpretation of Statutory Terms Incorporated in the Commission’s Apparatus
Requirements........................................................................................................................... 63
3. Application of the Apparatus Requirements to Certain Categories of Apparatus................... 70
C. Alternate Means of Compliance .................................................................................................... 75
D. Compliance Deadlines ...................................................................................................................
76
E. Complaint Procedures.................................................................................................................... 78
V. FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING..................................................................... 80
VI. PROCEDURAL MATTERS................................................................................................................ 87
A. Regulatory Flexibility Act ............................................................................................................. 87
B. Paperwork Reduction Act .............................................................................................................. 89
C. Congressional Review Act............................................................................................................. 91
D. Ex Parte Rules................................................................................................................................ 92
E. Filing Requirements....................................................................................................................... 93
F. Additional Information ..................................................................................................................
96
VII. ORDERING CLAUSES...................................................................................................................... 97
APPENDIX A - List of Commenters
APPENDIX B - Final Rules
APPENDIX C - Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for the Report and Order
APPENDIX D - Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for the Further Notice

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
Pursuant to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of
2010 (“CVAA”),1 this Report and Order adopts rules requiring that emergency information2 provided in
video programming be made accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired and that certain
apparatus be capable of delivering video description and emergency information to those individuals.
Section 202 of the CVAA directs the Commission to promulgate rules requiring video programming
providers, video programming distributors, and program owners3 to convey emergency information in a
manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.4 The Report and Order implements

1 Pub. L. No. 111-260, 124 Stat. 2751 (2010) (as codified in various sections of 47 U.S.C.). See also Amendment of
Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-265, 124 Stat. 2795
(2010) (making technical corrections to the CVAA). The foregoing are collectively referred to herein as the CVAA.
The CVAA was enacted on October 8, 2010.
2 The CVAA directed the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) to apply here the definition of
“emergency information” found in the Commission’s rules. 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(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. Examples of the types of emergencies covered include 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.” 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(a)(2). “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 C.F.R. § 79.2(a)(2).
3 Section 79.1 of the Commission’s rules defines the terms “video programming distributor” and “video
programming provider.” 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.1(a)(2)-(3). It does not define the term “program owner.”
4 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(2).
2

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this mandate by requiring the use of a secondary audio stream5 to convey televised emergency
information aurally, when such information is conveyed visually during programming other than
newscasts, for example, in an on-screen crawl.6 This requirement, which has widespread industry
support, will serve the public interest by ensuring that televised emergency information is accessible to
individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Further, as directed by Section 203 of the CVAA, the
Report and Order requires certain apparatus that receive, play back, or record video programming to
make available video description7 services and accessible emergency information.8 Specifically, as
explained in more detail below, the apparatus rules require that certain apparatus make available the
secondary audio stream, which is currently used to provide video description and which will be used to
provide aural emergency information. The apparatus requirements will benefit individuals who are blind
or visually impaired by ensuring that apparatus on which consumers receive, play back, or record video
programming are capable of accessing emergency information and video description services. We
understand that most apparatus subject to the rules already comply with these requirements. As discussed
in Section III below, we adopt emergency information requirements for video programming distributors,
video programming providers, and program owners pursuant to Section 202(a) of the CVAA.
Specifically, we adopt rules that will:
 Clarify that the new emergency information requirements apply to video programming provided
by entities that are already covered by Section 79.2 of the Commission’s rules – i.e., broadcasters,
MVPDs, 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;
 Require that covered entities make an aural presentation of emergency information that is
provided visually in non-newscast programming available on a secondary audio stream;
 Continue to require the use of an aural tone to precede emergency information on the main
program audio, and now also require use of the aural tone to precede emergency information on
the secondary audio stream;
 Permit, but do not require, the use of text-to-speech (“TTS”) technologies as a method for
providing an aural rendition of emergency information, and impose qualitative requirements if
TTS is used;
 Require that emergency information provided aurally on the secondary audio stream be conveyed
at least twice in full;
 Require that emergency information supersede all other programming on the secondary audio
stream;
 Decline to make any substantive revisions to the current definition of emergency information, but
clarify that severe thunderstorms and other severe weather events are included within the current
definition;
 Revise the emergency information rule, as required by the statute, to include video programming
providers (which includes program owners) as parties responsible for making emergency

5 A secondary audio stream is an audio channel, other than the main program audio channel, that is typically used
for foreign language audio and video description.
6 See infra Section III.B.1.
7 “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 C.F.R. § 79.3(a)(3).
8 47 U.S.C. §§ 303(u), (z), 330(b). See infra Section IV.A.
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information available to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, in addition to already
covered video programming distributors, and to allocate responsibilities among covered entities;
 Adopt a compliance deadline of two years from the date of Federal Register publication for
compliance with the emergency information rules adopted herein; and
 Grant waivers to The Weather Channel, LLC (“The Weather Channel”) and DIRECTV, LLC
(“DIRECTV”) to provide them with additional time and flexibility to come into compliance with
the rules adopted herein with regard to the provision of local weather alerts during The Weather
Channel’s programming via devices that are not currently capable of providing aural emergency
information on a secondary audio stream.
2.
As discussed in Section IV below, we adopt apparatus requirements for emergency
information and video description pursuant to Section 203 of the CVAA. Specifically, we adopt rules
that will:
 Require apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record video programming transmitted
simultaneously with sound to make secondary audio streams available, because such streams are
the existing mechanism for providing video description and the new mechanism for making
emergency information accessible;
 Decline at this time to adopt specific performance and display standards or policies addressing
certain issues from the 2011 video description proceeding;
 Permit, but do not require, covered apparatus to contain TTS capability;
 Limit applicability of the apparatus requirements, at this time, to apparatus designed to receive,
play back, or record video programming provided by entities subject to Sections 79.2 and 79.3 of
our rules;
 Apply the apparatus requirements to removable media players, but not to professional and
commercial equipment or display-only monitors;
 Find that the apparatus requirements adopted herein apply to mobile digital television (“mobile
DTV”) apparatus because such apparatus make available mobile DTV services, which are
provided by television broadcast stations subject to Sections 79.2 and 79.3 of our rules;
 Implement the statutory provision that permits alternate means of compliance;
 Adopt a compliance deadline of two years from the date of Federal Register publication for
compliance with the apparatus rules adopted herein; and
 Adopt procedures for complaints alleging violations of the apparatus requirements adopted
herein.
3.
As discussed in Section V below, we issue a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(“Further Notice”) that:
 Explores whether a multichannel video programming distributor (“MVPD”) service is covered by
the emergency information rules adopted herein when an MVPD, as defined in the Commission’s
rules, permits its subscribers to access linear video programming that contains emergency
information via tablets, laptops, personal computers, smartphones, or similar devices;
 Explores whether an MVPD system must comply with the video description rules when it permits
its subscribers to access linear video programming via tablets, laptops, personal computers,
smartphones, or similar devices;
 Explores whether the Commission should impose a requirement that broadcast receivers detect
and decode audio streams marked for the visually impaired, to ensure that consumers can find and
locate those streams; and
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 Explores whether the Commission should require covered entities to provide customer support
services and contact information to assist consumers who are blind or visually impaired to
navigate between the main and secondary audio streams.

II.

BACKGROUND

4.
Section 202 of the CVAA directs the Commission to “identify methods to convey
emergency information (as that term is defined in section 79.2 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations) in
a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.”9 Pursuant to this section, the
Commission must also “promulgate regulations that 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.”10 In addition, Section 203 of the CVAA directs the
Commission to prescribe rules requiring certain apparatus on which consumers receive or play back video
programming to have the capability to decode and make available emergency information and video
description services in a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and
requiring certain apparatus designed to record video programming to enable the rendering or pass through
of video description signals and emergency information.11
5.
The CVAA directed the Chairman of the Commission to establish an advisory committee
known as the Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee (“VPAAC”),12 which was directed
to develop a report that identifies performance objectives and recommends technical standards and other
necessary regulations for the provision of emergency information and video description.13 The VPAAC’s
members include representatives from the industry and from consumer groups, and its recommendations
thus reflect, in many cases, a consensus among regulated entities and consumers. The VPAAC submitted
its statutorily mandated report addressing video description and emergency information to the
Commission on April 9, 2012.14 The Commission released the NPRM in this proceeding in November
2012.15 In the NPRM, the Commission provided detailed background information regarding the

9 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(1).
10 Id. § 613(g)(2).
11 Id. §§ 303(u)(1), (z)(1).
12 Pub. L. No. 111-260, § 201(a). Although the CVAA refers to this advisory committee as the “Video
Programming and Emergency Access Advisory Committee,” the Commission shortened its working name to the
“Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee” to avoid confusion with the “Emergency Access Advisory
Committee” established under Section 106 of the CVAA.
13 Id. § 201(e)(2). Section 201(e)(2) also required the report to include information related to user interfaces and
video programming guides and menus, which is part of a separate Commission rulemaking proceeding that
addresses Sections 204 and 205 of the CVAA. See 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) (“Sections 204 and 205 Public Notice”).
14 See 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 (“VPAAC Second Report: Video Description”). 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+SUB
MITTED+4-9-2012.pdf (“VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information”).
15 See 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
,
(continued….)
5

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applicable provisions of the CVAA, the VPAAC Second Report, and the current rules applicable to
televised emergency information and video description, which we need not repeat here.16 The CVAA
requires the Commission to complete its emergency information proceeding within one year of the
submission of the VPAAC Second Report and to prescribe the apparatus requirements for video
description and emergency information within 18 months of the submission of the VPAAC Second
Report.17
6.
To fulfill these statutory mandates, we adopt the rules discussed below. These rules
impose new requirements with regard to the accessibility of televised emergency information for
consumers who are blind or visually impaired, as well as new video description and emergency
information requirements with regard to the apparatus consumers use to receive, play back, and record
video programming. By ensuring the accessibility of emergency information and the availability of
accessible emergency information and video description services, the regulations adopted here further 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.”18

III.

SECTION 202 OF THE CVAA

A.

Scope of the Emergency Information Rules

7.
At the outset, we determine that the emergency information requirements adopted in this
proceeding will apply to video programming19 subject to Section 79.2 of the Commission’s rules that is
provided by a covered entity, i.e., video programming provided by television broadcast stations licensed
by the Commission,20 MVPDs, and “any other distributor of video programming for residential reception
(Continued from previous page)
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd 14728 (2012) (“NPRM”). In April 2012, the Media Bureau and the
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking comment on the portions of the
VPAAC Second Report that address emergency information and video description, and the comments and reply
comments received in response to the Public Notice helped inform the NPRM. Public Notice, Media Bureau and
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Seek Comment on Second VPAAC Report: Video Description and
Access to Emergency Information
, 27 FCC Rcd 4195 (2012).
16 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14729-33, ¶¶ 2-5.
17 47 U.S.C. § 613(g); Pub. L. No. 111-260, § 203(d)(2). As noted, the VPAAC submitted its report to the
Commission on April 9, 2012. Accordingly, the deadline for the emergency information proceeding is April 9,
2013, and the deadline for prescribing apparatus requirements is October 9, 2013.
18 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”).
19 The Commission’s rules state that “the definitions in §§79.1 and 79.3 apply” for purposes of Section 79.2. 47
C.F.R. §§ 79.1(a)(1), 79.2(a)(1), 79.3(a)(4). Section 79.1(a)(1) defines “video programming” as “[p]rogramming
provided by, or generally considered comparable to programming provided by, a television broadcast station that is
distributed and exhibited for residential use.” Id. § 79.1(a)(1). Section 79.3(a)(4) defines “video programming” as
“[p]rogramming provided by, or generally considered comparable to programming provided by, a television
broadcast station, but not including consumer-generated media.” Id. § 79.3(a)(4). Although Section 79.2 imposes
requirements on covered entities, we find it useful to discuss the scope of the rules in terms of the video
programming
provided by covered entities, as it is such programming that must be made accessible. We discuss
which entities are covered by our revised emergency information requirements in Section III.C herein. See infra
Section III.C.
20 This includes video programming offered over mobile DTV apparatus, which is provided by television broadcast
stations, a category of “video programming distributors” subject to the emergency information requirements in
Section 79.2(b) of our rules. 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(b). See also 47 C.F.R. § 79.1(a)(2) (defining “video programming
distributor”). The National Association of Broadcasters (“NAB”) does not dispute that television broadcast stations
must comply with the emergency information requirements in Section 79.2 when providing video programming via
mobile DTV apparatus. See, e.g., Letter from Ann West Bobeck, Senior VP and Deputy General Counsel, Legal
(continued….)
6

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that delivers such programming directly to the home and is subject to the jurisdiction of the
Commission.”21 This interpretation is supported by Congress’s reference to television-based definitions
of video programming distributors and providers in Section 202 of the CVAA.22 Specifically, in Section
202 of the CVAA, Congress amended Section 713 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the
“Communications Act”), to 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.”23 We believe that our interpretation is a reasonable reading of the statute because reference to
definitions in the television closed captioning rule evidences Congress’s intent to apply the emergency
information requirements in Section 613(g) of the Communications Act to video programming provided
by covered entities.24
8.
Although consumer groups urge the Commission to find that the rules extend more
broadly to all Internet protocol (“IP”)-delivered video programming,25 other commenters argue that there
is nothing in the statute or legislative history indicating that Congress intended to expand the scope of the
emergency information rules in this manner.26 In addition, NAB observes that legal, practical, and
(Continued from previous page)
and Regulatory Affairs, National Association of Broadcasters, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1 (Feb. 8,
2013) (“NAB Feb. 8 Ex Parte Letter”) (stating that our rules should afford flexibility to program originators “so that
the viewer is able [to] access emergency information” on mobile DTV devices).
21 See 47 C.F.R. § 79.2; NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14734, ¶ 6. As noted above, the Commission’s rules state that for
purposes of Section 79.2, “the definitions in §§79.1 and 79.3 apply.” 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.1(a)(2), 79.2(a)(1), 79.3(a)(5).
Section 79.1(a)(2) defines a “video programming distributor” as “[a]ny television broadcast station licensed by the
Commission and any multichannel video programming distributor as defined in § 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.” Id. § 79.1(a)(2). See also id. § 79.3(a)(5) (providing a
nearly identical definition of “video programming distributor”). In the NPRM, we proposed that the emergency
information rules would continue to apply only to television broadcast services and MVPD services. See NPRM, 27
FCC Rcd at 14734, ¶ 6. After further consideration of this issue, however, we believe a better approach is to
describe the scope of the emergency information rules more precisely by tracking the language used in our existing
rules. Thus, the rules will continue to apply to video programming provided by covered entities, which includes
programming provided by broadcasters, MVPDs, 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 C.F.R. § 79.1(a)(2).
22 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(2) (referencing the definitions of video programming providers and video programming
distributors from the television closed captioning rule, 47 C.F.R. § 79.1). See Reply Comments of AT&T Services,
Inc. at 2 (“AT&T Reply”).
23 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(2) (emphasis added). See 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.1(a)(2), (a)(3).
24 Although Section 613(g)(2) also refers to “program owners,” a term that is not defined separately in Section 79.1
of the Commission’s rules, we note that the definition of “video programming provider” in Section 79.1(a)(3)
includes “but [is] not limited to broadcast or nonbroadcast television network and the owners of such programming.”
47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(2); 47 C.F.R. § 79.1(a)(3). See infra Section III.C. Thus, we believe our interpretation also is
consistent with Congress’s inclusion of “program owners” as responsible parties in Section 202 of the CVAA.
25 See Comments of the American Council of the Blind at 2 (“ACB Comments”); Comments of the Rehabilitation
Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access et al. at 8 (“Consumer Groups Comments”); Reply
Comments of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access et al. at 4
(“Consumer Groups Reply”). See also Comments of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless
Technologies at 13-14 (“Wireless RERC Comments”) (recommending that the Commission investigate the technical
feasibility of providing emergency information in both aural and visual formats on live, IP-delivered programming).
26 See Comments of the Entertainment Software Association at 1, 3-5 (“ESA Comments”); Comments of the
Telecommunications Industry Association at 6 (“TIA Comments”); AT&T Reply at 1-2; Reply Comments of the
(continued….)
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technological limitations currently preclude a uniform or consistent methodology for Internet-delivered
emergency information, and that delivering emergency information via IP raises issues with regard to
timeliness and geographic relevance of the information.27 We agree that at the present time, the delivery
of emergency information via IP raises issues – both in terms of scope and in terms of practicality – that
currently make it difficult to achieve.28 Accordingly, at this time, we find that the emergency information
rules do not apply to IP-delivered video programming, such as the programming provided by online video
distributors (“OVDs”)29 like Netflix and Hulu.30 We recognize, however, that the nature of the delivery
of video programming is evolving, and in the coming years, the Commission may need to consider the
regulatory implications associated with new forms of video programming services provided by covered
entities.
9.
We also adopt the NPRM’s conclusion that the emergency information rule in Section
79.2 applies more broadly than the regulations governing the Emergency Alert System (“EAS”), which
are found in Part 11 of our rules.31 The EAS rules contain the technical standards and operational
procedures of the EAS, which provides the President with the ability to communicate immediately to the
(Continued from previous page)
National Association of Broadcasters at 2 (“NAB Reply”). See also Letter from Diane B. Burstein, Vice President
and Deputy General Counsel, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, at 2 (Feb. 28, 2013) (“NCTA Feb. 28 Ex Parte Letter”); Letter from Diane B. Burstein, Vice President and
Deputy General Counsel, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, at 2 (Mar. 11, 2013) (“NCTA Mar. 11 Ex Parte Letter”); Letter from James R. Coltharp, Comcast
Corporation, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 2 (Feb. 19, 2013) (“Comcast Feb. 19 Ex Parte Letter”);
Letter from James R. Coltharp, Comcast Corporation, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1 (Mar. 4, 2013)
(“Comcast Mar. 4 Ex Parte Letter”); Letter from James R. Coltharp, Comcast Corporation, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, at 1 (Mar. 15, 2013) (“Comcast Mar. 15 Ex Parte Letter”). We note, however, that Congress
charged the VPAAC with reporting and making recommendations to the Commission with respect to the delivery of
accessible emergency information and video description using IP. See Pub. L. No. 111-260, §§ 201(e)(2)(B), (C),
and (E).
27 NAB Reply at 3 (citing VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 9).
28 We also note that Section 79.2(b)(2) applies the rule “to emergency information primarily intended for
distribution to an audience in the geographic area in which the emergency is occurring.” 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(b)(2).
Given this geographic limitation, applying the rule broadly to cover all IP-delivered video programming, regardless
of location, may not serve a useful purpose for and may cause confusion to viewers in areas with no connection to
the location of the emergency.
29 Annual Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming, Fourteenth
Report, 27 FCC Rcd 8610, 8612, n. 6 (2012) (“An ‘OVD’ is any entity that offers video content by means of the
Internet or other Internet Protocol (IP)-based transmission path provided by a person or entity other than the OVD.
An OVD does not include an MVPD inside its MVPD footprint or an MVPD to the extent it is offering online video
content as a component of an MVPD subscription to customers whose homes are inside its MVPD footprint.”).
30 There are situations, however, where our emergency information rules do apply to IP-delivered video
programming provided by a covered entity. For example, as AT&T explains, although its U-Verse service is an
Internet protocol television (“IPTV”) service, AT&T is an MVPD, and, thus, the video programming offered
through this service would be subject to the emergency information rules. See AT&T Reply at 2, n. 6. We also note
that in the Further Notice we inquire whether an MVPD service is covered by the emergency information rules
adopted herein, when an MVPD, as defined in the Commission’s rules, permits its subscribers to access linear video
programming that contains emergency information via tablets, laptops, personal computers, smartphones, or similar
devices. See infra Section V. At this time, however, we find that the emergency information rules do not apply to
video programming available for viewing on an Internet website, even if such programming is provided by a
covered entity. See, e.g., NAB Reply at 3-4.
31 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14729-30, ¶ 2, n. 8. See also Comments of the National Cable & Telecommunications
Association at 6-7 (“NCTA Comments”); VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 3-4.
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general public during periods of national emergency, and which may be used to provide the heads of state
and local governments, or their designated representatives, with a means of emergency communication
with the public in their state or local areas.32 The EAS has its own guidelines and requirements for
message content and transmission. In contrast, Section 79.2 applies to televised information about a
current emergency affecting the local geographic area, intended to further the protection of life, health,
safety, and property.33 We agree with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (“NCTA”)
that the accessibility of televised emergency information required under Section 79.2 is a separate matter
from an activation of the EAS as governed by Part 11 of our rules.34 Accordingly, we clarify that the
emergency information covered by this proceeding does not include emergency alerts delivered through
the EAS, which are subject to separate accessibility requirements requiring the transmission of EAS
attention signals and EAS messages in audio and visual formats.35 However, to the extent a broadcaster
or other covered entity uses the information provided through EAS or any other source (e.g., information
from the National Weather Service) to generate its own crawl conveying emergency information as
defined in Section 79.2(a)(2) outside the context of an EAS activation, it must comply with the
requirements of Section 79.2.

B.

Accessible Emergency Information Requirements

10.
Section 79.2 of the Commission’s rules requires video programming distributors to make
emergency information accessible to individuals “with visual disabilities,” and it contains separate
requirements for emergency information that is presented visually during newscasts and for emergency
information that is provided visually during programming that is not a newscast.36 With regard to
emergency information provided visually during newscasts, we make no changes to the requirement that
covered entities make emergency information accessible to persons with visual disabilities by aurally
describing such information in the main program audio.37 No commenter indicates a need to revise the
existing requirement applicable to emergency information provided visually in a newscast. We agree
with NAB and NCTA that there is no need to change this portion of the rule because emergency
information conveyed during newscasts is currently required to be accessible to individuals who are blind

32 See 47 C.F.R. § 11.1.
33 See id. §§ 79.2(a)(2), (b)(2).
34 NCTA Comments at 6. See also Letter from Diane B. Burstein, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel,
National Cable & Telecommunications Association, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1 (Jan. 18, 2013)
(“NCTA Jan. 18 Ex Parte Letter”); NCTA Feb. 28 Ex Parte Letter at 1; NCTA Mar. 11 Ex Parte Letter at 1. But
see
Wireless RERC Comments at 8 (arguing that if the Commission imposes new televised emergency information
requirements on MVPDs, the requirements should extend to EAS messages because it will simplify compliance and
standardize the appearance and accessibility of televised emergency information). The Wireless RERC also argues
that participation in EAS should be mandatory, not voluntary. Wireless RERC Comments at 8. This issue is outside
the scope of the current proceeding and, thus, we do not address it here.
35 See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. § 11.51; NCTA Comments at 6 (citing 47 C.F.R. §§ 11.51(g), (h)). See also Comments of
AT&T Services, Inc. at 3, n. 4 (“AT&T Comments”) (noting that AT&T delivers EAS alerts in aural form). Section
11.51(b) of the Commission’s rules provides that “[p]auses in video programming before EAS message transmission
should not cause television receivers to mute EAS audio messages.” 47 C.F.R. § 11.51(b).
36 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.2(b)(1)(ii)-(iii). We discuss below changes to the latter portion of the rule addressing
emergency information provided visually during non-newscast programming. See infra Section III.B.1.
37 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(b)(1)(ii). See also Implementation of Video Description of Video Programming, Report and
Order, 15 FCC Rcd 15230, 15250-51, ¶¶ 49-50 (2000) (“2000 Video Description Order”) (“We envision that
affected broadcast stations and MVPDs will aurally describe the emergency information in the main audio as part of
their ordinary operations.”).
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or visually impaired through the aural presentation in the main program audio stream.38 Thus, the current
rule with respect to newscasts satisfies the CVAA’s mandate that our regulations require covered entities
to “convey . . . emergency information in a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually
impaired.”39 While we are not changing the basic requirement that covered entities make emergency
information provided in the video portion of a regularly scheduled newscast or newscast that interrupts
regular programming accessible to persons with visual disabilities, we are expanding the rule to cover
video programming providers (which includes program owners) as responsible parties, in addition to
already covered video programming distributors, as required by the statute.40
1.

Requirements Applicable to Emergency Information Provided Visually
During Non-Newscast Programming

11.
We revise the portion of our rule that addresses emergency information provided visually
during non-newscast programming to require that covered entities make emergency information
accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired by aurally describing the emergency
information on a secondary audio stream.41 We note that the VPAAC recommended the use of a
secondary audio stream to provide accessible emergency information.42 As explained herein, we agree
that use of a secondary audio stream is the best means to implement the CVAA’s directive to make
emergency information accessible because many covered entities already provide or have the capability to
pass through secondary audio streams, and because individuals who are blind or visually impaired have

38 See Comments of the National Association of Broadcasters at 6 (“NAB Comments”) (explaining that no
substantive change to this portion of the rule is needed because emergency information conveyed during newscasts
is already accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired through the aural presentation in the main
program audio stream); NCTA Comments at 3 (agreeing that there is no need to revise the requirements governing
accessibility of emergency information provided during newscasts and that the focus of this proceeding should be on
emergency information provided during non-newscast programming). See also NCTA Feb. 28 Ex Parte Letter at 1;
NCTA Mar. 11 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
39 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(2). In contrast, we revise the current rule applicable to non-newscast programming – which
requires that emergency information be accompanied with an aural tone – as discussed herein to ensure that such
information is conveyed in a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. See infra Section
III.B.1.
40 See infra Section III.C; 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(2). We also make a non-substantive change to Sections 79.2(b)(2)(i)
and 79.2(b)(2)(ii) of the revised rule by replacing the term “persons with visual disabilities,” as reflected in our
current rules, with “individuals who are blind or visually impaired,” as reflected in the language used in the CVAA.
See infra Appendix B (Final Rules), §§ 79.2(b)(2)(i)-(ii). See also 47 U.S.C. § 613(g). There is no indication in the
CVAA that Congress considered there to be a substantive difference between the two phrases, nor do we intend one.
We simply make this change to conform the language in our rules to be consistent with the language used in the
CVAA. See 47 U.S.C. § 613(g).
41 We also adopt non-substantive edits to our existing emergency information rules to make the meaning more clear.
As proposed in the NPRM, we change references in Sections 79.2(b)(2)(i) and 79.2(b)(2)(ii) of the revised rule to
“[e]mergency information that is provided in the video portion” to “[e]mergency information that is provided
visually.” NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14735, n. 52. See infra Appendix B (Final Rules), §§ 79.2(b)(2)(i)-(ii). No
commenter takes issue with this proposed change. Further, in Section 79.2(b)(2)(ii) of the revised rule, we change
the phrase “programming that is not a regularly scheduled newscast, or a newscast that interrupts regular
programming” to read “programming that is neither a regularly scheduled newscast, nor a newscast that interrupts
regular programming.” See infra Appendix B (Final Rules), § 79.2(b)(2)(ii). NAB supports a similar change to the
language in this section to clarify that the requirement applies to programming that is neither a regularly scheduled
programming, nor a newscast that interrupts regular programming. See NAB Comments at 6.
42 See VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 7, 10-11.
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familiarity with accessing this stream for video description services.43 We therefore adopt the VPAAC’s
recommendation. Under our current rules, if emergency information is provided in the video portion of
programming that is not a regularly scheduled newscast or a newscast that interrupts regular
programming, it must be accompanied with an aural tone.44 Although the rules do not specify the
parameters of the “aural tone,” under standard industry practice, three high-pitched tones are used to
indicate the presence of on-screen emergency information.45 While the aural tone alerts members of the
program’s audience who are blind or visually impaired that an emergency situation exists, these
individuals must resort to an alternative source, such as the radio, to try to obtain more specific details
about the nature and severity of the emergency.46 As a result, individuals who are blind or visually
impaired may have inadequate or untimely access to the critical details of an emergency in the local
viewing area.47
12.
In accordance with the CVAA’s mandate in Section 202, we modify the current rule
applicable to emergency information provided visually in programming that is not a newscast to ensure
that such information is conveyed in a manner accessible to consumers who are blind or visually
impaired. Specifically, if emergency information is provided visually in programming that is neither a
regularly scheduled newscast nor a newscast that interrupts regular programming, we require that covered
entities also make an aural presentation of this information available on a secondary audio stream.48 We
continue to require use of the aural tone as an alerting mechanism on the main program audio, and we
also now require use of the aural tone to precede emergency information on the secondary audio stream.49
On the main program audio, the purpose of the aural tone is to alert persons who are blind or visually
impaired that visual emergency information is available. On a secondary audio stream, the aural tone has
the additional purpose of differentiating audio accompanying the underlying programming from
emergency information audio. Under this approach, consumers who are blind or visually impaired would
be alerted to the presence of an emergency situation through the aural tone, and would then be able to
promptly access the televised emergency information on the secondary audio stream.50 With our new
rule, consumers who are blind or visually impaired no longer need to use a source other than the
television to obtain the critical details of an emergency.51
13.
There is a general consensus in the record among both industry and consumer groups that
use of the secondary audio stream is the best method to ensure accessibility of visual emergency

43 See infra ¶ 13.
44 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(b)(1)(iii).
45 VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 3.
46 See id. at 3-4. See also 2000 Video Description Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 15250, ¶ 48; AT&T Comments at 2
(observing that the current rule merely informs individuals who are blind or visually impaired that there is an
emergency, but they need to take steps to seek other accessible media).
47 See VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 7.
48 See id. at 10.
49 See AT&T Comments at 6-7 (recommending that we continue to require the use of an aural tone to notify
individuals who are blind or visually impaired that they need to either access the secondary stream for emergency
information or seek this information from other sources).
50 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14735-36, ¶ 9. See VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 10.
51 See Wireless RERC Comments at 12 (arguing that we should “avoid requiring people with vision loss to access an
alternate technology to get the same information the sighted get from the television,” as the need to “[s]eek[]
complete information through a secondary source will inevitably slow down reaction time” in emergency situations).
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information presented during non-newscast programming.52 We agree with AT&T and other commenters
that requiring use of a secondary audio stream to carry aural emergency information is “a straightforward
and ideal solution” because many covered entities already provide a secondary audio stream for video
description or foreign language translation,53 and there are few technical impediments to passing through
aural emergency information on a secondary audio stream.54 Moreover, consumers who are blind or
visually impaired have familiarity with using the secondary audio stream to access video description.55
14.
At this time, we do not require covered entities to provide an audio stream that is
dedicated solely to aurally accessible emergency information. MVPD commenters argue that mandating

52 See AT&T Comments at 2, 5 (arguing that use of the secondary audio stream “is a straightforward and ideal
solution” to make emergency information accessible); Comments of DIRECTV, LLC at 5 (“DIRECTV Comments”)
(“support[ing] the Commission’s approach of employing secondary audio streams that already exist” to provide
accessible emergency information); Comments of DISH Network L.L.C. at 3 (“DISH Network Comments”)
(arguing that secondary audio streams “could offer a workable method of providing accessible emergency
information”); NAB Comments at 5 (supporting use of a secondary audio stream because this approach “is sensible
from a technical and practical perspective” and “ensures that viewers benefit by receiving critical crawled
information”); NCTA Comments at 4-5 (stating that use of the same audio stream that is used for video description
“makes sense for enhancing accessibility at this time”); Wireless RERC Comments at 7 (recommending that
emergency information be provided on the secondary audio stream containing video description); Reply Comments
of CenturyLink, Inc. at 1-2 (“CenturyLink Reply”) (supporting use of the secondary audio stream to convey
emergency information that is displayed visually during non-newscast programming); Reply Comments of Verizon
at 2 (“Verizon Reply”) (supporting use of the secondary audio stream and observing that no commenter objected to
this proposal); Comcast Feb. 19 Ex Parte Letter at 2 (expressing support for proposal to pass through emergency
information in the secondary audio stream); Comcast Mar. 4 Ex Parte Letter at 1 (same); Comcast Mar. 15 Ex Parte
Letter at 1 (same). But see Comments of The Weather Channel, LLC at 4-5 (“The Weather Channel Comments”)
(while use of a secondary audio stream “may be the quickest and most effective way for many covered entities” to
make visual emergency information accessible, the Commission should not impose this requirement on The Weather
Channel unless it “is the only reasonable way to achieve compliance with Congress’s goals in the CVAA”). The
Weather Channel’s unique concerns are addressed separately in paragraphs 38 through 40 herein.
53 AT&T Comments at 2. Our rules currently 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. Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and
Video Accessibility Act of 2010
, Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 11847, 11849, ¶ 4 (2011) (“2011 Video Description
Order
”). See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14733, ¶ 5. Full-power affiliates of the top four national networks located in
markets 26-60 also will be subject to this requirement beginning July 1, 2015. 2011 Video Description Order, 26
FCC Rcd at 11856, ¶ 16. Given that video description is provided as a secondary audio service, top four broadcast
affiliates in the top 60 markets either already have or soon will be required to have a secondary audio stream.
54 See AT&T Comments at 5 (stating that there is no technical impediment to carrying aural emergency information
on the secondary audio stream, which “has a proven capability of carrying various types of information”);
DIRECTV Comments at 2, 5 (explaining that where DIRECTV already carries a station’s secondary audio stream, it
would be “a relatively simple process to transmit any audio emergency information provided to DIRECTV by that
station in its secondary audio stream”); NCTA Comments at 4 (noting that cable operators already pass through
video description in secondary audio streams, and that a secondary audio stream pass-through requirement for
emergency information “would present few technical challenges” for cable operators); NCTA Jan. 18 Ex Parte
Letter at 1; NCTA Feb. 28 Ex Parte Letter at 1; NCTA Mar. 11 Ex Parte Letter at 1; Comcast Feb. 19 Ex Parte
Letter at 2 (noting that “Comcast today passes through the secondary audio stream for all its cable services”);
Comcast Mar. 4 Ex Parte Letter at 1 (same); Comcast Mar. 15 Ex Parte Letter at 1 (same). But see Letter from
Barbara S. Esbin, Counsel for American Cable Association, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 2 (Mar. 7,
2013) (“ACA Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter”) (explaining that “some cable operators maintaining hybrid digital/analog or
all-analog systems who also, or only, deliver broadcast signals in analog may not have equipment that permits the
pass-through of [secondary audio streams]”) (footnote omitted).
55 See AT&T Comments at 2; Wireless RERC Comments at 7.
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more than two audio streams – one for main audio, one for video description, and one for emergency
information – would be costly and, in some cases, would pose technical difficulties.56 We therefore agree
with commenters that requiring that stations and operators use a secondary audio stream to provide aural
emergency information will allow them to achieve accessibility in a more efficient and cost-effective
way.57 Notably, no commenter suggests that we should mandate more than two audio streams. Although
additional audio streams are not required, if a covered entity does provide more than two audio streams,
we encourage them as a best practice to make aurally accessible emergency information available on the
same audio stream that is used to provide video description, because consumers who are blind or visually
impaired should have more familiarity with accessing this stream.58
15.
While we mandate use of the secondary audio stream to aurally transmit emergency
information to consumers, we do not adopt a specific method for providing an aural rendition of textual
emergency information on a secondary audio stream. In the NPRM, we asked about the extent to which
the Commission should allow the use of text-to-speech (“TTS”) technologies, which automatically
generate an audio version of a textual message, and whether such technologies are sufficiently accurate
and reliable for rendering an aural translation of emergency information text.59 The record reflects a
consensus that the rules should permit the use of TTS because it can be a useful and quick method to
perform the text-to-aural translation of emergency information.60 NAB argues that use of TTS should not

56 See AT&T Comments at 5-6 (explaining that passing through more than two audio channels might not be possible
if a system is bandwidth constrained and that, for AT&T, such a requirement “would likely result in a visible
degradation in video coding quality”); DIRECTV Comments at 4 (noting that neither broadcasters nor MVPDs have
unlimited capacity for additional audio channels); DISH Network Comments at 5 (“DBS providers have designed
their systems to include only a single secondary audio service. In order for aurally accessible emergency
information to be available on a secondary stream, it will need to share the same [secondary audio stream] that is
also used for video description (if offered).”) (footnotes omitted); CenturyLink Reply at 1-2 (arguing that existing
MVPD infrastructure generally supports no more than one secondary audio stream and, thus, “it would be costly and
inefficient to require MVPDs to build a new audio stream to convey emergency information”). In the NPRM, the
Commission sought comment on the impact, if any, of the proposals contained in the NPRM on broadcasters’ ability
to channel share, which is an option for broadcast television stations that choose to participate in the Commission’s
incentive spectrum auction. See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14736, ¶ 10; Innovation in the Broadcast Television Bands:
Allocations, Channel Sharing and Improvements to VHF
, Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 4616, 4617, ¶ 2 (2012)
(“establish[ing] the basic ground rules for sharing of broadcast channels by stations that choose to share a 6 MHz
channel with one or more other stations in connection with the incentive auction”); Expanding the Economic and
Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions
, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd
12357, 12385, ¶ 84 (2012) (stating that the reverse auction of broadcast television spectrum includes three bid
options for participants, one of which is “voluntary relinquishment of ‘usage rights in order to share a television
channel with another licensee’”) (footnote omitted). Commenters did not address this issue, and we do not expect
the requirements adopted herein to have any impact on channel sharing.
57 See AT&T Comments at 5 (arguing that use of the secondary audio stream “recognizes the competing bandwidth
demands on MVPDs systems and that requiring a dedicated audio channel for emergency information only would be
an inefficient use of limited resources”).
58 See Wireless RERC Comments at 7 (“The Wireless RERC recommends that emergency information should
always be provided on the audio stream containing video description . . . because people with vision loss who use
[video description] for regular programming would be familiar with accessing this stream.”).
59 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14737-38, ¶ 12. See also VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 9
(finding that TTS “is a valuable technology for creating aural representation of a text crawl in a timely fashion”).
60 See ACB Comments at 3 (arguing that TTS is “imminently ideal” given “[t]he rapid development of TTS systems
along with sophisticated ways of deploying these systems,” “provides the additional advantage of being available in
multiple languages,” and will “increase the likelihood” that industry is able to meet implementation deadlines);
NAB Comments at 14 (arguing that the rules should permit but not require the use of TTS); Comments of Kelly
Pierce at 1-2 (“Pierce Comments”) (noting that TTS “can be a useful means of delivering information”); Wireless
(continued….)
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be mandated, however, because while TTS may be useful, it may not be the best method to effectively
convey emergency information in all circumstances.61 In particular, NAB requests flexibility with regard
to use of TTS or other specific technologies for aural translation because broadcasters may face potential
technical and operational challenges in implementing TTS, and “there is no one size fits all solution.”62
16.
Based on the record, we permit, but do not require, the use of TTS technologies as a
method for providing an aural rendition of emergency information, consistent with the Commission’s
approach in the EAS context.63 While we do not require the use of TTS, we believe it is necessary to
revise our rule to provide qualitative standards for TTS for covered entities that choose to use TTS.64
Specifically, information provided through TTS must be intelligible and must use the correct
pronunciation of relevant information to allow consumers to learn about and respond to the emergency,
including, but not limited to, the names of shelters, school districts, streets, districts, and proper names
noted in the visual information.65 Given the critical and urgent nature of emergency information, we
expect covered entities to ensure that the aural version of textual emergency information provided through
TTS is as effectively communicated to consumers who are blind or visually impaired as the textual
content is conveyed to people who are able to see, and we will entertain consumer complaints about the
quality of TTS.
17.
Technical Capability Exception. We decline to adopt a technical capability exception to
our new rule. Thus, unlike our approach in the 2011 Video Description Order, we require all covered
entities that provide visual emergency information that is covered by the rules to get the equipment
(Continued from previous page)
RERC Comments at 8 (arguing that “[c]overed entities should be allowed to use TTS technology to provide audio
description of emergency information” because “[i]n many cases, this is the fastest way to provide the information
to the public”).
61 See NAB Comments at 14.
62 NAB Reply at 9-10. See also Letter from Ann West Bobeck, Senior VP and Deputy General Counsel, Legal and
Regulatory Affairs, National Association of Broadcasters, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1-2 (Jan. 15,
2013) (“NAB Jan. 15 Ex Parte Letter”); Letters from Ann West Bobeck, Senior VP and Deputy General Counsel,
Legal and Regulatory Affairs, National Association of Broadcasters, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 2
(Mar. 7, 2013) (“NAB Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letters”); Letter from Ann West Bobeck, Senior VP and Deputy General
Counsel, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, National Association of Broadcasters, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, at 2 (Mar. 8, 2013) (“NAB Mar. 8 Ex Parte Letter”); The Weather Channel Comments at 6, n. 13 (stating that
“designing a text-to-speech solution that would enable full aural renderings of each text crawl” would “create[]
technical challenges” for The Weather Channel).
63 As we explained more fully in the NPRM, the Commission determined on reconsideration in a recent proceeding
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 (“CAP”). See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14737, ¶ 12, nn. 66-67 (citing
Review of the Emergency Alert System, Order on Reconsideration, 27 FCC Rcd 4429, 4432, ¶¶ 7-8 (2012)). See also
VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 9 (finding that “the need to generate the audio
representation of a crawl in a timely manner outweighs any inconsistencies that might arise from the variations in
TTS implementations”).
64 See Pierce Comments at 2 (“The Commission cannot simply offer TTS technology as an option for delivering
emergency audio information without also establishing guidelines of the basic parameters of the presentation of the
information.”); Wireless RERC Comments at 9 (arguing that we “should require that the TTS technology be of a
certain caliber to ensure that the audio information is clear and understandable” and should direct the VPAAC to
identify standards for the provision of TTS). We note that the VPAAC’s directives with regard to reporting on
video description and emergency information were set forth by Congress. See Pub. L. No. 111-260, §§
201(e)(2)(A)-(E).
65 See, e.g., Pierce Comments at 2. A covered entity’s de minimis failure to comply with the quality standards will
not be treated as a violation of the regulations.
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necessary to make a secondary audio stream available by the two-year compliance deadline adopted
below.66 The 2011 Video Description Order reinstated a technical capability exception for certain
stations and MVPDs that lack the technical capability to pass through video description.67 We inquired in
the NPRM whether there are any technical capability concerns that should be taken into account in the
context of providing emergency information on a secondary audio stream and, if so, how such technical
capability considerations should be addressed in the rules.68 Some commenters support the inclusion of a
technical capability exception.69 In particular, NAB requests that the Commission “incorporate a
technical capability exception in its rules . . . so that the emergency information requirements do not apply
when a station lacks the technical capability necessary to create and transmit the emergency crawl in aural
form – that is, on a secondary audio stream.”70 According to NAB, a broadcast station should be
considered to have the technical capability to support aural transcription of emergency information if it
has the necessary equipment and infrastructure, except for items that would be of minimal cost, similar to
the standard set forth in the video description context.71 The American Council of the Blind (“ACB”), on
the other hand, argues that there should be more stringent standards for the technical capability exception
for emergency information, and that this exception should apply only as an “absolute last resort.”72 We
agree with ACB that the importance of providing accessible emergency information to consumers who
are blind or visually impaired justifies a more rigorous standard from that adopted in the video description
context.73
18.
At the same time, however, we note that DISH Network L.L.C. (“DISH Network”) and

66 See infra Section III.D. See also Wireless RERC Comments at 6 (“[T]he Wireless RERC recommends that if the
video programming distributor has the technical capability to provide a secondary audio stream for the provision of
emergency information then they should be required to utilize their secondary audio stream.”). We note all covered
entities may petition for a waiver of these requirements for good cause pursuant to Section 1.3 of our rules. See 47
C.F.R. § 1.3. In particular, we note that broadcast stations in smaller markets that do not have the necessary
equipment to provide a secondary audio stream can file a request for waiver of the requirements adopted herein.
Given the importance of accessible emergency information, we do not anticipate that waivers will be routinely
granted.
67 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11860-62, ¶¶ 23-27. See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14736, ¶ 10.
Under the 2011 Video Description Order, a station or system lacks the technical capability to pass through video
description if it does not have “‘virtually all necessary equipment and infrastructure to do so, except for items that
would be of minimal cost.’” 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11861, ¶ 27 (footnote omitted).
68 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14736, ¶ 10.
69 See ACB Comments at 2 (“hesitatingly agree[ing]” that there should be a technical capability exception for
television stations that do not have the capability to provide emergency information on a secondary channel); NAB
Comments at 12 (arguing that the Commission should “incorporate a technical capability exception in its rules like
that adopted in the 2011 Video Description Order”) (footnotes omitted); CenturyLink Reply at 3 (arguing that the
technical capability exception in the video description rules should apply to emergency information requirements
because some existing infrastructure may not support the use of secondary audio streams).
70 NAB Comments at 12 (footnotes omitted).
71 See id. at 12, n. 27 (citing 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11860, ¶ 23).
72 See ACB Comments at 2 (noting further that the exception should “be accompanied by a rigorous set of
requirements for achieving technical capability unless the station or network is financially unable to do so”).
73 This action is consistent with our existing rules requiring visual access to emergency information, without
exception, to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. See 47 C.F.R. § 79.2. Unlike our closed captioning rules,
which permit certain exemptions, there are no exemptions applicable to our rules governing the provision of
accessible emergency information to this same population because of the heightened public interest in ensuring that
all viewers can access televised emergency information. See id. §§ 79.1, 79.2.
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DIRECTV raise concerns about spot beam capacity, which is a problem unique to direct broadcast
satellite (“DBS”) providers. Spot beams allow satellite transmissions to be focused on a specific area
within the footprint of the satellite, enabling DBS providers to deliver local channels to precisely defined
areas. DIRECTV explains that, while it currently carries the secondary audio stream of affiliates of the
four major networks and PBS in the markets where it provides local service, it would not have sufficient
capacity on its spot beams if a significant number of additional local stations were to request carriage of
their secondary audio channels.74 Similarly, DISH Network states that it “may not have sufficient
capacity in its spot beams if large numbers of local broadcast stations launch new [secondary audio]
services.”75 The DBS providers indicate that if the Commission imposes a pass-through requirement for
all local stations that provide emergency information on a secondary audio stream, capacity constraints
would affect their ability to add new local-into-local markets and to comply with their “carry-one, carry-
all” obligations.76 They argue that there is no simple remedy for this problem, as DBS providers would
have to replace existing satellites or launch additional satellites to expand capacity or would have to
curtail other valuable services, such as carriage of local broadcast stations or carriage of stations in HD.77
As such, DIRECTV and DISH Network request that the Commission take into account spot beam
capacity constraints in considering an exception for DBS providers from the revised emergency
information rule.78
19.
We require DBS providers to pass through the secondary audio streams of all stations that
provide aural emergency information pursuant to our revised rule.79 Nonetheless, given the technical
constraints faced by DBS providers, we recognize DIRECTV and DISH Network may require relief from
the requirement to pass through secondary audio streams in specialized circumstances, e.g., for any
stations carried in a market where they do not have sufficient spot beam capacity, but we believe our

74 See DIRECTV Comments at 2, 5-7; Letter from William M. Wiltshire, Counsel for DIRECTV, to Marlene H.
Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1-2 and Attachment at 1 (Jan. 18, 2013) (“DIRECTV/DISH Network Jan. 18 Ex Parte
Letter”).
75 See DISH Network Comments at 3.
76 See DIRECTV Comments at 6-7; DISH Network Comments at 4.
77 See, e.g., Carriage of Digital Television Broadcast Signals: Amendment to Part 76 of the Commission’s Rules;
Implementation of the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999: Local Broadcast Signal Carriage Issues and
Retransmission Consent Issues
, Second Report and Order, Memorandum Opinion and Order, and Second Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 5351, 5355-56, 5358-59, ¶¶ 7-8, 10-11 (2008) (“Carriage of DTV
Signals Order
”); DIRECTV Comments at 7-8, n. 26; DISH Network Comments at 4.
78 Specifically, DIRECTV asks that we adopt a streamlined procedure for granting a waiver of the requirement to
pass through a station’s secondary audio stream in a particular market, if the DBS provider certifies that the spot
beam serving the relevant market does not have sufficient capacity. See Letter from William M. Wiltshire, Counsel
for DIRECTV, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1-2 (Feb. 7, 2013) (“DIRECTV Feb. 7 Ex Parte Letter”).
See also DIRECTV Comments at 7-8. DISH Network argues that “[t]he Commission should establish that, for the
purposes of any new rules for accessibility of emergency information, the available capacity on the relevant spot
beam should be included, among other things, in the determination of whether a DBS provider has the ‘technical
capability’ to carry the [secondary audio channel] of any particular local broadcast station.” DISH Network
Comments at 4. See also DIRECTV/DISH Network Jan. 18 Ex Parte Letter, at 2 and Attachment at 2.
79 DISH Network represents that “DBS providers generally have the technical capability to offer secondary audio
streams for local broadcast stations that they retransmit,” and DIRECTV represents that it currently passes through
the secondary audio streams for the top four network affiliates and PBS in each market and that it “passes through
the secondary audio channel of every station that offers it to DIRECTV today.” See DIRECTV Comments at 5-6;
DISH Network Comments at 3. See also DIRECTV/DISH Network Jan. 18 Ex Parte Letter, Attachment at 1.
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existing waiver process is an appropriate mechanism to address such concerns.80 As we discussed in the
NPRM in the context of Section 203 obligations, the House Committee Report accompanying the CVAA
recognized that DBS providers may face unique technical challenges, including capacity constraints on
spot beams used to deliver local signals, which should be considered when promulgating rules.81 We
believe that the general waiver approach, rather than the “streamlined” waiver procedure suggested by
DIRECTV,82 appropriately balances DBS capacity limitations with the statutory directive to make
televised emergency information accessible to consumers who are blind or visually impaired. We also
note that DBS providers are already required to carry stations’ “[s]econdary audio programming”
pursuant to the requirements governing satellite carriage of broadcast stations in Section 76.66(j) of the
Commission’s rules.83 Thus, if either DBS provider seeks a waiver from the requirement to pass through
a station’s secondary audio channel adopted in this proceeding, it will also have to justify a waiver of this
portion of Section 76.66(j). This makes our adopting the streamlined waiver procedure proposed by
DIRECTV in this proceeding inappropriate because the issue regarding compliance with Section 76.66(j)
of our rules has not properly been raised in this, or any, pending proceeding.
20.
We recognize that small cable systems, particularly those that are analog-only, may face
unique difficulties in complying with the rules adopted herein. Although it did not file comments or reply
comments in this proceeding, the American Cable Association (“ACA”) recently submitted an ex parte
filing in which it requested that the Commission: (1) “[p]ermit hybrid digital/analog systems that do not
have the equipment to pass through the broadcast [secondary audio stream] on their analog service the
option of making emergency information accessible to blind or visually impaired customers through that
system’s digital service by providing eligible customers with set-top boxes at no charge for up to three
analog television sets in their home;” (2) “[p]rovide an exception for all-analog systems that serve 1,000
or fewer subscribers and lack the equipment to pass through broadcast [secondary audio stream];” and (3)
“[d]efer for three years application of the emergency information pass-through requirement for all-analog
systems with more than 1,000 subscribers.”84 ACA filed a subsequent ex parte letter in which it further

80 47 C.F.R. § 1.3. A certification from the Chief Technical Officer that the spot beam serving the relevant market
does not have sufficient capacity to support carriage of the secondary audio would be probative in a request for
waiver. See DIRECTV Feb. 7 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
81 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14741, ¶ 20 and n. 90 (citing House Committee Report at 31) (“[T]he Committee
understands that [DBS] providers may have different technical limitations, such as capacity constraints on spot
beams used to deliver local signals, than other [MVPDs]. The Committee intends that the Commission consider
these limitations when promulgating regulations and, if necessary, provide some flexibility where technical
constraints exist.”). See also DIRECTV Comments at 7; DIRECTV/DISH Network Jan. 18 Ex Parte Letter,
Attachment at 1. According to DISH Network, the fact that DBS providers have very limited capacity on the spot
beams used to retransmit local broadcast stations has been well-established in Commission proceedings. DISH
Network Comments at 3-4 (citing Carriage of DTV Signals Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 5356, 5359).
82 Specifically, DIRECTV “urge[s] the Commission to adopt a streamlined procedure for granting a waiver of any
secondary audio carriage requirement in a particular market (including Section 76.66). For example, when a DBS
operator concludes that it cannot honor a request to add a new secondary audio stream from a broadcast station, a
waiver would be granted if its Chief Technical Officer (or equivalent) certifies that the spot beam serving the
relevant market does not have sufficient capacity to support carriage of the secondary audio without compromising
the other broadcast signals carried on that beam. The waiver issued in response to such certification would remain
in place for one year, subject to extension annually if the DBS operator re-certifies that it continues to have
insufficient capacity to support additional secondary audio feeds in that market.” DIRECTV Feb. 7 Ex Parte Letter
at 1-2.
83 See 47 C.F.R. § 76.66(j) (“Each television station carried by a satellite carrier, pursuant to this section, shall
include in its entirety the primary video, accompanying audio, and closed captioning data contained in line 21 of the
vertical blanking interval. . . . Secondary audio programming must also be carried.”).
84 ACA Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter at 3.
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refined its proposals by requesting that the Commission: (1) grant all all-analog systems, regardless of
size, that lack the equipment to pass through secondary audio streams, an additional three years following
the effective date of the revised emergency information requirements to come into compliance; and (2)
address concerns raised with regard to hybrid digital/analog systems that lack the equipment necessary to
pass through secondary audio streams on their analog service “by inviting the filing of class waivers on
behalf of these systems.”85 Although we are sympathetic to the issues raised by ACA, we do not believe
that we have an adequate record upon which to address its proposals in the context of the instant
proceeding. In this regard, we note that there are several issues surrounding ACA’s proposals that have
not been sufficiently developed. For example, should there be an upper subscriber limit on the hybrid
digital/analog systems that are permitted to comply through an alternate means, what notification
requirements should we impose on operators of analog systems to ensure their subscribers are aware of
the operator’s inability to provide the secondary audio stream, and to the extent that cable operators
provide eligible customers with free set-top boxes, how could subscribers certify that they need such an
accommodation? Accordingly, we decline to address ACA’s requests at this time, finding that they
would be better handled through the existing waiver process in which ACA has an opportunity to further
develop its proposals and other interested parties have a sufficient opportunity to comment.86 Should
ACA choose to file a subsequent request for waiver or extension of time,87 we delegate authority to the
Media Bureau to address such a request.88 Given that the requirements we adopt herein do not take effect
for two years, ACA will have sufficient time to seek a waiver in advance of the new requirements taking
effect.
21.
Alternatives to Use of Secondary Audio Stream. We do not adopt any of the alternative
methods for making emergency information accessible to consumers who are blind or visually impaired
that were considered but not recommended by the VPAAC, as described in the NPRM.89 There is little

85 Letter from Barbara S. Esbin, Counsel for American Cable Association, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at
2-3 (Apr. 2, 2013).
86 See Letters from Barbara S. Esbin, Counsel for American Cable Association, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, at 2 (Mar. 22, 2013) (“If the Commission opts to consider relief for operators of smaller cable systems through
a waiver process, ACA suggested that the Commission explicitly welcome the filing of such petitions on behalf of
similarly situated classes of systems to achieve relief comparable to that currently sought.”).
87 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.3 (Suspension, amendment, or waiver of rules).
88 See also id. §§ 0.61 (providing the Media Bureau with authority to “[p]rocess and act on all . . . waiver requests . .
. regarding the areas listed”); 0.283 (“The Chief, Media Bureau, is delegated authority to perform all functions of the
Bureau, described in § 0.61. . . .”).
89 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14740, ¶ 18. For example, the VPAAC considered but did not recommend
alternatives such as: (1) including a shortened audio version of the textual emergency information on the main
program audio; or (2) broadcasting a five to ten second audio message on the main program audio after the three
aural tones to inform individuals who are blind or visually impaired of a means by which they can access the
emergency information, such as a telephone number or radio station. VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency
Information at 8. According to the VPAAC, these alternatives have disadvantages, including interruption to the
main program audio that could be disruptive to viewers and the need for sufficient resources to create and manage
the brief audio messages. Id. The VPAAC also considered but did not recommend other alternatives such as
“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. See id. at 11-12. The VPAAC determined that these alternatives either did not meet the requirements of
the CVAA, relied upon technology or services that are not widely available, or involved additional problems. Id.
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support in the record for these proposals.90 Although NAB, NCTA, and The Weather Channel propose
that we grant covered entities flexibility in the methods used to convey emergency information in a
manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired,91 we believe that mandating the use
of the secondary audio stream to provide an aural representation of visual emergency information is a
better approach to provide consistency for the viewing audience, particularly given the overwhelming
support in the record for this method.92
22.
At this time, the record does not support taking additional steps to address the particular
needs of people with both vision and hearing loss. National Public Radio, Inc. (“NPR”) asks the
Commission to consider alternative methods of presenting visual emergency information to persons with
hearing and visual disabilities, such as use of USB connections on digital televisions to port text of CAP
messages to refreshable Braille devices.93 The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on
Telecommunications Access et al. (“Consumer Groups”) explain that televised emergency information
would remain inaccessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired and deaf or hard of hearing if
we mandate use of the secondary audio stream alone to convey emergency information provided in on-
screen crawls, and that such a result is contrary to the intent of the CVAA.94 According to Consumer

90 See Pierce Comments at 5 (arguing that the other alternatives identified in the NPRM do not merit further
consideration, as they present problems for non-disabled viewers, are not easily delivered, and detract from the
meaningful solution proposed by the FCC); The Weather Channel Comments at 7 (stating that it “is not currently
aware of . . . an alternative means to deliver more detailed aural alerts”); Verizon Reply at 5 (stating that the
Commission should not reconsider alternative methods to convey emergency information that were rejected by the
VPAAC). See also Wireless RERC Comments at 12 (arguing that the Commission should not permit any
alternatives that require individuals who are blind or visually impaired to seek complete information from a
secondary source other than the television). Verizon supports the use of TTS in apparatus as an alternative to use of
the secondary audio stream, but observes that technical challenges must be resolved before TTS can be included in
set-top boxes. Verizon Reply at 3. For the reasons set forth in Section IV.A.1 herein, we do not require covered
apparatus to contain TTS capability. See infra Section IV.A.1.
91 See NAB Comments at 15; NCTA Comments at 5; The Weather Channel Comments at 5; Letter from Jason E.
Rademacher, Counsel for The Weather Channel, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, Attachment at 8 (Jan. 17,
2013) (“The Weather Channel Jan. 17 Ex Parte Letter”).
92 See supra note 52 and accompanying text. But see Wireless RERC Comments at 12 (“Covered entities should be
required to use the primary program stream to transmit both the video and audio of an alert if they do not use a
secondary audio stream.”).
93 Comments of National Public Radio, Inc. at 3 (“NPR Comments”). See also Consumer Groups Reply at 3
(agreeing with NPR’s proposal, but noting that there would need to be a reliable way to transmit the text of the
emergency information to consumers’ televisions). NPR has worked with the Helen Keller National Center in
researching mechanisms to provide accessible media to consumers who are blind or visually impaired. See NPR
Comments at 4.
94 See Consumer Groups Comments at 3-4; Consumer Groups Reply at 2-3. See also Letter from Blake E. Reid,
Counsel to Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (“TDI”), Institute for Public Representation,
Georgetown Law, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1-2 (Jan. 22, 2013) (“Consumer Groups Jan. 22 Ex
Parte
Letter”); Letter from Blake E. Reid, Counsel to TDI, Institute for Public Representation, Georgetown Law, to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 3-4 (Feb. 15, 2013) (“Consumer Groups Feb. 15 Ex Parte Letter”); Letter
from Blake E. Reid, Counsel to TDI, Institute for Public Representation, Georgetown Law, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, at 1-2 (Feb. 27, 2013) (“Consumer Groups Feb. 27 Ex Parte Letter”); Letter from Blake E. Reid,
Counsel to TDI, Institute for Public Representation, Georgetown Law, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1-2
(Mar. 4, 2013) (“Consumer Groups Mar. 4 Ex Parte Letter”); Letter from Blake E. Reid, Counsel to TDI, Institute
for Public Representation, Georgetown Law, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1-2 (Mar. 7, 2013)
(“Consumer Groups Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter”); Letter from Blake E. Reid, Counsel to TDI, Institute for Public
Representation, Georgetown Law, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1-2 (Mar. 11, 2013) (“Consumer
Groups Mar. 11 Ex Parte Letter”). Consumer Groups argue that the VPAAC Second Report did not fully consider
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Groups, this issue can be addressed by requiring the transmission of emergency information in both the
secondary audio stream and via closed captions, which would allow persons who are hearing and vision
impaired to enlarge the font of the crawl and change the font color.95 Although we recognize the
importance of accessibility by individuals who are both blind or visually impaired and deaf or hard of
hearing, we agree with NAB that we do not have a sufficient record on these complex issues to resolve
them in this proceeding.96 Given the importance of these issues, the Commission will consider in the
future what can be done to better serve this community.
23.
Content of Emergency Information. We do not require a verbatim aural translation of
textual emergency information.97 At the same time, however, we require that the information presented
aurally accurately and effectively communicate to consumers who are blind or visually impaired the
critical details about a current emergency and how to respond to it to the same extent that this information
is conveyed textually, i.e., it must provide the emergency information required under Section 79.2(a)(2).98
We note that this requirement is consistent with the VPAAC’s recommendation on this issue.99 NAB,
Kelly Pierce, The Weather Channel, and Verizon agree that the rules should not require a verbatim
translation.100 In particular, NAB argues that broadcasters should have editorial discretion in the aural
(Continued from previous page)
the needs of individuals who are both blind or visually impaired and deaf or hearing impaired. See Consumer
Groups Comments at 5.
95 See Consumer Groups Comments at 6-7; Consumer Groups Reply at 3; Consumer Groups Jan. 22 Ex Parte Letter
at 2. Consumer Groups argue that there would be no additional burden on apparatus manufacturers beyond the
requirements imposed in the IP Closed Captioning Order, and that the burden on video programming distributors
would be minimal because they can generate closed captions through an automated process using the same text from
the visual crawl or from the text processed through TTS. See Consumer Groups Comments at 7. In contrast, NAB
indicates that there would be significant technical complexities involved in providing emergency information
through closed captioning, in addition to other issues that would make use of closed captioning for emergency
information problematic. See NAB Reply at 7-8 and n. 28.
96 See NAB Reply at 6-7. See also NAB Jan. 15 Ex Parte Letter at 2; Consumer Groups Jan. 22 Ex Parte Letter at 2
(noting “that crafting solutions to make emergency information universally accessible to people with both visual and
hearing disabilities is a difficult task that will require careful consideration of the scope of emergency information,
the specific technological methods to be utilized, and the allocation of cost and responsibility among various
stakeholders”). In addition, we do not address here Consumer Groups’ suggestion that we revise Section
79.2(b)(1)(i) of the current rule to require the use of real-time closed captioning for news programs shown in areas
that are outside of the top 25 markets, because this matter is outside the scope of this proceeding and is being
addressed in a separate proceeding before the Commission. See Consumer Groups Comments at 6; Closed
Captioning of Video Programming, Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc., Petition for Rulemaking
, Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, 20 FCC Rcd 13211 (2005).
97 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14738, ¶ 13.
98 See 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(a)(2) and accompanying note. Specifically, emergency information must contain
“[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 C.F.R. §
79.2(a)(2).
99 VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 10 (“The aural information does not need to be
identical to the visual information that appears as a crawl or scroll across the TV screen, but should provide
understandable and comprehensive audible content corresponding to the crawl or scroll.”). See also NPRM, 27 FCC
Rcd at 14738, ¶ 13.
100 See NAB Comments at 13 (stating that the emergency information rules need not require verbatim translation of
crawls, so long as the information provided is substantially the same); NCTA Comments at 5-6 (arguing that the
Commission should require emergency information provided aurally to include only the “critical details,” as defined
in the rules); Pierce Comments at 2-4 (citing scientific research to support the finding that “information presented in
audio form can and in fact should be different from that presented in visual form”); The Weather Channel
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transcription of emergency crawls because requiring a verbatim translation could divert broadcasters’
attention from “complete and rapid dissemination of emergency information to policing the exact
language in their screen crawls,” and could lead to unnecessarily long aural announcements that may
unduly interrupt video description.101 However, ACB and the Rehabilitation Engineering Research
Center for Wireless Technologies (“Wireless RERC”) recommend that the emergency information
provided aurally be identical to the information that is provided textually to “ensure equivalent access”
for consumers who are blind or visually impaired.102 We find persuasive The Weather Channel’s
recommendation that “the standard for the aural alert should be the same as the standard for the scroll
alert, i.e., both should be required to include the critical details of the emergency and instructions about
how to respond.”103 We believe that requiring information presented aurally to accurately and effectively
convey the critical details of an emergency and how to respond to it as required by Section 79.2(a)(2)
appropriately addresses the concerns set forth by ACB and the Wireless RERC that consumers who are
blind or visually impaired have equivalent access to the critical details of emergencies, while at the same
time giving stations and MVPDs flexibility to carry out their responsibilities most effectively. We will
entertain complaints from consumers that aural descriptions of emergency crawls are inadequate in this
regard.
24.
In the NPRM, we also asked what requirements should apply to the aural description of
visual but non-textual emergency information (e.g., maps or other graphic displays).104 Similar to the
approach we adopt for textual emergency information, we find that if visual but non-textual emergency
information is shown during non-newscast programming, the aural description of this information must
accurately and effectively convey the critical details regarding the emergency and how to respond to the
emergency, as set forth in Section 79.2(a)(2).105 We disagree with NAB’s contention that the rules should
(Continued from previous page)
Comments at 5 (“It should not be required that aural emergency warnings be verbatim recitations of the words
contained in the scroll.”); Verizon Reply at 4 (agreeing with NAB that the aural description of an emergency crawl
should be required to provide substantially the same information which could be in summary form). See also The
Weather Channel Jan. 17 Ex Parte Letter, Attachment at 7; Letter from Jason E. Rademacher, Counsel for The
Weather Channel, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1-3 (Feb. 1, 2013) (“The Weather Channel Feb. 1 Ex
Parte
Letter”).
101 NAB Comments at 13.
102 See ACB Comments at 3 (arguing further that there may be circumstances in which more context or description
in addition to the text of the emergency crawl is needed to fully convey information); Wireless RERC Comments at
10 (arguing further that “[a]bbreviations should not be used because they may impede understanding of the
content”).
103 The Weather Channel Comments at 5.
104 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14738, ¶ 13.
105 ACB suggests that the verbal rendition of information provided in maps, photographs, or other illustrative data
should be conveyed meaningfully, using the Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) “effective communication” standard.
ACB Comments at 3. The Wireless RERC argues that covered entities should not exactly replicate non-textual,
visual information in the audio, but should use the attributes of alternative text to describe what is being shown
consistently with the purpose of the image. Wireless RERC Comments at 10-11 (“For example, if a map of Georgia
is shown depicting the direction a storm is moving, and that information is not provided in the text-crawl and
simultaneous audio, then the map should be described, noting the areas impacted by the path of the storm. It is not
necessary to describe in full, the entire map. . . .”). We believe our approach to require the critical details of non-
textual emergency information to be provided is consistent with ACB’s and the Wireless RERC’s proposals because
it will ensure that meaningful and useful details are conveyed to consumers. We also find that, as proposed by ACB,
our approach is consistent with DOJ’s “effective communication” standard that is applied to state and local
governments under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). This ADA standard requires a public
entity to “take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with applicants, participants, members of the public,
and companions with disabilities are as effective as communications with others.” 28 C.F.R. § 35.160(a)(1). As
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not impose any requirement for visual but non-textual emergency information to be described aurally
because such a requirement could “limit[] the [broadcaster’s] use of such graphic information in order to
comply with the rules,” and “could be infeasible if automated TTS is used.”106 The record does not
support a finding that it would be overly burdensome for covered entities to provide an aural description
of the critical details provided in a graphic display (such as a map) for the purpose of conveying
emergency information (e.g., a list of the counties, cities, or other locations affected by the emergency as
shown on the map). Further, even if a broadcaster employs TTS technologies, the critical details of the
emergency information conveyed in the graphic display can be included in the text that will be converted
to speech using such technologies, provided that the description of non-textual emergency information is
inserted as text before the TTS conversion takes place. Accordingly, we require that an aural description
of such emergency information be provided on the secondary audio stream.
25.
We require that emergency information provided aurally on the secondary audio stream
be conveyed at least twice in full to ensure that consumers are able to hear all of the information after they
switch from the main program audio to the secondary audio stream. Commenter Kelly Pierce explains
that “many blind people are tuned to the main audio stream because of its superior audio quality,” and
these individuals will need time to switch from the main program audio to the secondary audio stream to
obtain emergency information.107 For this reason, Mr. Pierce recommends, and no one opposes, that the
Commission require a delay in providing emergency information on the secondary audio stream or,
alternatively, require the information to be provided immediately on the secondary audio stream but
repeated so that consumers who are blind or visually impaired can hear it at least twice.108 Because there
may be individuals who are blind or visually impaired who are already tuned to the secondary audio
stream (e.g., for video description), we do not think it is appropriate to impose a delay on airing
emergency information on the secondary audio stream. Instead, we believe the better approach is to
require covered entities to convey emergency information at least twice on the secondary audio stream so
that individuals switching from the main program audio will be able to hear the emergency information in
its entirety. To better assist consumers who are blind or visually impaired, we encourage providers of
emergency information, in appropriate circumstances and at their discretion, to convey the emergency
information more than twice. This would be particularly appropriate during portions of the day when the
secondary audio stream is silent or merely duplicates the main program audio, because there would be no
potential to disrupt the provision of video-described programming on the secondary audio channel during
those times, a concern that was raised generally by NAB,109 and because individuals who are blind or
visually impaired can switch from the secondary audio channel to the main program audio if they prefer
to hear audio associated with the underlying programming.
26.
Priority of Emergency Information. We find that emergency information should be
prioritized over all other content on the secondary audio stream. Thus, we revise Section 79.2 to require
that aural emergency information supersede all other programming on the secondary audio stream,
including video description, foreign language translation, or duplication of the main audio stream.110
(Continued from previous page)
noted above, in paragraph 23, we similarly require the emergency information provided aurally to be as accurate and
effective as is the emergency information conveyed textually for people who are able to see. See supra ¶ 23.
106 NAB Comments at 13. See also Verizon Reply at 4 (arguing that the Commission should not impose specific
requirements for how a map should be aurally communicated, because that determination should be left to the
broadcasters).
107 Pierce Comments at 2.
108 Id.
109 See NAB Comments at 7-8, 15.
110 See infra Appendix B (Final Rules), § 79.2(b)(5). See also NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14738-39, ¶ 14. NAB argues
“that a video-described program intended to count toward a broadcaster’s quarterly requirement will still count, even
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Commenters resoundingly support having emergency information take priority over video description or
any other content that may be present on the secondary audio stream.111 Currently, the Commission’s
rules prohibit emergency information from blocking video description, and they prohibit video
description from blocking emergency information provided by means other than video description.112
Because textual emergency information will be conveyed aurally utilizing the same audio stream as used
for video description, the VPAAC recommended eliminating the proscription against emergency
information blocking video description.113 In accordance with the VPAAC’s recommendation, we delete
the proscription against emergency information blocking video description.114 In the NPRM, we proposed
to amend Section 79.2(b)(3)(ii) of the current rule to read: “Any video description provided should not
block any emergency information.”115 After further consideration of this issue, however, we believe that
use of the term “supersede” here is more appropriate than use of the term “block,” because “supersede”
more appropriately applies to the insertion and prioritization of aural programming on the secondary
audio stream.116 Thus, we require covered entities to ensure that aural emergency information provided in
(Continued from previous page)
if it is interrupted by an aural conveyance of emergency information that appears in an on-screen crawl.” NAB
Comments at 16, n. 41. We agree with NAB. Once a covered entity goes to the expense and effort to comply with
our video description rules for a particular program, that program should count toward that entity’s video description
total even if the video description is partially or wholly interrupted by aural emergency information.
111 See ACB Comments at 3 (arguing that there is no circumstance in which either video description or alternate
language programming should supersede emergency information); AT&T Comments at 3, 6 (arguing that aural
emergency information should override all other audio programming on the secondary audio stream, including video
description or foreign language); Pierce Comments at 4 (“[I]t is necessary to interrupt any other audio including
foreign language translation, a duplicate of the main audio or to play the emergency message when there is normally
silence on the secondary audio stream.”); Wireless RERC Comments at 11 (“[T]he Wireless RERC agrees that
emergency content in the secondary audio stream should take precedence over video description of regular
programming.”); CenturyLink Reply at 1 (arguing that emergency information should take priority over video
description and other information that may be provided on the secondary audio stream); Verizon Reply at 4
(agreeing with ACB that aural emergency information should supersede any other content that is on the secondary
audio stream, including video description or foreign language content); Letter from the American Council of the
Blind and the American Foundation for the Blind, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1 (Jan. 24, 2013)
(“ACB/AFB Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter”) (“Emergency alerts need to take priority over programming that is
described.”). But see NAB Comments at 15 (stating that “a balance will be required to ensure the broadcast of
adequate emergency information without unduly interrupting video description”). NAB also states that the rules
should be modified “to eliminate the prohibition on emergency information blocking video description.” NAB
Comments at 15-16. We agree with the majority of commenters that the provision of emergency information, which
is, by definition, “intended to further the protection of life, health, safety, and property,” should be prioritized over
video description, which is typically provided for prime-time and children’s programming. 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.2(a)(2),
79.3(b).
112 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(b)(3)(ii).
113 See VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 10-11. See also 47 C.F.R. § 79.3.
114 See VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 10-11. See also NAB Comments at 15-16.
115 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14738, ¶ 14. See AT&T Comments at 6; NAB Comments at 15-16; Pierce Comments at
4; CenturyLink Reply at 3. The VPAAC recommended that Section 79.2(b)(3)(ii) of the current rule be amended to
read: “Any video description provided should not block any emergency information provided by video description
or by means other than video description.” VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 11. We
proposed in the NPRM to simplify this language as stated above. See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14738, ¶ 14.
116 In contrast, the term “block,” which refers to an obstruction, is appropriate in the context of closed captioning,
where the rules are intended to address the overlap of visually presented information, namely closed captioning and
visual emergency information. See 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(b)(3)(i) (stating that “[e]mergency information should not
block any closed captioning and any closed captioning should not block any emergency information provided by
(continued….)
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accordance with Section 79.2(b)(2)(ii) of our revised rule supersedes all other programming on the
secondary audio stream, including video description, foreign language translation, or duplication of the
main audio stream.117 This change is consistent with the VPAAC’s recommendation and with the record,
which support prioritizing emergency information.
27.
While we find that emergency information should supersede any other content provided
on the secondary audio stream, we do not impose requirements with regard to what should be provided on
the secondary audio stream when emergency information is not being provided, aside from our current
video description requirements. We note that the VPAAC recommends that covered entities use best
efforts to transmit the main program audio on the secondary audio stream when emergency information,
video description, or alternate language audio are not present, rather than maintaining a silent channel.118
We agree with this recommendation and find that this approach would enable consumers to tune to the
secondary audio stream all of the time, instead of needing to switch back and forth from the main
program audio when video description or emergency information is available.119
28.
Provision of Customer Support. We do not at this time require covered entities to
provide specific customer support services to assist consumers who are blind or visually impaired with
accessing emergency information on the secondary audio stream, but we seek further comment on this
issue. Although expressly raised in the NPRM,120 there was little comment on this issue. The American
Foundation for the Blind (“AFB”) argues in favor of imposing requirements for identification and training
of appropriate points of contact to assist with accessing emergency information on the secondary audio
stream.121 On the other hand, AT&T argues that covered entities should have the flexibility to educate
customers on use of the secondary audio stream,122 and NCTA contends that additional rules in this area
(Continued from previous page)
means other than closed captioning”). Although we make no substantive changes to Section 79.2(b)(3)(i) of the
current rule, we make a minor revision to change “should” to “does,” which is the grammatically appropriate word
to use in conjunction with the term “must ensure.” See infra Appendix B (Final Rules), § 79.2(b)(4) (“Video
programming distributors must ensure that emergency information does not block any closed captioning and any
closed captioning does not block any emergency information provided by means other than closed captioning.”)
(emphasis added).
117 See infra Appendix B (Final Rules), § 79.2(b)(5).
118 See VPAAC Second Report: Video Description at 26-27. See also Comments of the Consumer Electronics
Association at 3, 11-12 (“CEA Comments”); NAB Comments at 12; Pierce Comments at 5 (asking the Commission
to mandate that the main program audio be transmitted on the secondary audio stream when no video description or
foreign language translation is present). See, e.g., Letter from Julie M. Kearney, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs,
Consumer Electronics Association, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, Attachment at 2 (Jan. 24, 2013) (“CEA
Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter”). But see NCTA Comments at 13-14 (arguing that the Commission should not mandate that
a secondary audio channel will contain main program audio rather than silence because it would freeze innovation
and because concerns about difficulties switching between streams may be addressed in the proceeding
implementing Section 205 of the CVAA).
119 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14742, ¶ 22.
120 See id. at 14737, ¶ 11.
121 See Comments of the American Foundation for the Blind at 3 (“AFB Comments”) (observing that customer
support services can be “woefully lacking even in the face of clear requirements,” based on experiences in the
Section 255 context).
122 See AT&T Comments at 4, 8-9 (arguing that such flexibility would allow AT&T to develop innovative means of
education, such as accessible videos describing the secondary audio stream, without eliminating the option for
individuals to contact customer service). See also Pierce Comments at 4 (“The Commission should encourage
broadcast stations to inform viewers about the accessible emergency announcements as part of their overall viewer
education about how emergency information is communicated to viewers.”).
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are unnecessary because “cable operators currently provide customer support for handling video
description concerns.”123 Given the lack of detailed comment on this issue, we seek further comment in
the attached Further Notice.124 While we do not prescribe specific requirements for customer support
services at this time, we believe that customer service representatives of covered entities should be able to
answer consumer questions about accessing emergency information. Additionally, in order to make it
easier for consumers to communicate directly with covered entities should they so choose, we encourage
covered entities to provide a point of contact, as well as other information about how to seek assistance,
on their websites and in other informational materials distributed to the public.
2.

Definition of Emergency Information

29.
We do not make any substantive revisions to the current definition of emergency
information. Emergency information is defined in Section 79.2(a)(2) 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.”125 Critical details regarding an
emergency “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.”126 The definition provides “[e]xamples of
the types of emergencies covered,” which “include 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.”127 In the
NPRM, we asked whether the definition of emergency information should be updated to include
additional examples of emergencies.128 Of the two commenters who address this issue, NCTA indicates
that the Commission should not expand the definition,129 and NAB proposes narrowing the definition “to
strike an appropriate balance” with other services provided on the secondary audio stream.130
Specifically, NAB asks us to apply the definition only to “critically urgent information” and to delete
certain categories of emergency information from the list of examples.131 Given that no party favors

123 NCTA Jan. 18 Ex Parte Letter at 2; NCTA Feb. 28 Ex Parte Letter at 2; NCTA Mar. 11 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
See also NCTA Comments at 14.
124 See infra Section V.
125 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(a)(2).
126 Note to 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(a)(2).
127 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(a)(2).
128 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14737, ¶ 11.
129 See NCTA Comments at 6; NCTA Jan. 18 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
130 NAB Comments at 7.
131 See id. at 7-8; NAB Jan. 15 Ex Parte Letter at 2; NAB Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letters at 2; NAB Mar. 8 Ex Parte Letter
at 2; Letter from Ann West Bobeck, Senior VP and Deputy General Counsel, Legal and Regulatory Affairs,
National Association of Broadcasters, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 2 (Mar. 13, 2013) (“NAB Mar. 13
Ex Parte Letter”). Specifically, NAB recommends that we delete “school closings and changes in school bus
schedules resulting from such conditions, and warnings and watches of impending changes in weather” from the
examples of emergency information in Section 79.2(a)(2), because such categories are “helpful, but not critical.”
NAB Comments at 7. See also NAB Jan. 15 Ex Parte Letter at 2; NAB Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letters at 2; NAB Mar. 8
Ex Parte Letter at 2; NAB Mar. 13 Ex Parte Letter at 2. NAB argues that such a revision will “ensure that video
described programming is not continuously disrupted during significant weather events.” NAB Comments at 7.
NAB also asks the Commission to specify that “the emergency crawls to be aurally transcribed under the new rules
(continued….)
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expanding the definition and because the record presents no compelling reason to expand a definition that
has served the public interest for over ten years, we decline to include additional examples in the
definition of emergency information. However, we also do not think it is appropriate to narrow the
definition in the interest of lessening the impact on other services provided on the secondary audio
stream, given the higher priority of emergency information.132
30.
We also specifically inquired in the NPRM whether severe thunderstorms are currently
considered to be emergencies subject to our rule and, to the extent they are covered, whether they should
be added to the list of examples in the rule.133 No commenter addresses this question. While we do not
explicitly add severe thunderstorms to the list of examples, we interpret the current definition to include
severe thunderstorms and other severe weather events because they are similar to other types of
emergencies listed as examples in terms of severity and because these events could threaten life, health,
safety, and property.134
31.
Although we reject NAB’s recommendation that we modify our current emergency
information definition to delete school closings and school bus schedule changes from the list of
examples, we revise the requirements applicable to the provision of such information for purposes of the
rules adopted in this proceeding. As required by the rule, the visual information regarding school closings
and school bus schedule changes aired during non-newscast programming must be made accessible to
individuals who are blind or visually impaired (i.e., there must be an aural tone before the crawl on the
main program audio, and the information conveyed in the crawl must be preceded by an aural tone and
provided aurally on the secondary audio channel), if the school closings and school bus schedule changes
result from a current emergency as defined in Section 79.2(a)(2).135 We leave it to the good faith
judgment of the broadcaster or other covered entity to decide whether school closings and school bus
schedule changes result from a situation that is a current emergency based on its severity and potential to
threaten life, health, safety, and property.136 However, given the potential length of information about
school closings and school bus schedule changes and therefore its potential to interfere with video
description,137 we find that, during a video-described program, covered entities have the option to air a
(Continued from previous page)
will be generally limited to locally-provided (i.e., licensee-provided) information.” Id. at 8. We do not think it is
necessary to adopt NAB’s proposed specification because the rule currently states that Section 79.2 “applies to
emergency information primarily intended for distribution to an audience in the geographic area in which the
emergency is occurring.” 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(b)(2).
132 See supra ¶ 26.
133 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14737, ¶ 11.
134 See 2000 Video Description Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 15250, ¶ 49 (explaining that “[t]hese examples are intended to
provide guidance as to what is covered by the rule and are not intended to be an exhaustive list”).
135 See 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(a)(2). The VPAAC recognized that “there is less time sensitivity involved in accessing []
information” such as weather-related school closings, but also concluded that “[e]mergency information . . . that is
lengthy, concerns threats that are not serious, or does not involve threats to life or property, should be made
accessible in audible format whenever possible.” VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency Information at 8.
136 We will not sanction broadcasters or other covered entities for a reasonable exercise of their judgment as to
whether school closings and school bus schedule changes result from a situation that is a current emergency.
137 See NAB Comments at 7. See also ACB/AFB Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter at 1 (agreeing that “lengthy alerts such as
school closures can impede described content,” and suggesting that “[h]aving one of these types of announcements
per hour when there is described content should suffice”). While we agree with the concern about the potential of
school closing and bus schedule change information to impede video description, we believe that, given the typical
length and duration of these types of announcements, ACB’s and AFB’s suggestion to air this information in full
once per hour may still significantly interfere with video description and, thus, may not be a feasible solution.
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brief audio message on the secondary audio stream at the start of the crawl indicating that this information
will be aired at the conclusion of the video-described programming, and to subsequently provide this
information aurally on the secondary audio stream at the conclusion of the video-described programming.

C.

Responsibilities of Entities Subject to Section 202(a) of the CVAA

32.
Congress directed the Commission to “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.”138 Thus, in the NPRM, we sought comment on
definitions of the terms “video programming providers,” “video programming distributors,” and “program
owners,” and we inquired about the roles and responsibilities of these various entities.139 We address
each of those issues in turn below.
33.
Definition of Video Programming Providers and Video Programming Distributors. We
apply the current definitions for “video programming distributor” and “video programming provider” in
Section 79.1 to the emergency information rule, and we find that it is unnecessary to create a separate
definition for “program owner.”140 The emergency information provision in Section 202(a) of the CVAA
applies to “video programming provider” and “video programming distributor” “as those terms are
defined in [S]ection 79.1” of the Commission’s rules and, accordingly, we need not create new definitions
for those terms.141 NAB supports this approach.142 However, Section 202(a) also references “program
owners” without defining this term.143 In the NPRM, we explained that the definition of “video
programming provider” in Section 79.1 includes but is not limited to a “broadcast or nonbroadcast
television network and the owners of such programming.”144 Thus, we asked whether it is necessary to
separately define a “program owner” for purposes of our implementing regulations, given that the
definition of “video programming provider” in Section 79.1 encompasses program owners.145 No
commenter addresses this specific issue. We also sought comment in the NPRM on whether to define a
“program owner” consistent with the definition of “video programming owner” adopted in the IP closed

138 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(2).
139 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14739-40, ¶¶ 16-17.
140 Section 79.1 defines a “video programming distributor” as “[a]ny television broadcast station licensed by the
Commission and any multichannel video programming distributor as defined in § 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 C.F.R. § 79.1(a)(2). We do not need to apply the
remainder of the “video programming distributor” definition to the emergency information rule, as that portion is
specific to the closed captioning context. See id. (“An entity contracting for program distribution over a video
programming distributor that is itself exempt from captioning that programming pursuant to paragraph (e)(9) of this
section shall itself be treated as a video programming distributor for purposes of this section. To the extent such
video programming is not otherwise exempt from captioning, the entity that contracts for its distribution shall be
required to comply with the closed captioning requirements of this section.”). Section 79.1 also 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.” Id. § 79.1(a)(3).
141 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(2).
142 NAB Comments at 9.
143 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(2).
144 47 C.F.R. § 79.1(a)(3) (emphasis added). See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14739, ¶ 17.
145 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14739, ¶ 17.
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captioning context.146 NAB argues that the Commission should not impose definitions from the IP closed
captioning rules in the emergency information context because “[t]hose definitions are unnecessary and
unhelpful here,” because, for example, “a [video programming owner], such as [a] network or a
syndicator, would not have any knowledge that a licensee was crawling local emergency information over
their programming at the station level.”147 No other commenter addresses this issue. We agree with NAB
that is not necessary to use the definition of “video programming owner” from the IP closed captioning
rule. The record shows that the entities that typically insert emergency information into crawls are
broadcasters, which are already covered as video programming distributors, and that, other than The
Weather Channel, which is both a network program owner and video programming provider, program
owners do not typically create emergency crawls.148 Because the current definition of “video
programming provider” already includes but is “not limited to broadcast or nonbroadcast television
network and the owners of such programming,” we interpret this definition to include the owners of any
“video programming that is intended for distribution to residential households” by a video programming
provider.149 Thus, we see no public interest benefit in creating a separate definition of the term “program
owner.” While not separately defined, however, program owners are subject to applicable accessible
emergency information requirements, as explained below.150
34.
Obligations of Video Programming Providers and Video Programming Distributors. We
revise the emergency information rule to include video programming providers as defined in Section 79.1
(which includes program owners) as parties responsible for making emergency information available to
individuals who are blind or visually impaired, in addition to already covered video programming
distributors. Currently, Section 79.2(b)(1) of our rules provides that video programming distributors must
make emergency information accessible to individuals with visual disabilities, but our rules do not
currently impose related requirements on video programming providers and program owners.151
However, Section 202 of the CVAA directs us to impose accessible emergency information requirements
on video programming providers and program owners, as well as on video programming distributors.152
In the NPRM, we asked for comment on the roles that the various entities listed in Section 202 should
play in ensuring that emergency information is conveyed in an accessible manner.153 We further inquired
whether video programming distributors should hold primary responsibility, with video programming
providers and program owners prohibited from interfering with or hindering the conveyance of accessible
emergency information, or whether certain responsibilities should be allocated to each of the entities

146 Specifically, we sought comment in the NPRM on whether to define a “program 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 Section 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 Section 79.1 of the Commission’s rules.” Id. at 14740, ¶ 17. See also Closed Captioning of
Internet Protocol-Delivered Video Programming: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications
and Video Accessibility Act of 2010
, Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 787, 792, ¶ 7 (2012) (“IP Closed Captioning
Order
”).
147 NAB Comments at 9.
148 See infra note 156 and accompanying text.
149 47 C.F.R. § 79.1(a)(3) (emphasis added).
150 See infra ¶ 36.
151 See 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(b)(1).
152 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(2).
153 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14739, ¶ 16.
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specified in Section 202.154
35.
The record reflects support for allocating responsibility among each of the entities
specified in Section 202.155 A number of commenters emphasize that the allocation of responsibility
should be based on the roles that each entity has with regard to making non-newscast emergency
information accessible. Specifically, MVPD commenters explain that local broadcasters are the entities
that typically create emergency information crawls and scrolls and, therefore, they should be responsible
for providing an aural version of this information on the secondary audio stream.156 According to MVPD
commenters, because MVPDs typically have no role in creating or managing the content of visual
emergency information, they should not be required to produce the information in an aurally accessible
format.157 Instead, these commenters suggest that MVPDs should be required to pass through aural
emergency information that is provided by broadcasters and other video programming providers and
owners.158 This description of the roles of the various entities was not disputed in the record.
36.
We conclude that each entity specified in Section 202(a) should be responsible for
compliance with the emergency information rule, and we revise the portions of Section 79.2 applicable to
accessibility of emergency information for individuals who are blind or visually impaired accordingly to
add video programming providers (which includes program owners) and to more clearly specify the
obligations of covered entities. First, we find that among video programming distributors and video
programming providers, the entity that creates the visual emergency information content and adds it to the
programming stream is responsible for providing an aural representation of the information on a
secondary audio stream, accompanied by an aural tone.159 Second, we find that video programming

154 Id.
155 See, e.g., AT&T Comments at 3, 7 (arguing that Section 202 obligations should be shared by video programming
providers, distributors, and owners); CenturyLink Reply at 3 (agreeing with commenters who support the need for a
“shared responsibility” model in which broadcasters and MVPDs have complementary roles in making non-
newscast emergency information accessible). See also Consumer Groups Reply at 5 (arguing that the Commission
should clarify that the emergency information rules apply to all video programming providers and video
programming distributors subject to Section 79.1 of its rules); Consumer Groups Feb. 15 Ex Parte Letter at 3
(same); Consumer Groups Feb. 27 Ex Parte Letter at 2 (same); Consumer Groups Mar. 4 Ex Parte Letter at 2
(same); Consumer Groups Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter at 2 (same); Consumer Groups Mar. 11 Ex Parte Letter at 2
(same).
156 See AT&T Comments at 3, 7; DIRECTV Comments at 6; DISH Network Comments at 2-3; CenturyLink Reply
at 1, 3-4; DIRECTV/DISH Network Jan. 18 Ex Parte Letter, at 1 and Attachment at 1. NAB explains that television
broadcasters use their news and editorial judgment in deciding to overlay scrolled information onto programming
via “crawls” as needed. NAB Comments at 2. DIRECTV states that it is not aware of any national cable channels
or regional sports networks that provide non-aural emergency information on a localized basis, and that DIRECTV
does not provide such emergency information itself. DIRECTV Comments at 3, n. 8. But see The Weather Channel
Comments at 1-2 (noting that The Weather Channel is a national television network that provides both local and
national weather information, including information on severe weather events).
157 See AT&T Comments at 7; DIRECTV Comments at 4; CenturyLink Reply at 4.
158 See AT&T Comments at 3, 8; DIRECTV Comments at 2, 5; DISH Network Comments at 2; CenturyLink Reply
at 3-4; Verizon Reply at 2; DIRECTV/DISH Network Jan. 18 Ex Parte Letter, at 1 and Attachment at 1; Comcast
Feb. 19 Ex Parte Letter at 2; Comcast Mar. 4 Ex Parte Letter at 1; Comcast Mar. 15 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
159 We do not limit this obligation to video programming providers and program owners as some commenters
suggest because local broadcasters who typically create emergency crawls are “video programming distributors” by
definition, and because we believe that to the extent an MVPD does create a crawl or other visual graphic conveying
local emergency information as defined in Section 79.2 and embeds it in non-newscast programming, it should also
be responsible for making the visual emergency information aurally accessible. See AT&T Comments at 3, 7;
DIRECTV Comments at 6; DISH Network Comments at 2; CenturyLink Reply at 1, 3-4.
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distributors are responsible for ensuring that the aural representation of the emergency information
(including the accompanying aural tone) gets passed through to consumers. This will allow us to take
enforcement action not only against a non-compliant video programming distributor, but also against a
program provider or owner that does not comply with its obligation to make visual emergency
information accessible to consumers who are blind or visually impaired.160 We also revise the rule to
indicate that both video programming distributors and video programming providers are responsible for
ensuring that emergency information supersedes any other programming on a secondary audio channel,
with each entity responsible only for its own actions or omissions in this regard.

D.

Compliance Deadlines

37.
We adopt a deadline of two years from the date of Federal Register publication for
compliance with the emergency information rules adopted herein. In the NPRM, the Commission
inquired as to the appropriate time frame for requiring covered entities to convey emergency information
in a secondary audio stream and noted that the VPAAC did not reach agreement as to recommended
deadlines.161 Few commenters discuss the appropriate compliance deadline, with ACB suggesting a one
year deadline162 and NAB suggesting a phased-in approach ranging from 36 months to 42 months.163
While we note ACB’s explanation that there is an existing infrastructure for providing content via the
secondary audio channel,164 we also find that even stations that already use a secondary audio stream may

160 NAB argues that the rules should ensure that broadcasters’ aural emergency messages are not overridden by aural
messages provided by an MVPD, and that broadcasters should not be subject to a finding of non-compliance if
emergency information provided by the broadcaster is interrupted or overridden by an MVPD carrier. NAB
Comments at 16 and n. 43. We believe our rules address these concerns because they assign liability for non-
compliance based on each covered entity’s acts or omissions, as explained in paragraph 36. To the extent aural
emergency information provided by a broadcaster is interrupted or overridden by aural emergency information
provided by another covered entity, the broadcaster can raise this claim as a defense to any complaint or
enforcement action. In addition, MVPDs are prohibited from altering a broadcaster’s video feed, and the record
indicates that MVPDs do not typically create local emergency information crawls, so we expect this problem to be
extremely rare. See supra notes 157-58 and accompanying text; DIRECTV Comments at 4 (citing 17 U.S.C. §§
111(c)(3), 122(e)). See also 47 C.F.R. §§ 76.62(e)-(f), 76.64(j), 76.92(a).
161 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14736-37, ¶ 11 and n. 61. See VPAAC Second Report: Access to Emergency
Information at 13.
162 ACB Comments at 2. See also ACB/AFB Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter at 1 (requesting an interim solution in the next
12 months).
163 NAB Comments at 19-20; NAB Reply at 5; NAB Jan. 15 Ex Parte Letter at 1, n. 1; Letter from Ann West
Bobeck, Senior VP and Deputy General Counsel, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, National Association of
Broadcasters, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 2 and n. 2 (Jan. 29, 2013) (“NAB Jan. 29 Ex Parte Letter”);
NAB Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letters at 1, n. 1; NAB Mar. 8 Ex Parte Letter at 1, n. 1; NAB Mar. 13 Ex Parte Letter at 1, n.
1. Specifically, NAB proposes a 36-month compliance deadline for broadcasters in the top 25 markets that have a
secondary audio stream. NAB Comments at 19; NAB Reply at 5; NAB Jan. 15 Ex Parte Letter at 1, n. 1; NAB Mar.
7 Ex Parte Letters at 1, n. 1; NAB Mar. 8 Ex Parte Letter at 1, n. 1; NAB Mar. 13 Ex Parte Letter at 1, n. 1. For
broadcasters in the top 25 markets that do not yet have a secondary audio stream, and for broadcasters in smaller
markets, NAB proposes a 42-month compliance deadline. NAB Comments at 19-20; NAB Reply at 5; NAB Jan. 15
Ex Parte Letter at 1, n. 1; NAB Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letters at 1, n. 1; NAB Mar. 8 Ex Parte Letter at 1, n. 1; NAB Mar.
13 Ex Parte Letter at 1, n. 1. Further, NAB requests that the Commission provide the Media Bureau with authority
to grant extensions of an additional six months to one year for broadcasters outside of the top 25 markets that are
unable to meet the deadline. NAB Comments at 20, n. 54; NAB Reply at 5, n. 19.
164 ACB Comments at 2. See also ACB/AFB Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter at 1. But see NAB Reply at 4-5 (explaining
that the infrastructure does not currently exist for secondary audio “merely because the first phase of implementing
video description has commenced,” which Congress recognized by providing a “multiyear ramp-up requirement for
secondary audio service when it established the market based statutory deadlines for video description”) (footnote
(continued….)
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find it necessary to take a number of steps to achieve compliance, such as: (1) implementing software
that transfers crawls into text that can be synthesized into audio; (2) integrating the software with the
station’s computer system; and (3) testing the system.165 However, we find that 36 months is an
unnecessarily long period of time to achieve these steps, given that in prior proceedings we have found
that software and product development, along with time for testing and implementation, are achievable
within a two year period.166 Accordingly, based on our review of the record, we conclude that a
compliance deadline of two years after Federal Register publication is reasonable. We decline to
implement a phased-in approach with a later deadline for stations that do not currently have a secondary
audio stream, because we expect such stations to work concurrently to establish their secondary audio
streams and to take other necessary steps towards compliance.
38.
The Weather Channel Waiver for Emergency Information on Cable Systems. The
Weather Channel expresses unique concerns regarding the compliance deadline. The Weather Channel is
a nationally distributed programming network that provides not only national weather information, but
also localized weather information, including breaking weather news and alerts, to its subscribers
nationwide, which makes it a video programming provider covered by the revised emergency information
rule.167 To ensure that viewers are able to see locally relevant weather information on cable systems,
including information on severe weather emergencies, The Weather Channel has deployed thousands of
its “WeatherSTAR” devices168 in cable headends throughout the country, with six different generations of
these devices in service.169 While the most recent models are capable of providing emergency
(Continued from previous page)
omitted); Letter from David J. Wittenstein, Counsel for The Weather Channel, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, at 1 (Jan. 16, 2013) (expressing support for NAB’s comments regarding the time necessary to comply with the
proposed rules); DIRECTV Feb. 7 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
165 See NAB Reply at 4 (“[T]he Commission’s chosen method for implementing the CVAA requires the
specification, development, manufacturing, acquisition, testing and deployment of entirely new hardware and
software in the broadcast plant.”). But see ACB/AFB Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter at 1 (rejecting broadcasters’ claim that
emergency alerts are created as images, not text and, therefore, that a device to translate those images to TTS must
be created). Contrary to the suggestion of ACB and AFB, the record indicates that broadcasters currently use
graphics machines to generate on-screen crawls and will need to work with vendors to develop an interface solution
that will translate graphics into text. See, e.g., NAB Jan. 29 Ex Parte Letter at 1; NAB Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letters at 1-
2, and Attachment; NAB Mar. 8 Ex Parte Letter at 1-2, and Attachment; NAB Mar. 13 Ex Parte Letter at 1-2, and
Attachment. However, we note that at least one entity already has developed software that turns characters input as
an image into text. See Letter from Larry Goldberg, Director, Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for
Accessible Media (“NCAM”), to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1-2 and Attachment (Jan. 18, 2013)
(“NCAM Jan. 18 Ex Parte Letter”).
166 See, e.g., IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 859, ¶ 122 and n. 495 (“As the Commission has
repeatedly determined, manufacturers generally require approximately two years to design, develop, test,
manufacture, and make available for sale new products.”). See also NCAM Jan. 18 Ex Parte Letter, at 1-2 and
Attachment (noting that NCAM has “developed procedures for enabling real-time conversion of on-screen text into
speech output,” “worked with broadcast stations to make this data available via the secondary audio program,”
developed “methods for linking text with graphics, and for exporting text to speech synthesizers,” and developed
“prototype software utilities that import data from a professional broadcast generator . . . then extract, transform and
prepare it . . . for speech output”).
167 The Weather Channel Comments at 1-2. The Weather Channel also operates Weatherscan, a 24-hour all-local
weather network. Id. at 1.
168 The Weather Channel transmits local weather information for the entire country in a single, satellite-delivered
data stream, and its WeatherSTAR device “filters the national satellite data stream and permits only geographically
relevant information to be delivered to each viewer.” Id. at 2, n. 3.
169 See id. at 2, 4; The Weather Channel Jan. 17 Ex Parte Letter, Attachment at 2, 5.
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information aurally, none is currently capable of using a secondary audio stream to do so.170 The Weather
Channel estimates that it would need at least 30 months to comply with the requirements adopted herein
for cable systems.171
39.
We grant The Weather Channel a six-month waiver beyond our established compliance
deadline of the requirement to provide aural emergency information on a secondary audio stream when
local emergency information is provided visually during The Weather Channel’s programming on cable
systems.172 Thus, The Weather Channel will have 30 months to comply with this requirement. We
conclude that there is good cause to support this waiver because The Weather Channel will need to
upgrade or replace all of its WeatherSTAR devices to provide emergency information aurally on a
secondary stream, as required herein.173 As a condition of the waiver, however, we require that as of the
general two-year compliance deadline, The Weather Channel must provide its local emergency
information on cable systems in a manner that is accessible to individuals who are blind or visually
impaired on devices that are capable of providing aural alerts, but it need not use the secondary audio
channel to do so prior to the end of the waiver period.174
40.
We also grant The Weather Channel a six-month waiver beyond the general compliance
deadline from our rule requiring covered entities to provide all of the critical details of an emergency that
are included in the text when it provides local emergency information visually on cable systems. During
the six-month waiver period, The Weather Channel will be permitted instead to provide a limited aural
announcement about the emergency that is reported.175 We conclude that there is good cause to support
this temporary waiver because, as The Weather Channel explains, if it is required to provide an aural
announcement on its main programming that includes all of the critical details of an emergency and how
to respond, this “would lead to the complete disruption of TWC programming – often for hours at a time

170 See The Weather Channel Comments at 4; The Weather Channel Feb. 1 Ex Parte Letter at 1 (stating that
WeatherSTAR devices “currently lack the capability of generating aural vocalizations of TWC’s visual crawl alerts
on a secondary audio programming channel”). The Weather Channel indicates that approximately 12 percent of
WeatherSTARs could be upgraded to implement a secondary audio channel, while the remaining 88 percent of
devices would need to be replaced to implement a secondary audio channel, at an estimated cost of at least $14
million, which is largely non-recoverable. The Weather Channel Comments at 4-5. See also The Weather Channel
Jan. 17 Ex Parte Letter, Attachment at 7; The Weather Channel Feb. 1 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
171 The Weather Channel Comments at 6-7. See also id. at 7-8 (“In some cases, a brief extension may be warranted
to ensure that the new requirements are implemented in a measured, reasonable way that does not compromise
service for all viewers as the cost for expanding access.”) (footnote omitted); The Weather Channel Feb. 1 Ex Parte
Letter at 4-5. But see The Weather Channel Jan. 17 Ex Parte Letter, Attachment at 8 (indicating that “The Weather
Channel needs 18-24 months to identify and fully implement a solution”).
172 47 C.F.R. § 1.3.
173 Id.; The Weather Channel Comments at 6-7. See also Implementation of Video Description of Video
Programming
, Waiver Order, 16 FCC Rcd 19784 (2001) (granting a limited waiver of the aural tone requirement in
Section 79.2 to MVPDs that receive emergency information warnings from The Weather Channel via its Weather
Star III and Weather Star Jr. computers).
174 The Weather Channel asks for flexibility in how it will make emergency information accessible to individuals
who are blind or visually impaired. See The Weather Channel Comments at 5; The Weather Channel Jan. 17 Ex
Parte
Letter at 8 (“The Weather Channel needs to be able to provide a . . . solution that does not necessarily utilize
the [secondary audio] channel. . . .”); The Weather Channel Feb. 1 Ex Parte Letter at 5.
175 See The Weather Channel Comments at 6 (stating that “[a]t this time, TWC’s most advanced WeatherSTARs
already are capable of providing aural alerts along with on-screen scrolls, but these alerts are very limited, and
certainly are not verbatim duplications of the on-screen scroll alert”); The Weather Channel Feb. 1 Ex Parte Letter
at 3.
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– during many alerts.”176 At the end of the waiver period,177 we require The Weather Channel to be fully
compliant with the emergency information rules adopted herein for all of its programming on cable
systems.
41.
DIRECTV Waiver for Emergency Information from The Weather Channel. We also grant
DIRECTV a 12-month waiver of the requirement to provide aural emergency information when local
emergency information is provided visually during The Weather Channel’s programming on DIRECTV
systems, as well as a waiver of the following requirements on DIRECTV’s systems: (1) providing aural
emergency information on a secondary audio channel; (2) providing all of the critical details of an
emergency that are included in the text; and (3) providing audio functionality on all set-top boxes.178 The
record indicates that DIRECTV faces its own unique challenges to making The Weather Channel’s
localized weather information aurally accessible to DIRECTV’s customers, and that use of a secondary
audio stream to provide detailed emergency information in the DIRECTV context is not feasible. We
believe that these challenges justify additional time for implementation. Currently, DIRECTV has an
“interactive application through which it . . . provides visual emergency information to subscribers as they
watch The Weather Channel.”179 DIRECTV’s application “enables the set-top box to pull localized alerts
from the national Weather Channel feed for the zip code provided by the subscriber,” but currently, “there
is no audio accompanying this information.”180 DIRECTV explains that it needs a waiver for several
reasons. First, if the Commission requires DIRECTV to make The Weather Channel’s localized
information available on the secondary audio stream, DIRECTV says that it would “face considerable

176 The Weather Channel Feb. 1 Ex Parte Letter at 2 (“If TWC were required to provide verbatim vocalizations of
these messages whenever they appear as crawls, TWC’s main programming could be interrupted for hours at a time,
potentially interfering with actual live coverage of the emergency at hand.”).
177 The waivers will expire 30 months from the date of Federal Register publication.
178 The waiver applies only to DIRECTV and not to DISH Network because DIRECTV “provides visual emergency
information to subscribers as they watch The Weather Channel” as a linear program provided by DIRECTV. Letter
from William M. Wiltshire, Counsel for DIRECTV, LLC, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1 (Mar. 7,
2013) (“DIRECTV/DISH Network Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter”). Subscribers are able to do this by accessing an
interactive application via their remote control. Letter from William M. Wiltshire, Counsel for DIRECTV, LLC, to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 2 (Feb. 22, 2013) (“DIRECTV Feb. 22 Ex Parte Letter”). In contrast, DISH
Network does not currently provide visual emergency alerts to subscribers that watch The Weather Channel via
DISH Network’s linear programming. Instead it “offers a standalone application for The Weather Channel, which is
accessible in the interactive features of select DISH set-top box models with a broadband Internet connection” that
“is not integrated with The Weather Channel linear TV channel.” DIRECTV/DISH Network Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter
at 1. Thus, DISH Network is not providing visual emergency information during The Weather Channel’s video
programming that would make it subject to the emergency information requirements adopted herein. Additionally,
while in the cable context discussed above we grant a waiver to The Weather Channel because of the additional time
necessary for it to provide localized emergency information via the secondary audio stream, here we grant a waiver
to DIRECTV and not The Weather Channel because, as DIRECTV explains, “The Weather Channel does not itself
include any textual emergency alert information that would be subject to the rules,” and “[i]t is only the applications
provided by the[ DBS] distributors that make such alerts available at all.” Id. at 2.
179 Id. at 1. See also The Weather Channel Jan. 17 Ex Parte Letter, Attachment at 6-7. The Weather Channel states
that DBS providers “have not traditionally provided access to their application data API.” Id. at 7. See also The
Weather Channel Feb. 1 Ex Parte Letter at 5.
180 DIRECTV Feb. 22 Ex Parte Letter at 1-2. When DIRECTV subscribers are tuned to The Weather Channel, local
weather alerts for the viewing area are “presented as a visual weather alert banner at the top of the screen,”
accompanied by three aural tones, along with a visual direction to press the red button on the handheld remote to
access an alert page with additional detail related to the weather conditions in the area. Id. See also
DIRECTV/DISH Network Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter at 1-2.
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challenges” because it “transmits national cable channel[s] on a nationwide satellite beam.”181 Second,
DIRECTV states that it would need three years to “enable a majority of its set-top boxes with . . .
emergency audio capability.”182 Third, DIRECTV reports that this functionality cannot be implemented
on all DIRECTV set-top boxes.183 Fourth, while it is possible to add audio messages to many of its set-
top boxes to capture the nature of local weather emergencies presented visually on The Weather Channel,
DIRECTV explains that those audio messages cannot be as detailed as the emergency information that is
presented visually because “constraints imposed by the bandwidth available in the satellite network and
processing power in the set-top box, as well as the potential lack of a broadband connection to the
subscriber’s home, limit the amount of information that can be presented aurally.”184
42.
For the various reasons enumerated by DIRECTV, we grant DIRECTV a 12-month
waiver beyond our established compliance deadline of the requirement to provide an aural presentation of
local emergency information that is provided visually during The Weather Channel’s programming on
DIRECTV systems, so that DIRECTV has the extra time it needs to enable audio functionality in its set-
top boxes.185 This waiver will extend until the date 36 months from Federal Register publication. We
believe that there is good cause to permit DIRECTV an additional year beyond the general compliance
deadline to comply with the requirement to provide an aural presentation of The Weather Channel’s local
emergency information because its current set-top boxes are not capable of providing aural emergency
information. DIRECTV states that it will take three years to enable audio functionality in certain set-top
boxes because adding such functionality “require[s] a new design to deliver the necessary audio files, as
well as additional satellite bandwidth . . . .”186 For these reasons, we find a temporary waiver warranted.
We note, however, that we may revoke or modify this waiver if circumstances change such that the
waiver is no longer in the public interest.
43.
We also grant DIRECTV a waiver of the requirement to provide aural emergency
information on a secondary audio channel and the requirement to provide all of the critical details of an
emergency that are included in the text when local emergency information is provided visually during
The Weather Channel’s programming on DIRECTV systems. We are persuaded that national cable
channels are carried on a nationwide satellite beam, not on localized spot beams, and thus, carriage of
localized audio streams for The Weather Channel is not feasible on DIRECTV systems.187 At a
minimum, consistent with DIRECTV’s proposal, we require the aural version of the emergency

181 DIRECTV Feb. 22 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
182 Id. at 3.
183 Id. For example, emergency audio functionality cannot be implemented on set-top boxes used for standard
definition services. Id.
184 DIRECTV/DISH Network Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter at 1. DIRECTV proposes to pre-load audio messages in many
of its set-top boxes that will “capture the nature of the weather emergency.” DIRECTV Feb. 22 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
This approach would involve the capability to provide only a very brief audio message with limited details about the
emergency (e.g., “A tornado watch is in effect for your area”), and would not include more specific information
about the location or times of the emergency. Id. DIRECTV argues that more specific locational information is
unnecessary because the on-screen alert will only be picked up by set-top boxes in the zip codes affected by the
emergency. Id.
185 Id. at 2-3.
186 Id. at 3.
187 Id. at 1. As noted above, DISH Network is not providing visual emergency information during The Weather
Channel’s video programming that would make it subject to the emergency information requirements adopted herein
and, therefore, it does not need a waiver of the requirement to provide an aural presentation of visual emergency
information on a secondary audio stream.
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information that DIRECTV provides to capture the nature of the emergency (e.g., “A tornado watch is in
effect for your area”), and we require DIRECTV to provide that aural version to viewers whose set-top
boxes are associated with zip codes in the affected area. We note that local weather alerts generated by
The Weather Channel’s application are provided only to subscribers in the zip codes affected by the
emergency and, thus, all subscribers, including subscribers who are blind or visually impaired, would
know that the emergency is taking place in the local viewing area.188 We recognize that, as a technical
matter, it is not feasible for DIRECTV to provide more specific information such as individual localities
affected and times of the emergency, because, as DIRECTV explains, currently “the satellite capacity and
other resources necessary to convey that additional information . . . would be prohibitive.”189
44.
Finally, we grant DIRECTV a waiver with respect to the set-top box models on which it
is not able to implement audio functionality for emergency information.190 In this regard, however, we
condition such relief by requiring DIRECTV to provide, upon request and at no additional cost to
customers who are blind or visually impaired, a set-top box model that is capable of providing aural
emergency information. DIRECTV may require reasonable documentation of disability as a condition to
providing the box at no additional cost.191
45.
Thus, as of the date 36 months from Federal Register publication, DIRECTV must
provide an aural presentation of visual emergency information displayed on The Weather Channel.
DIRECTV is not required to use the secondary audio channel to provide an aural presentation of visual
emergency information displayed on The Weather Channel, and it may use limited aural messages, in
accordance with its proposal. Additionally, as explained above, DIRECTV need not provide this
functionality on all of its set-top boxes, but it must provide at no additional cost to customers who are
blind or visually impaired a set-top box model that is capable of providing the aural emergency
information. In granting this waiver, we are guided by Congress’s directive to consider the unique
technical challenges faced by DBS providers when promulgating rules.192 We believe that the costs of
requiring DIRECTV to comply fully with these rules would outweigh the benefits. As DIRECTV has
mentioned, if it “finds that it cannot comply with requirements imposed in this proceeding, it may have to
discontinue [The Weather Channel] application.”193 We believe that DIRECTV is providing a critical
service to its subscribers and we want to ensure that our regulations do not impede its ability to continue
offering these localized emergency alerts. At the same time, we note that we may revoke or modify these
waivers if circumstances change such that the waivers are no longer in the public interest.194

188 Id. at 1-2. See also Letter from William M. Wiltshire, Counsel for DIRECTV, LLC, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, at 1 (Feb. 28, 2013).
189 DIRECTV Feb. 22 Ex Parte Letter at 2. See also DIRECTV/DISH Network Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
190 DIRECTV Feb. 22 Ex Parte Letter at 3.
191 For example, we believe that documentation from any professional or service provider (e.g., a social worker)
with direct knowledge of the individual’s disability would be reasonable. See, e.g., Implementation of the Twenty-
First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Section 105, Relay Services for Deaf-Blind
Individuals
, Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 5640, 5653-54, ¶¶ 31-32 (2011) (“requiring individuals seeking
equipment under the NDBEDP to provide verification from any practicing professional that has direct knowledge of
the individual’s disability,” who “must be able to attest to the individual’s disability”).
192 See House Committee Report at 31; supra note 81 and accompanying text.
193 DIRECTV/DISH Network Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
194 It is possible that the Commission could adopt requirements in its implementation of Sections 204 and 205 of the
CVAA that supersede the terms of this waiver. In that case, DIRECTV must comply with the rules adopted
pursuant to these sections. For example, Section 205 of the CVAA directs the Commission to require that on-screen
text menus and guides for the display or selection of multichannel video programming on navigation devices
(continued….)
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E.

Complaint Procedures

46.
We revise the complaint procedures for emergency information contained in Section
79.2(c) of the Commission’s rules to include video programming providers, to indicate that the complaint
should be transmitted to the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, and to add the Commission’s
online informal complaint filing system as a method of transmitting a complaint to the Commission.195 In
the NPRM, the Commission asked if its proposal to amend the emergency information requirements in
Section 79.2 of the Commission’s rules necessitates changes to the existing complaint procedures.196 No
commenter addresses this issue. Because we are revising the rule to include video programming
providers as responsible parties,197 we revise Section 79.2(c) to indicate that complaints can be filed
against video programming providers, as well as video programming distributors.
47.
Pursuant to the revised rule, a complaint alleging a violation of this section 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, facsimile transmission, telephone
(voice/TRS/TTY), Internet e-mail, audio-cassette recording, and Braille, or some other method that would
best accommodate the complainant’s disability.198 The complaint should include the name of the video
programming distributor or the video programming provider against whom the complaint is alleged, the
date and time of the omission of emergency information, and the type of emergency.199 The Commission
will notify the video programming distributor or the video programming provider of the complaint, and
the distributor or the provider will reply to the complaint within 30 days.200

IV.

SECTION 203 OF THE CVAA

48.
Section 203 of the CVAA directs the Commission to impose certain emergency
information and video description requirements on apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record
video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound.201 The Commission must prescribe these
requirements by October 9, 2013.202 The Section 203 regulations we adopt must include “any technical
standards, protocols, and procedures needed for the transmission of” video description and emergency
information.203 Below we set forth requirements for apparatus pertaining to emergency information and
video description, and we specify what apparatus are subject to these obligations. Our Section 203
discussion is focused on the availability of secondary audio streams because that is both the existing
(Continued from previous page)
provided by MVPDs to their subscribers “are audibly accessible in real-time upon request by individuals who are
blind or visually impaired.” 47 U.S.C. § 303(bb)(1). The CVAA provides that, with respect to this requirement, the
Commission shall provide affected entities with “not less than 3 years after the adoption of such regulations to begin
placing in service devices that comply with the requirements.” Pub. L. No. 111-260, § 205(b)(6)(A)(ii).
195 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(c). The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau reserves the discretion to refer
complaints that reveal a pattern of noncompliance to the Commission’s Enforcement Bureau.
196 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14739, ¶ 15.
197 See supra Section III.C.
198 Infra Appendix B (Final Rules), § 79.2(c).
199 Id.
200 Id.
201 47 U.S.C. §§ 303(u), (z), 330(b).
202 Pub. L. No. 111-260, § 203(d). See supra Section II.
203 Pub. L. No. 111-260, § 203(d).
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mechanism for providing video description and the mechanism adopted herein for making emergency
information accessible. Given our understanding that most covered apparatus already make secondary
audio streams available today, we do not expect the apparatus rules to impose undue hardship on
equipment manufacturers.204

A.

Apparatus Requirements for Emergency Information and Video Description

49.
We codify language comparable to that found in Section 203 of the CVAA to explain
what covered apparatus must do to comply with the emergency information and video description
requirements. Specifically, we require all “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,” to “have the
capability to decode and make available” the secondary audio stream, which will facilitate the following
services: (1) “the transmission and delivery of video description services as required by” our video
description rule; and (2) “emergency information (as that term is defined in [our emergency information
rule, Section 79.2 of this Part]) in a manner that is accessible to individuals who are blind or visually
impaired.”205 It is our understanding that most apparatus subject to the rules already comply with these
requirements.206 In the discussion that follows, we discuss more specifically the compliance requirements
for manufacturers of covered apparatus to ensure that video description services and emergency
information provided via a secondary audio stream are available and accessible to individuals who are
blind or visually impaired.
1.

Performance and Display Standards

50.
Section 203 of the CVAA directs the Commission to “provide performance and display
standards for . . . the transmission and delivery of video description services, and the conveyance of
emergency information . . . .”207 In accordance with the statutory language discussed above, our rules will
require covered apparatus to decode and make available the secondary audio stream, in a manner that
enables consumers to select the stream used for the transmission and delivery of emergency information
and video description services.208 Accordingly, covered apparatus must take any steps necessary to
decode the secondary audio stream used in the provision of these services. We agree with commenters
that, at this time, more specific technical standards might hinder innovation in the marketplace as

204 See also infra Section IV.B.2 (discussing the technical feasibility and achievability limitations to the apparatus
requirements).
205 47 U.S.C. § 303(u)(1). We note that the regulatory text adopted herein includes certain minor modifications
from that proposed in the NPRM, in an effort to better correspond to the statutory language. See infra Appendix B
(Final Rules), § 79.105(a).
206 See, e.g., NCTA Comments at 11 (“customers today can receive video description provided by broadcast stations
and cable networks in a second audio stream on equipment supplied by cable operators”) (citing VPAAC Second
Report: Video Description at 13-14); CEA Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter at 2 (“most DVD players support multiple audio
streams”); DIRECTV/DISH Network Jan. 18 Ex Parte Letter at 1 (“Because both DIRECTV and DISH Network
carry the secondary audio feed of many broadcasters across the country, they will be able to implement a regime that
uses such feeds virtually seamlessly for those stations.”); Comcast Mar. 4 Ex Parte Letter at 1 (“We noted that
Comcast today passes through the secondary audio stream for all its cable services and supports access to secondary
audio in its set-top boxes.”); Comcast Mar. 15 Ex Parte Letter at 1 (same).
207 47 U.S.C. § 330(b).
208 Proposals regarding accessible user interfaces are outside the scope of this proceeding; they will be covered by
the forthcoming proceeding implementing Sections 204 and 205 of the CVAA. See Consumer Groups Reply at 4;
Verizon Reply at 2-3; Sections 204 and 205 Public Notice.
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manufacturers develop improved means of decoding and making available the secondary audio stream.209
Our record-based understanding210 that most covered apparatus already enable customers to access the
secondary audio stream, in the absence of any specific requirement, demonstrates that specific, as
opposed to general, performance and display standards are not currently needed.211 As the Consumer
Electronics Association (“CEA”) notes, declining to adopt specific performance and display standards
here is consistent with the ACS Order, in which the Commission adopted general performance objectives
instead of more specific criteria.212
51.
We do not require apparatus to contain any TTS capability at this time, although we do
not prohibit manufacturers from including TTS capability in an apparatus.213 In the NPRM, we sought
comment on whether apparatus should have the capability to make textual emergency information audible
through the use of TTS.214 Commenters strongly object to imposing such a requirement on apparatus
because compliance would be costly, and because requiring apparatus itself to convert a text crawl into
audio through the use of TTS would change the device from having a passive role of passing through
information to having an active role of creating the oral emergency message from the text version.215

209 See CEA Comments at 10-11; ESA Comments at 5-6; Reply Comments of the Consumer Electronics Association
at 5 (“CEA Reply”); Reply Comments of CTIA-The Wireless Association at 2 (“CTIA Reply”); CEA Jan. 24 Ex
Parte
Letter at 2; Letters from Julie M. Kearney, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, CEA, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, at 1-2 (Feb. 1, 2013) (“CEA Feb. 1 Ex Parte Letters”); Letters from Julie M. Kearney, Vice
President, Regulatory Affairs, CEA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1-2 (Feb. 8, 2013) (“CEA Feb. 8 Ex
Parte
Letters”). See also NCTA Comments at 7 (“Section 203 . . . was not meant to be another provision by which
the Commission could impose new obligations – technical or otherwise – on cable operators’ provision of video
description”) (footnote omitted); TIA Comments at 6, 10-11 (stating that any required “specific capabilities” should
allow maximum flexibility, and proposing that the Commission adopt industry-developed technical standards as safe
harbors for compliance but not specifying what those standards should include). One commenter argues that the
Commission should establish basic quality standards for the provision of video description. See Pierce Comments at
5. However, the issue of quality standards for video description is outside the scope of this proceeding. In any
event, the Commission “will invite comments on the quality of video description when we conduct the inquiry that
will inform our first report to Congress under the CVAA.” 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11871, ¶
50.
210 See supra note 206.
211 See, e.g., NCTA Comments at 2, 8.
212 Implementation of Sections 716 and 717 of the Communications Act of 1934, as Enacted by the Twenty-First
Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010
, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 14557, 14647-48, ¶¶ 211-12 (2011) (“ACS Order”); CEA Comments at 10; CEA Reply at
5.
213 In the context of the requirements adopted pursuant to Section 202 of the CVAA, we provide qualitative
standards for TTS for covered entities that choose to use TTS. See supra Section III.B.1. We do not impose such
qualitative standards on TTS contained in apparatus unless entities subject to the emergency information
requirements adopted herein pursuant to Section 202 of the CVAA rely on TTS in apparatus to meet their
obligations. For example, a cable operator might rely on TTS capability in the set-top box to convert emergency
text into aural format. In such situations, the qualitative standards for TTS set forth in revised Section 79.2 of our
rules will apply to an entity’s use of the TTS capability in the apparatus. See infra Appendix B (Final Rules), §
79.2(b)(2)(ii). This approach is supported by the fact that it is the entities subject to Section 79.2 of our rules who
are obligated to create the aural version of the emergency information, and not the apparatus.
214 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14741-42, ¶ 20.
215 See AT&T Comments at 3-4, 9; CEA Comments at 3, 11; ESA Comments at 6-7; NCTA Comments at 9; TIA
Comments at 6; CEA Reply at 6; CTIA Reply at 2, 7-8; Verizon Reply at 4. Certain of these commenters also argue
that TTS may not yet be sufficiently reliable. See AT&T Comments at 4, 9; CEA Comments at 3, 11; TIA
Comments at 6; CEA Reply at 5.
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Based on these comments, we find that the costs of requiring apparatus manufacturers to include TTS
capability would outweigh the benefits, given that other entities are already required to ensure that
emergency information is converted from text format to an aural format. Although we do not, at this
time, require apparatus to contain any TTS capability, we may revisit this issue in the future if
circumstances evolve such that requiring TTS capability in the apparatus would be a preferable approach.
2.

Recording Devices

52.
Similar to our treatment of apparatus that receive or play back video programming, as
discussed above, we codify language comparable to that found in Section 203 of the CVAA to explain
what recording devices must do to comply with the emergency information and video description
requirements. Specifically, we require all “apparatus designed to record video programming transmitted
simultaneously with sound, if such apparatus is manufactured in the United States or imported for use in
the United States,” to enable the presentation or the pass through of the secondary audio stream, which
will facilitate the provision of “video description signals, and emergency information (as that term is
defined in [Section 79.2 of this Part]) 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.”216 In the NPRM,
the Commission asked what specifically it should require of recording devices to “enable the rendering or
the pass through of” video description and emergency information.217 In compliance with the statutory
directive, we require that recording devices store the secondary audio stream along with the recorded
video, such that a consumer may switch between the main program audio and the secondary audio stream
when viewing recorded video programming.218 The fact that most modern recording devices already
record programming with the secondary audio stream demonstrates that this requirement is not
burdensome, and that more specific standards are not currently needed.219 ACB states that the
Commission “should require manufacturers who develop devices which record video programming to
record the described content along with the nondescribed stream,” and “that the manufacturers must allow
the user to choose whether to record the described content via accessible means.”220 We understand
ACB’s concern to be ensuring that the secondary audio stream is accessible to consumers who record
video programming. Because in modern recording devices the recording of the secondary audio stream

216 47 U.S.C. § 303(z)(1). ACB supports recording device requirements. See ACB Comments at 3. Although the
NPRM proposed rule language that would have required recording devices to “enable the rendering or the pass
through of video description signals and emergency information,” we note that the term “rendering” is generally
inapplicable to audio, and thus we substitute the term “presentation.” See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14755.
217 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14742, ¶ 21.
218 See Pierce Comments at 5.
219 See CEA Comments at 11 (“CEA believes that most modern recording devices already have the ability to store
both main program audio and secondary stream audio when capturing video programs, which obviates the need for
specific regulations.”); NCTA Comments at 9 (“When a cable customer elects to record a particular program on an
operator-supplied DVR, the DVR records both the primary and secondary audio streams embedded in that
program.”); CEA Reply at 6; Verizon Reply at 4-5. We disagree, however, with arguments that the Commission
need not prescribe any recording device requirements because of current compliance. See CEA Comments at 3, 11;
CEA Reply at 6; Verizon Reply at 4-5 (“Moreover, as NCTA notes, there is no need to adopt rules for recording
devices to enable rendering or pass through of video description and emergency information, as operator supplied
DVRs record both the primary and secondary audio streams embedded in that program giving the customer [the]
ability [to] choose to view/listen to the descriptive and emergency information.”) (footnote omitted). The CVAA
directs the Commission to impose requirements on recording devices, and such requirements will ensure that
devices will continue to operate as needed to comply with the statute.
220 ACB Comments at 3.
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occurs automatically,221 it is unnecessary to require that consumers be permitted to choose whether to
record a secondary audio stream.
53.
In the NPRM, the Commission asked how the rules relating to emergency information
should apply to recording devices, given that emergency information is, by its nature, extremely time
sensitive.222 Under the rules adopted herein, all covered apparatus must make available the secondary
audio stream, which is used for both video description and emergency information; thus, there would be
no practical impact if we were to say that recording devices are not required to record and make available
emergency information carried on a secondary audio stream. Although ACB would prefer that recording
devices record video description instead of emergency information,223 we find that such an approach
would not be possible given that the apparatus does not play any role in deciding the content of the
secondary stream, which may contain emergency information that has overridden video description.224
Additionally, we find that consumers may play back recorded programming moments after it was first
shown on television, and thus, emergency information may still be relevant.225 The Entertainment
Software Association (“ESA”) notes potential harm of emergency information appearing during recorded
programming because “a casual observer of recorded programming may be misled or confused by
information that is no longer current or relevant.”226 On balance, we find that it is preferable to ensure
that consumers have access to recorded emergency information that may still be relevant, rather than
attempting to avoid the seemingly attenuated possibility that a casual observer may not realize that the
programming is recorded and could be misled by outdated emergency information.
3.

Customer Support Services

54.
We do not at this time require MVPDs that provide set-top boxes and manufacturers of
other covered apparatus to provide specific 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, but we seek further comment on this issue below.
Although expressly raised in the NPRM,227 there was little comment on this issue. As in the context of
customer support services pursuant to Section 202 of the CVAA, AT&T argues that covered entities
should have the flexibility to educate customers on the use of the secondary audio stream,228 and NCTA
contends that additional rules in this area are unnecessary because “cable operators currently provide

221 See, e.g., NCTA Comments at 9 (“When a cable customer elects to record a particular program on an operator-
supplied DVR, the DVR records both the primary and secondary audio streams embedded in that program.”).
222 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14742, ¶ 21.
223 See ACB Comments at 4.
224 See Letter from Diane B. Burstein, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, NCTA, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, at 2 (Feb. 6, 2013) (“We also clarified that when a cable customer elects to record a particular
broadcast program on an operator-supplied DVR, the DVR records the primary and secondary audio stream as it is
transmitted by the broadcast station. Thus, if a broadcaster is transmitting emergency information in the secondary
audio stream in lieu of video description, the emergency information will be recorded.”) (footnote omitted).
225 See Pierce Comments at 5; Consumer Groups Reply at 13. See also infra Section IV.B.3 (discussing
applicability of the apparatus requirements to removable media players).
226 ESA Comments at 5, n. 14.
227 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14744-45, ¶ 28.
228 See AT&T Comments at 4, 8-9 (urging a flexible approach that would permit manufacturers to determine how to
educate consumers on the use of the secondary audio stream).
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customer support for handling video description concerns.”229 Given the lack of detailed comment on this
issue, we seek further comment in the attached Further Notice.230 While we do not prescribe specific
customer service requirements on manufacturers or MVPDs at this time, we believe that manufacturers’
and MVPDs’ customer service representatives should be able to answer consumer questions about
accessing the secondary audio stream with respect to the devices each supports. Additionally, in order to
make it easier for consumers to communicate directly with covered entities should they so choose, we
encourage covered entities to provide a point of contact, as well as other information about how to seek
assistance, on their websites and in other informational materials distributed to the public.
4.

Interconnection Mechanisms

55.
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 make encoded video description and emergency information
audible.”231 In the NPRM, we sought comment on our understanding that devices already use
interconnection mechanisms that make available audio provided via a secondary audio stream, and that no
further steps would be needed to implement this requirement.232 NCTA, the only commenter that
addresses this issue, states that no further steps are needed to implement this statutory provision because
“[o]perator-supplied set-top boxes already use interconnection mechanisms that make available audio
provided via the secondary audio stream.”233 We find that we need not require apparatus, including
operator-supplied set-top boxes, to do more than that. In order to fulfill the interconnection mechanism
provision of the CVAA and to provide clarity to the industry, however, we adopt a rule that states that
covered apparatus must use interconnection mechanisms that make available the audio provided via the
secondary audio stream. In doing so, it is our expectation, based on the record, that apparatus
manufacturers will not need to take any additional steps to comply with this rule.
5.

Issues from 2011 Video Description Order

56.
In the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on three issues that arose in the 2011
video description proceeding. These issues pertain to equipment features that present challenges for
video programming distributors and consumers. For the reasons discussed below, we decline to address
these issues at this time, although we seek further comment on the first issue in the Further Notice.
57.
First, the NPRM sought comment on whether the Commission should impose a
requirement that broadcast receivers detect and decode tracks marked for the “visually impaired.”234 The
issue arose in the 2011 Video Description Order, when the Commission observed that viewers with
digital television sets, as well as other viewers, may be unable to find and activate an audio stream tagged
as “visually impaired” (“VI”), which is the tag used for video description as dictated by the digital
television standard, which is known as the ATSC standard.235 The Commission also cited comments

229 NCTA Jan. 18 Ex Parte Letter at 2; NCTA Feb. 28 Ex Parte Letter at 2; NCTA Mar. 11 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
See also NCTA Comments at 14. AFB supports customer service requirements for covered entities, but it does not
explain whether this would pertain to entities covered by Section 203 of the CVAA as well as those covered by
Section 202. See AFB Comments at 3.
230 See infra Section V.
231 47 U.S.C. § 303(z)(2).
232 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14742, ¶ 23.
233 NCTA Comments at 10.
234 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14742-43, ¶ 24.
235 See 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11863, ¶ 30. A tag, in this context, refers to the metadata
accompanying an audio stream that signals to the receiving device what type of audio stream it is.
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indicating that many legacy televisions may be compatible only with audio streams tagged as “complete
main” (“CM”).236 Further, it has been reported that some television receivers do not properly handle two
audio tracks if they are both identified as “English,” and thus to ensure compatibility, broadcasters often
tag the video description stream as a foreign language, even though the content of the stream is video
description. As a result of the tagging issues described above, consumers may find it difficult to identify
and select audio streams containing video description. In the 2011 video description proceeding, the
Commission decided that this issue would be better addressed in a later proceeding.237 CEA and NAB
argue that we should not address the issue of tagging and decoding of secondary audio streams in this
proceeding, particularly given the statutory deadlines imposed by the CVAA.238 We recognize that this is
an important issue, but we also recognize that we currently lack a detailed record on these very technical
matters. Accordingly, we seek comment on this issue in the Further Notice below.239 In the interim we
expect local broadcasters to coordinate with manufacturers to ensure that consumers can easily access
video description and emergency information provided on a secondary audio stream,240 and we expect
voluntary standards setting bodies to explore how best to impose a consistent tagging scheme.
58.
Second, the NPRM sought input on the comment of Dolby Laboratories, Inc. in the 2011
video description proceeding 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.241 Commenters specifically
object to the “receiver-mix” proposal, claiming that it is inconsistent with the current digital television
standard and has been considered and rejected by the industry.242 Further, CEA and NAB explain that we
should not address the “receiver-mix” issue in this proceeding, particularly given the statutory deadlines
imposed by the CVAA.243 We agree, and thus we do not address this issue here.
59.
Third, the NPRM asked if and how the Commission should address equipment limitations
that may discourage video programming distributors from providing more than one additional audio
channel.244 In the 2011 Video Description Order, the Commission noted that such limitations may

236 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11863, n. 131.
237 Id. at 11863, ¶ 31 and n. 133.
238 CEA Comments at 4, 14; NAB Comments at 17; CEA Reply at 7; CEA Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter at 2; CEA Feb. 1
Ex Parte Letters at 2; CEA Feb. 8 Ex Parte Letters at 2.
239 See infra Section V.
240 See NCTA Comments at 12; NAB Reply at 9.
241 See 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11872, n. 208; Comments of Dolby Laboratories, Inc., MB
Docket No. 11-43, at 3 (filed Apr. 28, 2011); NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14743, ¶ 25.
242 See CEA Comments at 15 (“The specifications for mixing the narrative audio track with the regular audio track
in the receiver were removed in the 2010 revision of the ATSC Digital TV Standard, A/53, and consequently the
standard no longer specifies the capability of providing a receiver-mix.”); NAB Comments at 18, n. 50 (“Further, as
the Commission noted in the 2011 Video Description Order, the Commission’s rules prohibit it from preemptively
incorporating changes to a third party standard, which would appear to be required to adopt Dolby’s ‘receiver-mix’
proposal.”); Verizon Reply at 7 (“The concept of mixing the narrative audio track with the regular audio track in the
receiver has been considered and rejected by the industry.”).
243 CEA Comments at 4, 14; NAB Comments at 17-18; CEA Reply at 7; CEA Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter at 2; CEA
Feb. 1 Ex Parte Letters at 2; CEA Feb. 8 Ex Parte Letters at 2. Some commenters also discuss the issue of making
surround sound available on the secondary audio stream. One commenter supports such a requirement. See Pierce
Comments at 5. Others explain that capacity constraints would lead to difficulty in providing two full surround
sound audio streams. See DIRECTV Comments at 8, n. 27; NAB Comments at 18.
244 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14743-44, ¶ 26.
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prevent some viewers from accessing a third audio channel, even if a video programming distributor
provides such a channel.245 CEA and NAB explain that we should not address these equipment
limitations in this proceeding, particularly given the statutory deadlines imposed by the CVAA.246 We
agree that we should not at this time address equipment limitations that may prevent consumers from
accessing a third audio channel. In the NPRM, the Commission asked specifically whether it should
address this problem by mandating compliance with 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.”247
CEA explains that CEA-CEB21 is a recommended practice with no normative requirements, and that it is
not designed for use as a rule for which compliance is enforced.248 Accordingly, we do not impose CEA-
CEB21 as a required compliance standard. We expect the industry to continue its work to develop
products that are capable of delivering multiple ancillary audio streams.

B.

Apparatus Subject to Section 203 of the CVAA

1.

General Scope of the Apparatus Requirements

60.
The rules adopted in this proceeding pursuant to Section 203 of the CVAA apply only to
apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record video programming provided by the entities subject to
our existing emergency information rules (as set forth in Section 79.2) and our existing video description
rules (as set forth in Section 79.3).249 In the NPRM, the Commission proposed to apply the video
description and emergency information requirements adopted pursuant to Section 203 of the CVAA only
to apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record “television broadcast services or MVPD
services.”250 Several commenters support the proposal to limit the apparatus requirements adopted herein
to apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record television broadcast services or MVPD services.251

245 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11864, ¶ 32.
246 CEA Comments at 4, 14; NAB Comments at 17-18; CEA Reply at 7; CEA Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter at 2; CEA
Feb. 1 Ex Parte Letters at 2; CEA Feb. 8 Ex Parte Letters at 2. Other commenters also object to Commission-
mandated technical standards with respect to the provision of multiple audio services. See ESA Comments at 6 and
n. 17; NCTA Comments at 12-13 (explaining that the cable system architecture today only supports two channels,
and providing an additional stream would be “a significant and costly undertaking”); Verizon Reply at 7 (agreeing
with NCTA that providing multiple simultaneous ancillary audio services would be a costly undertaking).
247 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.
248 CEA Comments at 15.
249 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.2, 79.3. Both rules apply to television broadcast stations, MVPDs, 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.” See id. §§ 79.1(a)(2), 79.2(a)(1), 79.3(a)(5). Although Sections 79.2 and 79.3
impose requirements on covered entities, we find it more useful in some instances to discuss the scope of the rules in
terms of the video programming provided by covered entities, as it is such programming that must be provided
aurally. See also supra Section III.A. We clarify that at this time, the apparatus requirements adopted herein are not
triggered by an apparatus receiving, playing back, or recording video programming available for viewing on an
Internet website, even if such programming is provided by a covered entity. We also clarify that at this time, the
apparatus requirements adopted herein do not apply to mobile devices that do not include receivers used to access
television broadcast or MVPD services. The Further Notice poses additional questions about applicability of the
requirements adopted herein to mobile devices. See infra Section V. As explained infra paragraph 74, the apparatus
requirements adopted herein apply to mobile DTV apparatus.
250 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14745-46, ¶ 30.
251 See CEA Comments at 4; ESA Comments at 1; NCTA Comments at 15; TIA Comments at 2, 7; CEA Reply at 3-
4; CTIA Reply at 2-3, 5; Verizon Reply at 5.
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Consumer Groups, however, point out that the CVAA directs the Commission to impose emergency
information requirements on video programming providers and distributors as defined in Section 79.1 of
its rules, which includes more than just broadcasters and MVPDs.252 Upon further consideration, we find
no basis to deviate from our existing definition, and we agree with the Consumer Groups that we should
not exclude from coverage video programming provided by the third category of video programming
distributors, which is “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.”253 We thus
conclude that it is more appropriate to extend the rules adopted in this proceeding pursuant to Section 203
of the CVAA to apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record video programming provided by
broadcasters, MVPDs, 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.”
61.
We disagree with Consumer Groups’ contention that the apparatus rules should apply as
broadly here as they did in the IP closed captioning proceeding.254 We note that the CVAA does not
define the term “apparatus.” Thus, we must give meaning to the term in a manner that best effectuates the
intent of Congress and the purposes of the statute. We recognize that the CVAA’s legislative history
indicated Congress’ intent 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.”255 However, given the current scope of Sections 79.2 and 79.3 of our
rules,256 we decline at this time to adopt rules to encompass apparatus that are not designed to receive,
play back, or record video programming provided by entities subject to our existing emergency
information and video description rules. Such a limitation is reasonable because it ensures that consumers
are able to use apparatus to access a secondary audio stream that relays programming that includes

252 See Consumer Groups Reply at 5-6 (explaining that the definition of “video programming distributor” includes
television broadcast stations, MVPDs, 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,” and that the
definition of “video programming provider” includes video programming distributors as well as “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”); Consumer Groups Feb. 27
Ex Parte Letter at 2; Consumer Groups Mar. 4 Ex Parte Letter at 2; Consumer Groups Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter at 2;
Consumer Groups Mar. 11 Ex Parte Letter at 2; 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.1(a)(2)-(3).
253 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.1(a)(2), 79.3(a)(5).
254 See Consumer Groups Reply at 8, 10. See also Consumer Groups Feb. 27 Ex Parte Letter at 2; Consumer
Groups Mar. 4 Ex Parte Letter at 2; Consumer Groups Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter at 2; Consumer Groups Mar. 11 Ex
Parte
Letter at 2. We find unpersuasive Consumer Groups’ claim that “the fact that programming is not required to
be made accessible under Section 202 or other law does not excuse apparatus manufacturers from their obligations
to render accessibility information pursuant to Section 203(a).” See Consumer Groups Reply at 11. Consumer
Groups cite specifically to the Commission’s decision in the IP Closed Captioning Order to extend the apparatus
requirements to DVD players, even though the DVDs themselves may not be required to include captions. See id.
See also IP Closed Captioning Order
, 27 FCC Rcd at 845-46, ¶ 99. In the IP Closed Captioning Order, the
Commission explained that the CVAA explicitly required coverage of apparatus that play back, but do not receive,
video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound, such as DVD players. See id.
255 Senate Committee Report at 14; House Committee Report at 30.
256 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.2(a)(1) (applying the definitions of 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.1 and 79.3 to the emergency information
rules); 79.1(a)(2) (defining “video programming distributor” to include “[a]ny television broadcast station licensed
by the Commission and any multichannel video programming distributor as defined in § 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”); 79.3(a)(5) (defining “video programming
distributor” to include the same categories).
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emergency information and video description yet, at the same time, ensures that we avoid placing undue
and unnecessary burdens on industry. Accordingly, the apparatus requirements adopted herein are
triggered only when the apparatus is designed to receive, play back, or record video programming that is
subject to Sections 79.2 and 79.3 of our rules, i.e., video programming provided by entities subject to
those rules.257
62.
We interpret the term “apparatus” to include the physical devices designed to receive,
play back, or record video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound, as well as software
integrated in those covered devices.258 The NPRM proposed to define apparatus subject to the emergency
information and video description requirements to include “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.”259 As in its petition for reconsideration of the IP Closed Captioning Order,260 CEA
argues that we should use the term “video programming player” in lieu of the term “video player”
because the inclusion of “video players” in the definition of “apparatus” exceeds the scope of Section 203
of the CVAA by failing to limit its scope to video players designed to receive or play back “video
programming,” as that term is defined in the CVAA.261 We find that, substituting the term “video
programming player” for “video player,” as CEA requests, would not appear to provide any further
clarity, as we are not aware of any commonly accepted definition of “video programming player.”262
Nonetheless, to address CEA’s argument that our rules should not reach apparatus that only display video
that does not constitute “video programming,” and to make the language of the rules more consistent with
the statute, we revise the proposal in the NPRM by replacing references to “video players” with “video
player(s) capable of displaying video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound.”263 We

257 The Wireless RERC requests that the Commission investigate, via Public Notice or Notice of Inquiry, the
technical feasibility of providing aural and visual emergency information on live IP-delivered video programming,
including methods for identifying whether the viewing apparatus is within the geographic location of the emergency
situation. Wireless RERC Comments at 13-14. CTIA-The Wireless Association (“CTIA”) responds that the
Wireless RERC’s proposal that the Commission investigate and require the inclusion of emergency information in
live, IP-delivered video programming is beyond the scope of the CVAA. CTIA Reply at 7.
258 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14746, ¶ 31; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 839-40, ¶ 93. As explained
above, in this context, unlike the closed captioning context, we limit the scope of the apparatus requirements to
apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record video programming provided by entities subject to Sections 79.2
and 79.3 of our rules.
259 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14754-55.
260 Petition for Reconsideration of the Consumer Electronics Association, MB Docket No. 11-154, at 3-8 (filed Apr.
30, 2012) (“CEA Recon. Petition”).
261 CEA Comments at 6-8; CEA Reply at 5. The CVAA defines “video programming” as “programming by, or
generally considered comparable to programming provided by a television broadcast station, but not including
consumer-generated media.” 47 U.S.C. § 613(h)(2).
262 We note that in another proceeding, CEA has proposed that we define “video programming player” as “a
component, application, or system that is specifically intended by the manufacturer to enable access to video
programming, not video in general.” See CEA Recon. Petition at 8. See also CEA Comments at 8; CEA Reply at 4-
5; Reply Comments of the Telecommunications Industry Association at 2-3 (“TIA Reply”) (supporting CEA’s
proposal). The definition relies upon a consideration of the manufacturers’ intent, which we find to be inappropriate
here, as discussed below, since it would allow a manufacturer unilaterally to decide whether an apparatus falls
within the scope of the rules. See infra Section IV.B.2.
263 As in the IP Closed Captioning Order, the apparatus rules adopted herein cover manufacturer-provided updates
and upgrades to devices; thus, a device that originally did not include a video player capable of displaying video
(continued….)
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believe that by limiting the scope of our rules to video players that are capable of displaying “video
programming transmitted simultaneously with sound,” we will address CEA’s fundamental concern that
our definition of “apparatus” should be consistent with the CVAA.264
2.

Interpretation of Statutory Terms Incorporated in the Commission’s
Apparatus Requirements

63.
Below we interpret certain statutory terms incorporated in the Commission’s apparatus
requirements. Each of these interpretations is adopted as proposed in the NPRM, and each is consistent
with the approach taken in the IP Closed Captioning Order.265
64.
Designed to Receive, Play Back, or Record Video Programming. Under the CVAA, the
emergency information and video description requirements apply to “apparatus designed to receive or
play back video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound,” and to “apparatus designed to
record video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound.”266 In the NPRM, we proposed to
consider an apparatus to be “designed to” receive, play back, or record video programming transmitted
simultaneously with sound if it is sold with, or updated by the manufacturer to add, an integrated video
player capable of displaying video programming.267 We adopt our proposed definition of “designed to.”
In determining whether a device falls within this definition, we will look to the functionality of the device
(i.e., whether it is capable of receiving or playing back video programming), rather than the subjective
intent of the manufacturer (i.e., the manufacturer’s intent when it designed the apparatus), to determine if
the device is designed to receive, play back, or record video programming.268 CEA argues here, as in its
petition for reconsideration of the IP Closed Captioning Order, that the Commission instead should
consider the manufacturer’s intent in determining what an apparatus was “designed to” accomplish.269
We disagree, because such an approach would allow the manufacturer unilaterally to dictate whether an
apparatus falls within the scope of the rules, which could harm consumers by making compliance with the
apparatus emergency information and video description requirements effectively voluntary.270 As the
Commission stated in the IP Closed Captioning Order, we are persuaded that adopting a bright-line
standard based on the device’s capability will provide more certainty for manufacturers.271
(Continued from previous page)
programming transmitted simultaneously with sound, but that the manufacturer requires the consumer to update or
upgrade to enable video reception or play-back, will be covered by our rules, and our rules equally cover updates or
upgrades to existing video players. See IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 842, n. 376. We would not,
however, hold manufacturers liable for failure to comply with the apparatus requirements adopted herein for devices
manipulated or modified by consumers in the aftermarket. See id.
264 See CEA Comments at 6-7; CEA Reply at 4-5; 47 U.S.C. §§ 303(u)(1), (z)(1).
265 Consumer Groups encourage the Commission to adopt apparatus rules consistent with those adopted in the IP
Closed Captioning Order
. Consumer Groups Jan. 22 Ex Parte Letter at 3.
266 47 U.S.C. §§ 303(u)(1), (z)(1).
267 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14746, ¶ 32; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 842, ¶ 95 (“Our decision to
cover ‘integrated video players’ is consistent with the statutory language of Section 203 of the CVAA which covers
those apparatus ‘designed to receive or play back video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound.’”)
(footnote omitted). A “video player” is the means by which an apparatus actually displays video.
268 See IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 842, ¶ 95.
269 CEA Comments at 7; CEA Recon. Petition at 5-8. See also TIA Reply at 2.
270 Consumer Groups agree that we should not consider the manufacturer’s intent in determining what an apparatus
was “designed to” accomplish. See Consumer Groups Reply at 16-17; Consumer Groups Feb. 15 Ex Parte Letter at
3.
271 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 842, ¶ 95.
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65.
Uses a picture screen of any size. Section 203 of the CVAA applies to apparatus
designed to receive or play back video programming “if such apparatus . . . uses a picture screen of any
size.”272 In the NPRM, we proposed interpreting this phrase to mean that the apparatus works in
conjunction with a picture screen, which is the approach that the Commission adopted in the IP closed
captioning proceeding.273 Commenters did not discuss this issue, and we see no reason to deviate from
the well-reasoned approach adopted in the IP Closed Captioning Order regarding the same statutory
provision. We consider an apparatus to use a picture screen of any size if the apparatus works in
conjunction with a picture screen.274 Thus, apparatus that “use[] a picture screen of any size” include not
only devices that have a built-in screen, but also devices that are designed to work in conjunction with a
screen, such as set-top boxes, game consoles, personal computers, and other receiving or play back
devices separated from a screen.275
66.
Technically feasible. The requirements of Section 203 of the CVAA pertaining to
apparatus designed to receive or play back video programming apply only to the extent they are
“technically feasible.”276 In the NPRM, we proposed to consider compliance with the apparatus
requirements to be technically infeasible if a manufacturer shows that changes to the design of the
apparatus to incorporate the required capabilities are not physically or technically possible.277 We further
proposed that it would not be sufficient to show that compliance is merely difficult.278 These proposals
mirrored the approach adopted in the IP closed captioning context. As explained in that context, because
neither the statute nor the legislative history provides guidance as to the meaning of “technical
feasibility,” the Commission is obligated to interpret the term to best effectuate the purpose of the
statute.279 In the IP Closed Captioning Order, the Commission looked to prior Commission
interpretations of the phrase “technically feasible” and other similar terms in the context of accessibility
for people with disabilities, which similarly relied on whether incorporation of the capability was
physically and technically possible.280 Commenters did not discuss this issue, and we see no reason to
deviate from the reasoned approach adopted in the IP Closed Captioning Order to the same statutory
provision. Accordingly, we adopt the proposed interpretation of the meaning of “technically feasible.”
Given our understanding that most covered apparatus already make secondary audio streams available
today, we expect that covered apparatus will only rarely be able to demonstrate that it would be physically
or technically impossible to change the design of the apparatus to incorporate the required capabilities.
Consistent with the IP Closed Captioning Order, we permit parties to raise technical infeasibility as a
defense when faced with a complaint alleging a violation of the apparatus requirements adopted herein, or

272 See 47 U.S.C. § 303(u)(1).
273 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14746-47, ¶¶ 32-33; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 842-43, ¶ 96.
274 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14746, ¶ 32; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 842, ¶ 96 (“reject[ing] the
argument that Section 203 applies only to devices that include screens, as neither the statute nor the legislative
history compels such a narrow construction”) (footnote omitted).
275 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14746, ¶ 32; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 842-43, ¶ 96.
276 47 U.S.C. § 303(u).
277 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14746-47, ¶¶ 32-33.
278 See id. at 14746, ¶ 32; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 844, ¶ 98.
279 IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 843-45, ¶¶ 97-98.
280 Id. at 843, ¶ 97.
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to file a request for a ruling under Section 1.41 of the Commission’s rules as to technical infeasibility
before manufacturing or importing the product.281
67.
Achievability. Section 203 provides that apparatus “that use a picture screen that is less
than 13 inches in size” must meet the requirements of that section only if “achievable,” as that word is
defined in Section 716 of the Communications Act.282 Section 203 also provides that “apparatus designed
to record video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound” are only required to comply with
the emergency information and video description requirements “if achievable (as defined in section
716).”283 Section 716 of the Communications 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.”284
68.
In the NPRM, we proposed a flexible approach to achievability, consistent with that
adopted in the IP Closed Captioning Order and in the ACS Order, pursuant to 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.285
We also proposed to model the scope of the achievability exception on the IP Closed Captioning
Order
.286 The only commenter that provides a substantive discussion of achievability urges the
Commission to provide manufacturers maximum flexibility in meeting the requirements of the CVAA,
and to consider only the four statutory factors in making a determination of achievability.287 As in the IP
Closed Captioning Order
and the ACS Order, we find that it is appropriate to weigh each of the four
statutory factors equally, and that achievability should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.288 When
faced with a complaint for a violation of the requirements adopted herein pursuant to Section 203 of the

281 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14747, ¶ 33 and n. 120; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 845, ¶ 98. See
also
47 C.F.R. § 1.41 (permitting parties to file informal requests for Commission action, based on a clear and
concise showing of the facts relied on and relief sought, among other requirements).
282 47 U.S.C. § 303(u)(2)(A) (stating that “apparatus described in [Section 303(u)(1)] that use a picture screen that is
less than 13 inches in size [must] meet the requirements of [these regulations] only if the requirements of such
subparagraphs are achievable (as defined in section 716)”).
283 Id. § 303(z)(1) (requiring that “if achievable (as defined in section 716), apparatus designed to record video
programming transmitted simultaneously with sound, . . . enable the rendering or the pass through of . . . video
description signals, and emergency information . . . .”). As in the IP Closed Captioning Order, here “we expect
identifying apparatus designed to record to be straightforward,” and “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. IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 854, ¶ 114.
284 47 U.S.C. § 617(g).
285 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14748, ¶ 36.
286 Id.
287 TIA Comments at 5.
288 IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 848, ¶ 105; ACS Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14608, ¶¶ 122-23.
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CVAA, a manufacturer may raise as a defense that a particular apparatus does not comply with the rules
because compliance was not achievable under the statutory factors. Alternatively, a manufacturer may
seek a determination from the Commission that compliance with all of our rules is not achievable before
manufacturing or importing the apparatus.289 In evaluating evidence offered to prove that compliance is
not achievable, we will be informed by the analysis in the ACS Order, in which the Commission provided
a detailed explanation of each of the four statutory factors.290 We remind parties that the achievability
limitation is applicable only with regard to apparatus using screens less than 13 inches in size and to
recording devices.
69.
Purpose-Based Waivers. As we proposed in the NPRM, we will address on a case-by-
case basis any requests for waivers of the requirements adopted herein for apparatus designed to receive
or play back video programming.291 Section 203 of the CVAA permits the Commission to waive the
Section 203 requirements for any apparatus or class of apparatus that is “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.”292 The
CVAA does not define “primarily designed,” nor does it define “essential utility” except to state that it
may be derived from more than one purpose.293 According to the legislative history of the CVAA, a
waiver pursuant to the “primarily designed” provision 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.”294 We received little comment on purpose-based
waivers. We will address any requests for waiver of the apparatus requirements adopted herein on a case-
by-case basis, and waivers will be available prospectively for manufacturers seeking certainty prior to the
sale of a device.295 We expect that over time, Commission precedent in this area will prove instructive to
both manufacturers and consumers. As in the ACS Order,296 our evaluation of requests for a purpose-
based waiver also will involve consideration of the Commission’s general waiver standard, which
requires good cause and a showing that particular facts make compliance inconsistent with the public
interest.297 We find that this approach is particularly appropriate here, where waiver requests may impact
accessibility and in particular accessibility of emergency information. Although we do not intend to
prejudge any waiver requests that we might receive, we will consider the strong public interest in

289 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14747-49, ¶¶ 35-36; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 848-49, ¶ 105. See
also
47 C.F.R. § 1.41 (permitting parties to file informal requests for Commission action, based on a clear and
concise showing of the facts relied on and relief sought, among other requirements).
290 See ACS Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14607-19, ¶¶ 119-48. See also IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 849,
¶ 105.
291 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14748-49, ¶¶ 35-36; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 849, ¶ 106.
292 47 U.S.C. § 303(u)(2)(C).
293 See id.
294 House Committee Report at 30; Senate Committee Report at 14. See also IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC
Rcd at 849, ¶ 106.
295 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.41. See also TIA Comments at 3, 9-10 (explaining that the availability of prospective
categorical waivers would provide certainty and encourage innovation).
296 ACS Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14637, ¶ 188.
297 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14749, n. 133 (citing 47 C.F.R. § 1.3). See also AFB Comments at 2.
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accessible emergency information when evaluating a manufacturer’s request for waiver of compliance
with the requirements adopted in this proceeding.298
3.

Application of the Apparatus Requirements to Certain Categories of
Apparatus

70.
Below we explain the application of the apparatus requirements adopted herein to certain
categories of apparatus. Application of the requirements to each category of apparatus is adopted as
proposed in the NPRM, and each is consistent with the approach taken in the IP Closed Captioning
Order
.
71.
Removable media players. We adopt our proposal in the NPRM not to exclude
removable media play back apparatus, such as DVD and Blu-ray players, from the scope of the new
requirements.299 Consumer Groups support the coverage of removable media play back apparatus, which
they maintain would be consistent with the CVAA and the IP Closed Captioning Order.300 Based on the
record, we believe that imposing emergency information and video description requirements on
removable media players will require only minimal, if any, action on the part of manufacturers, because
most removable media players, such as DVD and Blu-ray players, already support the secondary audio
stream that the rules adopted herein require them to support.301 Additionally, the apparatus rules adopted
herein focus on the availability of the secondary audio stream, and the apparatus itself is agnostic as to the
content of that stream. That is, an apparatus will carry the stream regardless of whether that stream
contains video description, emergency information, or something else. CEA argues that we should
interpret the CVAA not to apply to removable media players the apparatus rules adopted herein.302
Specifically, CEA asserts that the CVAA applies to apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record
video programming “transmitted simultaneously with sound,” and that the term “transmitted” describes
“how a signal is conveyed or sent over a distance via wire or radio between two different devices or
parties,” which would exclude from coverage removable media players.303 We disagree with CEA’s
interpretation of the term “transmitted.” Instead we reaffirm our interpretation in the IP Closed
Captioning Order
that the term “apparatus” covers devices that receive, play back, or record video

298 See AFB Comments at 2-3. We note that one consumer commenter objects to any waivers based on primary
purpose or essential utility. Reply Comments of Faith Young at 1. We reject this argument because these waivers
are statutorily-based.
299 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14747, ¶ 34 and n. 121; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 845-46, ¶ 99.
300 Consumer Groups Reply at 14-15; Consumer Groups Feb. 15 Ex Parte Letter at 3; Consumer Groups Feb. 27 Ex
Parte
Letter at 4; Consumer Groups Mar. 4 Ex Parte Letter at 4; Consumer Groups Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter at 4;
Consumer Groups Mar. 11 Ex Parte Letter at 4.
301 See CEA Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter at 2 (“[M]ost DVD players support multiple audio streams. A user with visual
impairment has at least two options on every DVD player for discs based on the DVD Forum A/V formats—cycling
through the available audio tracks, or going to the DVD’s setup menu provided by the DVD author and selecting the
audio track for those with visual impairments on that menu.”); Letter from Julie M. Kearney, Vice President,
Regulatory Affairs, CEA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 2 (Mar. 15, 2013) (“CEA Mar. 15 Ex Parte
Letter”); Letter from Julie M. Kearney, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, CEA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, at 2 (Mar. 21, 2013).
302 CEA argues similarly in its petition for reconsideration of the IP Closed Captioning Order that the Commission
should not apply the closed captioning apparatus requirements to removable media players. CEA Recon. Petition at
8-18 (arguing that the Commission should not treat “removable media players” as apparatus covered by the closed
captioning rules because doing so would exceed the scope of the CVAA). The CEA Recon. Petition is pending
Commission action.
303 CEA Comments at 9 (emphasis in original). See also Letter from Julie M. Kearney, Vice President, Regulatory
Affairs, CEA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 5-6 (Feb. 26, 2013).
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programming “transmitted simultaneously with sound,” where “transmitted” describes how the video
programming is conveyed from the device (e.g., DVD player) to the end user (simultaneously with
sound).304 We further note that, although the CVAA and the Commission’s rules do not require
removable media itself to contain emergency information and video description,305 the fact that an
increasing number of DVDs contain video description further demonstrates the merit in requiring
removable media players to facilitate the secondary audio stream on which the video description is
provided.306
72.
Professional and commercial equipment. We adopt our proposal to exclude commercial
video equipment, including professional movie theater projectors and similar types of professional
equipment, from the Section 203 rules adopted herein.307 Notably, no commenter objects to this proposal.
Congress intended the Commission’s regulations to cover apparatus that are used by consumers.308
Because a typical consumer would not view video programming via professional or commercial
equipment, such equipment is beyond the scope of Section 203’s accessibility requirements discussed
herein. We note, however, that other federal laws may impose accessibility obligations to ensure that

304 IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 845-46, ¶ 99. But see CEA Comments at 8-9. As the Commission
explained in the IP Closed Captioning Order, “The phrase ‘or play back’ in Section 203 makes clear that Congress
no longer intended to only cover devices that receive programming. Section 203 expands the prior statutory
mandate to include not only apparatus that ‘receive’ programming, but also apparatus designed to ‘play back’
programming, whether or not such apparatus is also capable of receiving the programming . . . . We think the better
interpretation of the word ‘transmitted’ in this context is that Congress’s substitution of the words ‘television
pictures broadcast…’ with the corresponding words ‘video programming transmitted…,’ while retaining the phrase
‘simultaneously with sound,’ was intended to expand the scope of the statute beyond devices that receive broadcast
television without narrowing the statute’s prior coverage.” IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 845, ¶ 99.
305 When multimedia, including video programming, is used for the provision of services covered by other disability
law, such as educational services, the covered entity must ensure that those services are accessible. See generally 42
U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189 (Title III of the ADA). See also http://www.dcmp.org (under a grant from the U.S.
Department of Education, the Described and Captioned Media Program describes and captions multimedia for use
by K-12 students).
306 See, e.g., Media Access Group at WGBH, http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/pages/mag/dvsondvd.html (last visited
Feb. 8, 2013). But see CEA Comments at 8. We note that the NPRM sought comment on whether we should
require only video description, and not emergency information, to be accessible via removable media players.
NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14747, ¶ 34. We find that it is unnecessary for us to distinguish between video description
and emergency information requirements with respect to the secondary audio capabilities of apparatus, including
removable media players, because it makes no difference to the apparatus capabilities whether the stream contains
emergency information or video description. Further, not all emergency information needs to be viewed
immediately to be of any use, for example, emergency information about a severe storm may include information
about shelter locations that may remain relevant for a number of days. See also supra Section IV.A.2 (discussing
application of the apparatus requirements to recording devices). But see CEA Comments at 8, 9 n. 28 (arguing that
emergency information will not be relevant when consumers play back video programming on removable media
players); TIA Comments at 7 (noting potential harm from outdated emergency information). We find that the
consumer will know that he or she is watching programming on a removable media player after its initial airing, and
should be able to make a determination as to whether any steps are needed in response to recorded emergency
information, thus mitigating any harm resulting from the provision of emergency information via removable media
players.
307 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14747, ¶ 34; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 846-47, ¶ 101.
308 See House Committee Report at 30 (explaining that Section 203(a) is meant 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”) (emphasis added); Senate Committee Report at
14 (same).
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professional or commercial equipment is accessible to employees with disabilities309 or enables the
delivery of accessible services.310
73.
Display-only monitors. Section 203 of the CVAA provides that “any apparatus or class
of apparatus that are display-only video monitors with no playback capability are exempt from the
requirements [of Section 303(u)(1)].”311 We find that the exemption for display-only video monitors is
self-explanatory and thus we incorporate the language of the statutory provision directly into our rules.
We also provide that a manufacturer may make a request for a Commission determination as to whether
its apparatus qualifies for this exemption.312 We note that no commenters address this issue. A
manufacturer may make a request for a Commission determination as to whether its device qualifies for
the display-only monitor exemption pursuant to Section 1.41 of the Commission’s rules.313
74.
Mobile DTV. We find that the apparatus requirements adopted herein apply to mobile
DTV apparatus because such apparatus make available video programming through mobile DTV
services, which are provided by television broadcast stations subject to Sections 79.2 and 79.3 of our
rules.314 NAB does not dispute that the apparatus requirements apply to mobile DTV apparatus; however,
it argues that the Commission “should not dictate transmission standards in the rapidly evolving mobile
environment,” but instead “should afford flexibility to ensure that program originators and equipment
manufacturers are able to decode and integrate additional audio information.”315 We are concerned that
allowing mobile DTV broadcasters to provide aural emergency information by means other than the
secondary audio stream would not be effective because manufacturers may not include functionality for
an alternate approach in their apparatus, and thus emergency information may be inaccessible to
consumers. Additionally, we note that that the few mobile DTV devices currently on the market already
support multiple audio streams. This demonstrates that support of the secondary audio stream is
technically possible and may be the most appropriate means of providing emergency information and
video description on mobile DTV apparatus.316 While we apply the same video description and
emergency information requirements to mobile DTV apparatus as to other covered apparatus, to the
extent that broadcasters find it preferable to use something besides a secondary audio stream to provide
emergency information via mobile DTV, the Commission may consider waiver requests if supported by
both broadcasters and manufacturers.317

309 Title I of the ADA requires private and state and local government employers with more than 15 employees to
provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees with disabilities. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111-12117.
A similar obligation applies to the federal government with respect to all federal employees with disabilities under
Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act. 29 U.S.C. § 791.
310 See, for example, Part A of Title II and Title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, 12181-12189.
311 47 U.S.C. § 303(u)(2)(B).
312 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14748-49, ¶ 36; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 850, ¶ 108.
313 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.41 (informal requests for Commission action).
314 Mobile DTV apparatus receive programming from broadcasters, generally a copy of the broadcaster’s primary
video stream, over a portion of the broadcaster’s primary video spectrum which has been reallocated for this
purpose. See Mobile Content Venture at www.dyle.tv/mcv/overview.
315 See Letter from Ann West Bobeck, Senior VP and Deputy General Counsel, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, NAB,
to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1 (Feb. 19, 2013). See also NAB Feb. 8 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
316 See Letter from Julie M. Kearney, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, CEA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, at 2 (Feb. 13, 2013).
317 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.3.
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C.

Alternate Means of Compliance

75.
We implement a similar approach to alternate means of compliance to the approach we
adopted in the IP Closed Captioning Order.318 Pursuant to Section 203 of the CVAA, an entity may meet
the emergency information and video description requirements “through alternate means than those”
adopted herein.319 In the NPRM, we sought comment on our proposal to implement the same approach to
alternate means of compliance that we adopted in the IP Closed Captioning Order, and we asked whether
we should instead impose certain standards that any permissible alternate means must meet, given the
nature of emergency information.320 We received very little comment on our implementation of this
provision.321 As proposed in the NPRM, we adopt a similar approach to the one adopted in the IP Closed
Captioning Order
, i.e., rather than specifying what may constitute a permissible alternate means, we will
address specific requests from parties subject to the new rules on a case-by-case basis. Unlike the
approach taken in the IP Closed Captioning Order, however, we will only permit an entity that seeks to
use an “alternate means” to comply with the apparatus requirements adopted herein to request a
Commission determination that the proposed alternate means satisfies the statutory requirements through
a request pursuant to Section 1.41 of our rules.322 We will not permit an entity to claim in defense to a
complaint or enforcement action that the Commission should determine that the party’s actions were a
permissible alternate means of compliance.323 We find that this is the best approach, given the uniquely
heightened public interest in emergency information, and the importance of ensuring that consumers
know how they can use their apparatus to obtain emergency information provided via the secondary audio
stream. Moreover, we believe few manufacturers should need to avail themselves of alternate means of
compliance because most covered apparatus already make secondary audio streams available today. We
also believe that the burden, if any, on such manufacturers is outweighed by the uniquely heightened
public interest in emergency information, and that it will be beneficial to manufacturers to know in
advance, before manufacturing a product, that their product will comply with Commission requirements.

D.

Compliance Deadlines

76.
We conclude that two years from the date of Federal Register publication is the
appropriate deadline by which device manufacturers must comply with the emergency information and
video description requirements of Section 203 of the CVAA, as implemented herein. The CVAA does
not specify the time frame by which the Section 203 requirements must become effective,324 nor did the
VPAAC recommend a compliance deadline. The NPRM sought comment on an appropriate deadline and

318 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd 14749, ¶ 37; IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 858-59, ¶ 121.
319 “An entity may meet the requirements of sections 303(u), 303(z), and 330(b) of the Communications Act of 1934
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.” Pub. L. No. 111-260, § 203(e).
320 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14749, ¶ 37.
321 See NAB Comments at 15 (“While certain potential benefits may be unattainable in the present, the Commission
should allow television broadcasters, MVPD providers and device manufacturers the flexibility to explore using
emerging technologies or other methods as an alternate means of making emergency information accessible to the
widest possible audiences.”); Wireless RERC Comments at 14 (“The Wireless RERC encourages industry to
examine methods that may be more seamless, expedient and accessible. However, before employing the use of an
‘alternate means’ we recommend a requirement that the Commission approve its use to assure the technology is
compliant with disability access rules.”).
322 47 C.F.R. § 1.41.
323 See Wireless RERC Comments at 14 (recommending that the Commission approve any alternate means before a
manufacturer employs the use of such means “to assure the technology is compliant with disability access rules”).
324 See Pub. L. No. 111-260, § 203(d).
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we received comments from ACB and some industry commenters on this issue. While ACB supports a
compliance deadline of no more than 18 months,325 there is widespread industry support for a deadline of
two years from the date of Federal Register publication.326 The secondary audio stream is currently used
for video description, and pursuant to this Report and Order it will be used for aural emergency
information as well. Because televisions and navigation devices have long included the ability to access
secondary audio streams, we do not expect any further action will need to be taken by manufacturers of
most apparatus subject to the rules to come into compliance. We find that a two-year compliance
deadline is nevertheless appropriate, as it will coincide with the Section 202 emergency information
deadline discussed above, and it is logical to require the use of the secondary audio stream to provide
emergency information by the same date that the apparatus requirements pertaining to the secondary
audio stream become effective.327 A two-year compliance deadline is also consistent with the precedent
from the Commission’s implementation of other recent apparatus requirements, which were based upon
the time generally needed to implement apparatus modifications.328
77.
We clarify that the compliance deadline refers only to the date of manufacture. In its
petition for reconsideration of the IP Closed Captioning Order, CEA requests that the deadline for
compliance with the IP closed captioning rules should be interpreted to refer only to the date of
manufacture.329 In the present proceeding, CEA similarly argues that the Commission should add
explanatory notes to Sections 79.105(a) and 79.106(a) stating that the new obligations in those provisions
“place no restriction on the importing, shipping or sale of apparatus that were manufactured before” the
deadline for compliance with the apparatus requirements for emergency information and video
description.330 We find that this approach would be consistent with the Commission’s past practices
regarding similar equipment deadlines.331 The Consumer Groups assert that the proposal to consider only
the date of manufacture risks consumer confusion because consumers would not know whether the
products they purchase are accessible.332 We find that a compliance deadline based on the date of
importation or the date of sale would be inappropriate, given that the manufacturer often does not control
the date of importation or sale. Further, because of the brief intervals between the date of manufacture
and the date of importation, a labeling requirement to address such situations would impose compliance

325 ACB Comments at 2-3.
326 CEA Comments at 3, 13; ESA Comments at 7; TIA Comments at 2, 8-9; CEA Reply at 7-8; Verizon Reply at 3,
7; CEA Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter at 2; CEA Feb. 1 Ex Parte Letters at 2; CEA Feb. 8 Ex Parte Letters at 2; CEA Mar.
15 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
327 See supra Section III.D.
328 See, e.g., IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 859, ¶ 122. See also CEA Comments at 13; ESA
Comments at 7; CEA Reply at 8; Verizon Reply at 7-8.
329 See CEA Recon. Petition at 19-20.
330 CEA Comments at 12; CEA Jan. 24 Ex Parte Letter at 2; CEA Feb. 1 Ex Parte Letters at 2; CEA Feb. 8 Ex Parte
Letters at 2.
331 See, e.g., Notes to 47 C.F.R. §§ 15.120(a), 79.101(a)(1), 79.102(a)(1), (2). See also CEA Comments at 12-13.
332 Consumer Groups Reply at 18 (proposing that the Commission clarify that the compliance deadline does not only
refer to the date of manufacture, or require manufacturers to conspicuously label products with information
regarding their accessibility features). See also Consumer Groups Feb. 15 Ex Parte Letter at 3 (proposing that the
Commission set a compliance deadline based on the date of sale, or require labeling for noncompliant products);
Consumer Groups Feb. 27 Ex Parte Letter at 4 (same); Consumer Groups Mar. 4 Ex Parte Letter at 4 (same);
Consumer Groups Mar. 7 Ex Parte Letter at 4 (same); Consumer Groups Mar. 11 Ex Parte Letter at 4 (same).
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costs with little practical benefit.333 For these reasons, we add explanatory notes to Sections 79.105(a)
and 79.106(a) of our rules to clarify that those rules place no restrictions on the importing, shipping, or
sale of apparatus that were manufactured before the compliance deadline.

E.

Complaint Procedures

78.
We adopt the procedures proposed in the NPRM for the filing of complaints alleging
violations of the Commission’s rules requiring apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record video
programming to make available emergency information and video description services.334 As proposed in
the NPRM and consistent with the apparatus complaint procedures adopted in the IP Closed Captioning
Order
,335 complaints alleging a violation of the apparatus rules related to emergency information and
video description should include: (a) the name, postal address, and other contact information, such as
telephone number or email address, of the complainant; (b) the name and contact information, such as
postal address, of the apparatus manufacturer or provider;336 (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. A
complaint alleging a violation of the Section 203 apparatus requirements adopted herein may be
transmitted to the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau337 by any reasonable means, such as the
Commission’s online informal complaint filing system,338 letter in writing or Braille, facsimile
transmission, telephone (voice/TRS/TTY), e-mail,339 or some other method that would best accommodate
the complainant’s disability. Given that the population intended to benefit from the rules adopted herein

333 In the IP closed captioning proceeding, CEA explains that “there typically is only a short lag time between
manufacture and importation of any given apparatus. Depending on the equipment type and the place of
manufacture, the length of this lag time varies from two to three days for truck shipments to the United States to
about two to three weeks for shipments by sea.” See Letters from Julie M. Kearney, Vice President, Regulatory
Affairs, CEA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, MB Docket No. 11-154, at 3 (July 12, 2012).
334 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14745, ¶ 29. The record contains little discussion of the proposed apparatus complaint
procedures, and we see no reason to deviate from the procedures proposed in the NPRM. We reject Verizon’s
proposal that, if the Commission believes an informal complaint process is necessary, it should require complainants
to confirm that they first attempted to resolve the matter directly with the manufacturer or provider. Verizon Reply
at 8. We did not adopt such a requirement in the IP Closed Captioning Order, also implementing Section 203 of the
CVAA, and we see no need to do so here, where consumers may have difficulty identifying the manufacturer or
provider.
335 IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 859-60, ¶ 123.
336 We do not expect consumers to locate the names and addresses of manufacturers in all instances. For example, if
a consumer uses a set-top box provided by its MVPD, then the consumer may indicate the MVPD’s name and
contact information. See also Pierce Comments at 6.
337 The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau reserves the discretion to refer complaints that reveal a pattern
of noncompliance to the Commission’s Enforcement Bureau.
338 Kelly Pierce asserts that the word limit for electronically filed consumer complaints is “completely inadequate.”
Pierce Comments at 6. Although this issue is outside the scope of this proceeding, we take note of it and will
consider its merits in future updates to the electronic consumer complaint system.
339 See id. (requesting that the Commission permit e-mail filing so that blind individuals can easily and
independently file complaints).
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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.
79.
The Commission will forward 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. The Commission may request additional information from any relevant parties when, in the
estimation of Commission staff, such information is needed to investigate the complaint or to adjudicate
potential violations of Commission rules. After the apparatus rules adopted in this Report and Order
become effective, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau will release a consumer advisory with
instructions on how to file complaints in various formats, including via the Commission’s website.340

V.

FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

80.
Provision of linear programming to mobile and other devices. We seek comment on
whether, when an MVPD, as defined in the Commission’s rules,341 permits its subscribers to access linear
video programming that contains emergency information via tablets, laptops, personal computers,
smartphones, or similar devices, it is acting as a “video programming distributor”342 that is providing
“video programming”343 and is covered by the emergency information rules adopted herein.344 We also
seek comment on whether, under this approach, an MVPD should be required to ensure that any
application or plug-in345 that it provides to the consumer to access this programming is capable of making
the emergency information audible on a secondary audio stream. For example, Cablevision currently
permits consumers to access its entire package of video programming, including broadcast channels that
contain emergency information, via tablets, laptops, smartphones, and similar devices.346 Should

340 As it did in the IP Closed Captioning Order, the Commission further directs the Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau to revise the existing complaint form for disability access complaints (Form 2000C) in accordance
with this Report and Order, to facilitate the filing of complaints alleging violations of the apparatus requirements
adopted herein. See IP Closed Captioning Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 860, n. 503. Should the apparatus rules adopted in
this Report and Order become effective before the revised Form 2000C is available to consumers, apparatus
complaints may be filed in the interim by any reasonable means, as explained above.
341 The Commission’s rules define an MVPD as “an entity engaged in the business of making available for purchase,
by subscribers or customers, multiple channels of video programming.” See 47 C.F.R. § 76.1000(e).
342 See id. § 79.1(a)(2) (defining “video programming distributor” to include any television broadcast station,
MVPD, 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”).
343 See id. § 79.1(a)(1) (defining “video programming” to mean “[p]rogramming provided by, or generally
considered comparable to programming provided by, a television broadcast station that is distributed and exhibited
for residential use”).
344 We do not believe it is necessary to reach the question of whether this service is provided by an MVPD or an
“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,” as both are covered entities. Id. § 79.1(a)(2). We note
that our inquiry is based on the specific definitions contained in Section 79.1 of the Commission’s rules and thus is
limited to application of the emergency information requirements in the CVAA, 47 U.S.C. § 613(g), and should not
be read to imply a classification of these services for any other purpose. We seek comment on this issue.
345 A “plug-in” is defined as “[a] program of data that enhances, or adds to, the operation of a (usually larger) parent
program.” See H. Newton, Newton’s Telecom Dictionary 642 (20th ed. 2004).
346 Cablevision delivers programming both to traditional set-top boxes and to IP devices using “its secure and
proprietary Advanced Digital Cable television network to deliver cable programming to customers for viewing on
the Optimum App for iPad [and other devices] and content is not delivered over the Internet. . . . Customers do not
need to have Internet access to use the Optimum App for iPad.” See Cablevision’s New Optimum App Delivers the
Full Cable Television Experience to an iPad in the Home, Apr. 2, 2011, available at
(continued….)
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Cablevision be required to ensure that any emergency information contained in the programming it makes
available on tablets and other devices is audible by means of a secondary stream? We recognize that
some MVPDs currently enable subscribers to access linear video programming inside the home as well as
outside the home (e.g., TV Everywhere offerings). Should our rules apply to both situations –
irrespective of where the subscriber may physically be when accessing the programming? Does it matter
whether the emergency content is being delivered over the MVPD’s IP network or over the Internet?
81.
At the same time, we seek comment on whether instead of placing obligations on
MVPDs to make the emergency information accessible on the types of devices described above, it should
be the obligation of the apparatus manufacturer, under Section 203, to ensure that the devices are capable
of receiving the secondary audio stream.347 Or, do both the MVPD and the manufacturer have a role in
facilitating the provision of the secondary audio stream on these types of devices?
82.
What technological hurdles, if any, prevent or impede the delivery of the secondary audio
service on mobile devices and personal computers? How much time is necessary for MVPDs and/or
manufacturers to come into compliance and ensure that consumers can access the secondary audio stream
on a mobile device or personal computer?
83.
Provision of video description services on mobile or other devices. We note that the
Commission’s existing video description rules currently apply to “MVPD systems.”348 Specifically,
MVPD systems that serve 50,000 or more subscribers must provide 50 hours of video description per
calendar quarter during prime time or children’s programming on each of the top five national
nonbroadcast networks that they carry on those systems.349 Further, MVPD systems of any size must pass
through video description provided by a broadcast station or nonbroadcast network, if the channel on
which the MVPD distributes the programming has the technical capability necessary to pass through the
video description and if that technology is not being used for another purpose related to the
programming.350 In discussions with industry in the context of the current proceeding, it has come to our
attention that the pass-through obligations of an MVPD system may not be clear to the extent that the
MVPD allows subscribers to access “video programming”351 via tablets, laptops, personal computers,
smartphones, or similar devices. To provide additional clarity on this issue, we seek comment on whether
an MVPD system must comply with the video description rules when it permits its subscribers to access
linear video programming via tablets, laptops, personal computers, smartphones, or similar devices.
Because video description is provided using secondary audio streams, we seek comment on whether an
(Continued from previous page)
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cablevisions-new-optimum-app-delivers-the-full-cable-television-
experience-to-an-ipad-in-the-home-119117379.html.
347 See CEA Mar. 15 Ex Parte Letter at 2 (“To the extent that devices interact with video delivered via [IP], they are
not covered by the new apparatus rules to be adopted pursuant to the [NPRM], and manufacturers of these devices
should not be responsible for video programming applications developed by third parties.”) (footnote omitted).
348 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.3(b)(4)-(5).
349 Id. § 79.3(b)(4). See also 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11849-50, ¶ 4. The top five national
nonbroadcast networks must reach 50 percent or more of MVPD households and have at least 50 hours per quarter
of prime time programming that is not live or near-live or otherwise exempt under the video description rules. 47
C.F.R. § 79.3(b)(4). See also 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11854-55, ¶¶ 12-15. For purposes of
the rule, the top five nonbroadcast networks are USA, the Disney Channel, TNT, Nickelodeon, and TBS. 2011
Video Description Order
, 26 FCC Rcd at 11854, ¶ 12.
350 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.3(b)(5)(i)-(ii). See also 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11850, ¶ 4.
351 See 47 C.F.R. § 79.3(a)(4) (defining “video programming” as “[p]rogramming provided by, or generally
considered comparable to programming provided by, a television broadcast station, but not including consumer-
generated media”).
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MVPD must ensure that any application or plug-in that it provides to the consumer to access linear video
programming is capable of providing or passing through video description on a secondary audio stream,
regardless of the type of device (e.g., tablets, laptops, personal computers, smartphones) the consumer
uses to access such programming. How, if at all, should we apply in this context the technical capability
exception to the video description requirements, pursuant to which the pass-through requirement does not
apply when an MVPD lacks the technical capability necessary to pass through video description?352 What
obligations, if any, fall on the manufacturers to ensure that these devices are capable of receiving the
secondary audio stream, pursuant to Section 203 of the CVAA?353
84.
We also seek comment on whether additional time is needed for MVPDs and/or
manufacturers to comply with the video description rules for linear video programming services provided
via tablets, laptops, personal computers, smartphones, or similar devices. We note, for example, that the
Commission in the 2011 Video Description Order gave mobile DTV additional time for compliance.354
Should the same timeframe apply for both emergency information and video description purposes? We
note that, as a technical matter, once the secondary audio stream is received by a device, that stream can
be made available regardless of whether it is used for emergency information or video description.
85.
Tagging of the secondary audio stream. As explained above, we are concerned that some
consumers may be unable to find and activate an audio stream tagged as “visually impaired” (“VI”),
which is the label dictated by the digital television standard, and that the audio stream used for video
description must be labeled as “complete main” (“CM”) instead.355 Further, it has been reported that
some television receivers do not properly handle two audio tracks identified as English, and thus to ensure
compatibility, broadcasters often tag the video description stream as a foreign language, even though the
content of the stream is video description. Although the NPRM sought comment on this issue,356 the
record is not yet sufficiently detailed for us to address these very technical matters. We recognize that
broadcasters and MVPDs have not yet developed a solution pursuant to which tagging the video
description stream as VI, to help consumers locate the stream, would be compatible with accessing the
secondary audio stream on all equipment, including older equipment. In the absence of an industry
solution to this problem, should the Commission mandate that the video description stream include a
particular tag, and that all apparatus subject to the rules adopted herein enable consumers to access a
video description stream with that tag? If so, is the “visually impaired” (“VI”) tag the one that the
Commission should mandate? What would broadcasters and manufacturers need to do to comply with
such a requirement? What deadline should the Commission impose by which broadcasters and
manufacturers must comply with any such requirement? How can the Commission ensure that such a
requirement does not affect consumers who have not upgraded their equipment? How can we minimize
any confusion or cost to such consumers, and specifically, how can we mitigate the need for consumers to
purchase new equipment to take advantage of the tagging requirements discussed herein? What other
steps should the Commission take to ensure that the content of the secondary audio stream is properly
tagged, for example so that a video description stream is tagged as video description and not as foreign

352 See 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11860, ¶ 23.
353 See 47 U.S.C. §§ 303(u)(1), (z)(1) (imposing video description requirements on apparatus designed to receive,
play back, or record video programming).
354 See 2011 Video Description Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 11875, ¶ 57 (“Given the nascency of this service, and the fact
that requiring pass-through of video description with Mobile DTV broadcasts would have little benefit to consumers
at this time, we agree with NAB that it is appropriate to delay the effectiveness of these rules.”).
355 See supra Section IV.A.5. In that section we explain that in this context, a “tag” refers to the metadata
accompanying an audio stream that signals to the receiving device what type of audio stream it is.
356 NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14742-43, ¶ 24.
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language audio? We also invite comment on any other issues relevant to this portion of the Further
Notice
.
86.
Customer support services. As explained above, although we request, but do not at this
time require, that entities subject to the requirements adopted herein pursuant to Sections 202 and 203 of
the CVAA provide dedicated customer support services to assist consumers who are blind or visually
impaired with accessing the secondary audio stream, we seek further comment on this issue.357 Should
the Commission require covered entities to provide customer support services that are specifically
designed to assist consumers who are blind or visually impaired to navigate between the main and
secondary audio streams? Should customer support services consist of a dedicated telephone number, an
accessible chat feature on the covered entity’s website, or a different means by which regulated entities
should provide customer support? How should such a requirement apply to manufacturers, which may
not maintain an ongoing direct-to-consumer relationship? Should the Commission adopt contact
information requirements comparable to those applicable to the television closed captioning rules, to
require covered entities to make available contact information for the receipt and handling of immediate
emergency information or video description complaints or concerns during a program’s progress, and for
the receipt and handling of written emergency information or video description complaints that do not
raise immediate issues?358 What contact information should the Commission require of entities subject to
the requirements adopted herein, and how should that information be made available to consumers?359
Instead of following the model of the television closed captioning rules, should we adopt contact
information requirements comparable to those applicable to the IP closed captioning rules?360 Are there
other ways by which entities subject to the requirements adopted herein can best provide assistance to
consumers who are blind or visually impaired with accessing the secondary audio stream? Finally, we
invite comment on any additional issues relevant to this portion of the Further Notice.

VI.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

A.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

87.
Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of
1980, as amended (“RFA”),361 the Commission has prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
(“FRFA”) relating to this Report and Order in MB Docket No. 12-107. The FRFA is set forth in
Appendix C.
88.
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. As required by the RFA, the Commission has
prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (“IRFA”) relating to the Further Notice. The IRFA is
attached to this Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking as Appendix D.

357 See supra Sections III.B.1, IV.A.3.
358 See 47 C.F.R. § 79.1(i)(1)-(2).
359 See id. § 79.1(i)(3) (requiring television video programming distributors to file the contact information described
in that section with the Commission, and to notify the Commission each time there is a change in any of the required
information).
360 See id. § 79.4(c)(2)(iii).
361 See 5 U.S.C. § 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. § 601 et seq., has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (“SBREFA”), Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996). The SBREFA
was enacted as Title II of the Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996 (“CWAAA”).
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B.

Paperwork Reduction Act

89. The Report and Order contains new or modified information collection requirements
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (“PRA”), Public Law 104-13.362 The requirements will
be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under Section 3507(d) of the
PRA. OMB, the general public, and other Federal agencies will be invited to comment on the information
collection requirements contained in this proceeding. The Commission will publish a separate document
in the Federal Register at a later date seeking these comments. In addition, we note that 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 the Commission might further reduce the information collection burden for
small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.
90.
The Further Notice may result in new or revised information collection requirements. If
the Commission adopts any new or revised information collection requirement, the Commission will
publish a notice 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, see 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.”

C.

Congressional Review Act

91.
The Commission will send a copy of the Report and Order in MB Docket No. 12-107 in
a report to be sent to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional
Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(A).

D.

Ex Parte Rules

92.
Permit-But-Disclose. This proceeding shall be treated as a “permit-but-disclose”
proceeding in accordance with the Commission’s ex parte rules.363 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

362 Information collection requirements include: (1) the filing and processing of complaints alleging violations of the
Commission’s rules pertaining to accessible emergency information, pursuant to revised Section 79.2(c); (2) the
filing and processing of complaints alleging violations of the Commission’s apparatus requirements for emergency
information and video description; (3) the filing and processing of requests for waiver of the apparatus requirements
on the basis of technical feasibility, pursuant to Section 79.105(a); (4) the filing and processing of requests for
waiver of the apparatus requirements on the basis of achievability, pursuant to Section 79.105(b)(3); (5) the filing
and processing of requests for a purpose-based waiver of the apparatus requirements, pursuant to Section
79.105(b)(4); and (6) the submission and review of consumer eligibility information pertaining to the waiver granted
to DIRECTV with respect to the provision of aural emergency information during The Weather Channel’s
programming on all set-top boxes.
363 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.1200 et seq.
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consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule 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.

E.

Filing Requirements

93.
Comments and Replies. Pursuant to Sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission’s rules,
47 C.F.R. §§ 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. 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/">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 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.
 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.
94.
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, S.W., CY-A257, Washington, D.C., 20554. These
documents will also be available via ECFS. Documents will be available electronically in ASCII,
Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat.
95.
People with Disabilities. To request materials in accessible formats for people with
disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call
the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432
(TTY).

F.

Additional Information

96.
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.
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VII.

ORDERING CLAUSES

97.
Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED

that, pursuant to the Twenty-First Century
Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-260, 124 Stat. 2751, and the
authority found in Sections 4(i), 4(j), 303, 330(b), 713, and 716 of the Communications Act of 1934, as
amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), 154(j), 303, 330(b), 613, and 617, this Report and Order and Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

IS ADOPTED

, effective thirty (30) days after the date of publication in
the Federal Register, except for Sections 79.105(a), 79.105(b)(3), and 79.105(b)(4), and revised Section
79.2(c), which shall become effective upon announcement in the Federal Register of OMB approval and
an effective date of the rules.
98.

IT IS ORDERED

that, pursuant to the Twenty-First Century Communications and
Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-260, 124 Stat. 2751, and the authority found in Sections
4(i), 4(j), 303, 330(b), 713, and 716 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§
154(i), 154(j), 303, 330(b), 613, and 617, the Commission’s rules

ARE HEREBY AMENDED

as set
forth in Appendix B.
99.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that we delegate authority to the Media Bureau and the
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau to consider all requests for declaratory rulings pursuant to
Section 1.2 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.2, all waiver requests pursuant to Sections 1.3 or
79.105(b)(4) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.3, 79.105(b)(4), and all informal requests for
Commission action pursuant to Section 1.41 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.41, filed under
these rules and pursuant to Sections 202 and 203 of the CVAA as discussed herein.
100.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that the Commission’s Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center,

SHALL SEND

a copy of this Report and Order and
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
in MB Docket No. 12-107, including the Final Regulatory
Flexibility Analysis and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of
the Small Business Administration.
101.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that the Commission

SHALL SEND

a copy of this
Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in MB Docket No. 12-107 in a report to
be sent to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review
Act, see 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(A).
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
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APPENDIX A

List of Commenters

Comments filed in MB Docket No. 12-107

American Council of the Blind (ACB)
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
AT&T Services, Inc.
Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)
DIRECTV, LLC
DISH Network L.L.C.
Entertainment Software Association (ESA)
National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)
National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA)
National Public Radio, Inc. (NPR)
Pierce, Kelly
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access and Consumer Groups
(Consumer Groups)1
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies (Wireless RERC)
Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)
The Weather Channel, LLC

Reply Comments filed in MB Docket No. 12-107

AT&T Services, Inc.
CenturyLink, Inc.
Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)
CTIA-The Wireless Association (CTIA)
Groupo Communications LLC
National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access and Consumer Groups
(Consumer Groups)2
Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)
Verizon
Young, Faith

1 This comment was filed by: Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI); American
Association of the Deaf-Blind (AADB); National Association of the Deaf (NAD); and Rehabilitation Engineering
Research Center on Telecommunications Access.
2 This reply comment was filed by: Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI); American
Association of the Deaf-Blind (AADB); National Association of the Deaf (NAD); Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Consumer Advocacy Center (DHHCAN); Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA); Association of Late-
Deafened Adults (ALDA); Cerebral Palsy and Deaf Organization (CPADO); and Rehabilitation Engineering
Research Center on Telecommunications Access).
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APPENDIX B

Final Rules

The Federal Communications Commission amends Part 79 of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations
(CFR) 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 § 79.2 by revising paragraphs (b) and (c) to read as follows:
§ 79.2 Accessibility of programming providing emergency information.
* * * * *
(b) * * *
(1) Video programming distributors must make emergency information, as defined in paragraph (a) of
this section, that is provided in the audio portion of the programming accessible to persons with hearing
disabilities by using a method of closed captioning or by using a method of visual presentation, as
described in § 79.1 of this part.
(2) Video programming distributors and video programming providers must make emergency
information, as defined in paragraph (a) of this section, accessible as follows:
(i) Emergency information that is provided visually during a regularly scheduled newscast, or newscast
that interrupts regular programming, must be made accessible to individuals who are blind or visually
impaired; and
(ii) Emergency information that is provided visually during programming that is neither a regularly
scheduled newscast, nor a newscast that interrupts regular programming, must be accompanied with an
aural tone, and beginning [INSERT DATE TWO YEARS AFTER FEDERAL REGISTER
PUBLICATION] must be made accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired through the
use of a secondary audio stream to provide the emergency information aurally. Emergency information
provided aurally on the secondary audio stream must be preceded by an aural tone and must be conveyed
in full at least twice. Emergency information provided through use of text-to-speech (“TTS”)
technologies must be intelligible and must use the correct pronunciation of relevant information to allow
consumers to learn about and respond to the emergency, including, but not limited to, the names of
shelters, school districts, streets, districts, and proper names noted in the visual information. The video
programming distributor or video programming provider that creates the visual emergency information
content and adds it to the programming stream is responsible for providing an aural representation of the
information on a secondary audio stream, accompanied by an aural tone. Video programming distributors
are responsible for ensuring that the aural representation of the emergency information (including the
accompanying aural tone) gets passed through to consumers.
(3) This rule applies to emergency information primarily intended for distribution to an audience in the
geographic area in which the emergency is occurring.
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(4) Video programming distributors must ensure that emergency information does not block any closed
captioning and any closed captioning does not block any emergency information provided by means other
than closed captioning.
(5) Video programming distributors and video programming providers must ensure that aural emergency
information provided in accordance with § 79.2(b)(2)(ii) supersedes all other programming on the
secondary audio stream, including video description, foreign language translation, or duplication of the
main audio stream, with each entity responsible only for its own actions or omissions in this regard.
(c) Complaint procedures. A complaint alleging a violation of this section 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, facsimile transmission, telephone (voice/TRS/TTY), Internet e-
mail, audio-cassette recording, and Braille, or some other method that would best accommodate the
complainant’s disability. The complaint should include the name of the video programming distributor or
the video programming provider against whom the complaint is alleged, the date and time of the omission
of emergency information, and the type of emergency. The Commission will notify the video
programming distributor or the video programming provider of the complaint, and the distributor or the
provider will reply to the complaint within 30 days.
3.
Add § 79.105 to read as follows:
§ 79.105 Video description and emergency information accessibility requirements for all
apparatus.

(a) Effective [INSERT DATE TWO YEARS AFTER FEDERAL REGISTER PUBLICATION], all
apparatus that (i) is designed to receive or play back video programming transmitted simultaneously with
sound that is provided by entities subject to §§ 79.2 and 79.3 of this Part, (ii) is manufactured in the
United States or imported for use in the United States, and (iii) uses a picture screen of any size, must
have the capability to decode and make available the secondary audio stream if technically feasible,
unless otherwise provided in this section, which will facilitate the following services:
(1) The transmission and delivery of video description services as required by § 79.3 of this Part; and
(2) Emergency information (as that term is defined in § 79.2 of this Part) in a manner that is accessible to
individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
Note 1 to paragraph (a): Apparatus includes the physical device and the video player(s) capable of
displaying video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound 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 capable of displaying video programming transmitted simultaneously
with sound that manufacturers direct consumers to install after sale.
Note 2 to paragraph (a): This paragraph places no restrictions on the importing, shipping, or sale of
apparatus that were manufactured before [INSERT DATE TWO YEARS AFTER FEDERAL
REGISTER PUBLICATION].
(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.
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(3)(i) Achievable. Apparatus that use a picture screen of less than 13 inches in size must comply with the
provisions of this section only if doing so is achievable as defined in this section. 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 § 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.
(c) Interconnection. Covered apparatus shall use interconnection mechanisms that make available the
audio provided via a secondary audio stream.
4.
Add § 79.106 to read as follows:
§ 79.106 Video description and emergency information accessibility requirements for recording
devices.

(a) Effective [INSERT DATE TWO YEARS AFTER FEDERAL REGISTER PUBLICATION], all
apparatus that (i) is designed to record video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound that is
provided by entities subject to §§ 79.2 and 79.3 of this Part, and (ii) 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 § 79.105(b)(3).
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Note 1 to paragraph (a): Apparatus includes the physical device and the video player(s) capable of
displaying video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound 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 capable of displaying video programming transmitted simultaneously
with sound that manufacturers direct consumers to install after sale.
Note 2 to paragraph (a): This paragraph places no restrictions on the importing, shipping, or sale of
apparatus that were manufactured before [INSERT DATE TWO YEARS AFTER FEDERAL
REGISTER PUBLICATION].
(b) All apparatus subject to this section must enable the presentation or the pass through of the secondary
audio stream, which will facilitate the provision of video description signals and emergency information
(as that term is defined in § 79.2 of this Part) 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.
(c) All apparatus subject to this section must comply with the interconnection mechanism requirements in
§ 79.105(c).
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APPENDIX C

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for the Report and Order

1.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (“RFA”),1 an Initial
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (“IRFA”) was incorporated in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in this
proceeding.2 The Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) sought written public comment
on the proposals in the NPRM, including comment on the IRFA. The Commission received no comments
on the IRFA. This present Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (“FRFA”) conforms to the RFA.3

A.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Report and Order

2.
Pursuant to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of
2010 (“CVAA”),4 the Report and Order adopts rules requiring that emergency information5 provided in
video programming be made accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired and that certain
apparatus be capable of delivering video description and emergency information to those individuals.
Section 202 of the CVAA directs the Commission to promulgate rules requiring video programming
providers, video programming distributors, and program owners6 to convey emergency information in a
manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.7 The Report and Order implements
this mandate by requiring the use of a secondary audio stream8 to convey televised emergency
information aurally, when such information is conveyed visually during programming other than

1 See 5 U.S.C. § 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. §§ 601-612, has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (“SBREFA”), Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996). The SBREFA
was enacted as Title II of the Contract With America Advancement Act of 1996 (“CWAAA”).
2 See 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
,
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd 14728 (2012) (“NPRM”).
3 See 5 U.S.C. § 604.
4 Pub. L. No. 111-260, 124 Stat. 2751 (2010) (as codified in various sections of 47 U.S.C.). See also Amendment of
Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-265, 124 Stat. 2795
(2010) (making technical corrections to the CVAA). The foregoing are collectively referred to herein as the CVAA.
The CVAA was enacted on October 8, 2010.
5 The CVAA directed the Commission to apply here the definition of “emergency information” found in the
Commission’s rules. 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(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. Examples of the types
of emergencies covered include 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.” 47 C.F.R. § 79.2(a)(2). “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 C.F.R. § 79.2(a)(2).
6 Section 79.1 of the Commission’s rules defines the terms “video programming distributor” and “video
programming provider.” 47 C.F.R. §§ 79.1(a)(2)-(3). It does not define the term “program owner.”
7 47 U.S.C. § 613(g)(2).
8 A secondary audio stream is an audio channel, other than the main program audio channel, that is typically used
for foreign language audio and video description.
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newscasts, for example, in an on-screen crawl.9 This requirement, which has widespread industry
support, will serve the public interest by ensuring that televised emergency information is accessible to
individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Further, as directed by Section 203 of the CVAA, the
Report and Order requires certain apparatus that receive, play back, or record video programming to
make available video description10 services and accessible emergency information.11 Specifically, the
apparatus rules require that certain apparatus make available the secondary audio stream, which is
currently used to provide video description and which will be used to provide aural emergency
information. The apparatus requirements will benefit individuals who are blind or visually impaired by
ensuring that apparatus on which consumers receive, play back, or record video programming are capable
of accessing emergency information and video description services. We understand that most apparatus
subject to the rules already comply with these requirements.
3.
As discussed in Section III of the Report and Order, we adopt emergency information
requirements for video programming distributors, video programming providers, and program owners
pursuant to Section 202(a) of the CVAA. Specifically, we adopt rules that will:
 Clarify that the new emergency information requirements apply to video programming provided
by entities that are covered by Section 79.2 of the Commission's rules – i.e., broadcasters,
MVPDs, 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;
 Require that covered entities make an aural presentation of emergency information that is
provided visually in non-newscast programming available on a secondary audio stream;
 Continue to require the use of an aural tone to precede emergency information on the main
program audio, and now also require use of the aural tone to precede emergency information on
the secondary audio stream;
 Permit, but do not require, the use of text-to-speech (“TTS”) technologies as a method for
providing an aural rendition of emergency information, and impose qualitative requirements if
TTS is used;
 Require that emergency information provided aurally on the secondary audio stream be conveyed
at least twice in full;
 Require that emergency information supersede all other programming on the secondary audio
stream;
 Decline to make any substantive revisions to the current definition of emergency information, but
clarify that severe thunderstorms and other severe weather events are included within the current
definition;
 Revise the emergency information rule, as required by the statute, to include video programming
providers (which includes program owners) as parties responsible for making emergency
information available to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, in addition to already
covered video programming distributors, and to allocate responsibilities among covered entities;
 Adopt a compliance deadline of two years from the date of Federal Register publication for
compliance with the emergency information rules adopted in the Report and Order; and

9 See Report and Order Section III.B.1.
10 “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 C.F.R. § 79.3(a)(3).
11 47 U.S.C. §§ 303(u), (z), 330(b). See Report and Order Section IV.A.
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 Grant waivers to The Weather Channel, LLC (“The Weather Channel”) and DIRECTV, LLC
(“DIRECTV”) to provide them with additional time and flexibility to come into compliance with
the rules adopted herein with regard to the provision of local weather alerts during The Weather
Channel’s programming via devices that are not currently capable of providing aural emergency
information on a secondary audio stream.
4.
As discussed in Section IV of the Report and Order, we adopt apparatus requirements for
emergency information and video description pursuant to Section 203 of the CVAA. Specifically, we
adopt rules that will:
 Require apparatus designed to receive, play back, or record video programming transmitted
simultaneously with sound to make secondary audio streams available, because such streams are
the existing mechanism for providing video description and the new mechanism for making
emergency information accessible;
 Decline at this time to adopt specific performance and display standards or policies addressing
certain issues from the 2011 video description proceeding;
 Permit, but do not require, covered apparatus to contain TTS capability;
 Limit applicability of the apparatus requirements, at this time, to apparatus designed to receive,
play back, or record video programming provided by entities subject to Sections 79.2 and 79.3 of
our rules;
 Apply the apparatus requirements to removable media players, but not to professional and
commercial equipment or display-only monitors;
 Find that the apparatus requirements adopted in the Report and Order apply to mobile digital
television (“mobile DTV”) apparatus because such apparatus make available mobile DTV
services, which are provided by television broadcast stations subject to Sections 79.2 and 79.3 of
our rules;
 Implement the statutory provision that permits alternate means of compliance;
 Adopt a compliance deadline of two years from the date of Federal Register publication for
compliance with the apparatus rules adopted in the Report and Order; and
 Adopt procedures for complaints alleging violations of the apparatus requirements adopted in the
Report and Order.

B.

Legal Basis

5.
The authority for the action taken in this rulemaking is contained in the Twenty-First
Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-260, 124 Stat. 2751, and
Sections 4(i), 4(j), 303, 330(b), 713, and 716 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C.
§§ 154(i), 154(j), 303, 330(b), 613, and 617.

C.

Summary of Significant Issues Raised by Public Comments in Response to
the IRFA

6.
No comments were filed in response to the IRFA.

D.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the
Rules Will Apply

7.
The RFA directs the Commission to provide a description of and, where feasible, an
estimate of the number of small entities that will be affected by the rules adopted in the Report and
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Order.12 The RFA generally defines the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms
“small business,” “small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.”13 In addition, the term
“small business” has the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business
Act.14 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 Small
Business Administration (“SBA”).15
8.
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. Transmission facilities may be based
on a single technology or a combination of technologies.”16 The SBA has developed a small business size
standard for this category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees.17 Census data for
2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year.18 Of those 31,996, 1,818
operated with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees.19 Thus,
under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of such firms can be
considered small.
9.
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.20 Industry data indicate that all
but ten cable operators nationwide are small under this size standard.21 In addition, under the
Commission’s rules, a “small system” is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer subscribers.22 Industry
data indicate that, of 6,101 systems nationwide, 4,410 systems have under 10,000 subscribers, and an

12 5 U.S.C. § 603(b)(3).
13 Id. § 601(6).
14 Id. § 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of “small-business concern” in the Small Business Act, 15
U.S.C. § 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies “unless an agency,
after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity for public
comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the agency and
publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register.”
15 15 U.S.C. § 632.
16 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, 517110 Wired Telecommunications Carriers.
17 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
18http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
19 See id.
20 47 C.F.R. § 76.901(e). The Commission determined that this size standard equates approximately to a size
standard of $100 million or less in annual revenues. Implementation of Sections of the 1992 Cable Act: Rate
Regulation,
Sixth Report and Order and Eleventh Order on Reconsideration, 10 FCC Rcd 7393, 7408 (1995).
21 See BROADCASTING & CABLE YEARBOOK 2010 at C-2 (2009) (data current as of Dec. 2008).
22 47 C.F.R. § 76.901(c).
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additional 258 systems have 10,000-19,999 subscribers.23 Thus, under this standard, most cable systems
are small.
10.
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.”24 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.25 Industry data indicate that all
but nine cable operators nationwide are small under this subscriber size standard.26 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,27 and therefore we are unable to estimate
more accurately the number of cable system operators that would qualify as small under this size
standard.
11.
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.”28
The SBA has created the following small business size standard for Television Broadcasting firms: those
having $14 million or less in annual receipts.29 The Commission has estimated the number of licensed
commercial television stations to be 1,387.30 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.31 We therefore estimate that the majority of commercial television broadcasters are small
entities.
12.
We note, however, that in assessing whether a business concern qualifies as small under
the above definition, business (control) affiliations32 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

23 See TELEVISION & CABLE FACTBOOK 2009 at F-2 (2009) (data current as of Oct. 2008). The data do not include
957 systems for which classifying data were not available.
24 47 U.S.C. § 543(m)(2); see 47 C.F.R. § 76.901(f) & nn. 1-3.
25 47 C.F.R. § 76.901(f); see FCC Announces New Subscriber Count for the Definition of Small Cable Operator,
Public Notice, 16 FCC Rcd 2225 (Cable Services Bureau 2001).
26 See BROADCASTING & CABLE YEARBOOK 2010 at C-2 (2009) (data current as of Dec. 2008).
27 The Commission does receive such information on a case-by-case basis if a cable operator appeals a local
franchise authority’s finding that the operator does not qualify as a small cable operator pursuant to § 76.901(f) of
the Commission’s rules. See 47 C.F.R. § 76.901(f).
28 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “515120 Television Broadcasting,” http://www.census.gov./cgi-
bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=515120&search=2007.
29 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; NAICS code 515120.
30 See FCC News Release, “Broadcast Station Totals as of December 31, 2011,” dated January 6, 2012,
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-311837A1.pdf.
31 We recognize that BIA’s estimate differs slightly from the FCC total given supra.
32 “[Business concerns] are affiliates of each other when one concern controls or has the power to control the other
or a third party or parties controls or has to power to control both.” 13 C.F.R. § 21.103(a)(1).
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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.
13.
In addition, the Commission has estimated the number of licensed noncommercial
educational (NCE) television stations to be 396.33 These stations are non-profit, and therefore considered
to be small entities.34
14.
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,”35 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.36
Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year.37 Of those
31,996, 1,818 operated with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100
employees.38 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).39 Each currently offers subscription services.
DIRECTV40 and EchoStar41 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.
15.
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

33 See FCC News Release, “Broadcast Station Totals as of December 31, 2011,” dated January 6, 2012,
http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2012/db0106/DOC-311837A1.pdf.
34 See generally 5 U.S.C. §§ 601(4), (6).
35 See 13 C.F.R. § 121.201, 2007 NAICS code 517110. The 2007 NAICS definition of the category of “Wired
Telecommunications Carriers” is in paragraph 8, above.
36 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
37http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
38 See id.
39 See Annual Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming,
Thirteenth Annual Report, 24 FCC Rcd 542, 580, ¶ 74 (2009) (“13th Annual Report”). We note that, in 2007,
EchoStar purchased the licenses of Dominion Video Satellite, Inc. (“Dominion”) (marketed as Sky Angel). See
Public Notice, “Policy Branch Information; Actions Taken,” Report No. SAT-00474, 22 FCC Rcd 17776 (IB 2007).
40 As of June 2006, DIRECTV is the largest DBS operator and the second largest MVPD, serving an estimated
16.20% of MVPD subscribers nationwide. See 13th Annual Report, 24 FCC Rcd at 687, Table B-3.
41 As of June 2006, DISH Network is the second largest DBS operator and the third largest MVPD, serving an
estimated 13.01% of MVPD subscribers nationwide. See 13th Annual Report, 24 FCC Rcd at 687, Table B-3. As of
June 2006, Dominion served fewer than 500,000 subscribers, which may now be receiving “Sky Angel” service
from DISH Network. See id. at 581, ¶ 76.
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annual receipts, under SBA rules.42 The second has a size standard of $25 million or less in annual
receipts.43
16.
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.”44 Census Bureau data for 2007 show that 607 Satellite
Telecommunications establishments operated for that entire year.45 Of this total, 533 establishments had
annual receipts of under $10 million or less, and 74 establishments had receipts of $10 million or more.46
Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of Satellite Telecommunications firms are
small entities that might be affected by our action.
17.
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.”47 For this category, Census Bureau data for 2007 shows that there were a total of 2,639
establishments that operated for the entire year.48 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.49
Consequently, the Commission estimates that a majority of All Other Telecommunications establishments
are small entities that might be affected by our action.
18.
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,”50 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.51 Census data for 2007

42 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; NAICS code 517410.
43 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; NAICS code 517919.
44 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “517410 Satellite Telecommunications,”
http://www.census.gov./cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=517410&search=2007.
45http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ1&pro
dType=table.
46 See id.
47 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “517919 All Other Telecommunications,”
http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=517919&search=2007%20NAICS%20Search.
48http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ4&pro
dType=table.
49 See id.
50 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
51 See id.
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shows that there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year.52 Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated
with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees.53 Thus, under this
category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of such firms can be considered
small.
19.
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.”54
The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category, which is: all such firms having
1,500 or fewer employees.55 Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that
operated that year.56 Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more than 100 employees, and 30,178
operated with fewer than 100 employees.57 Thus, under this category and the associated small business
size standard, the majority of such firms can be considered small.
20.
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)).58 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.59 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.60

52http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
53 See id.
54 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
55 See id.
56http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
57 See id.
58 Amendment of Parts 21 and 74 of the Commission’s Rules with Regard to Filing Procedures in the Multipoint
Distribution Service and in the Instructional Television Fixed Service and Implementation of Section 309(j) of the
Communications Act—Competitive Bidding
, MM Docket No. 94-131, PP Docket No. 93-253, Report and Order, 10
FCC Rcd 9589, 9593, ¶ 7 (1995).
59 47 C.F.R. § 21.961(b)(1).
60 47 U.S.C. § 309(j). Hundreds of stations were licensed to incumbent MDS licensees prior to implementation of
Section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. § 309(j). For these pre-auction licenses, the
applicable standard is SBA’s small business size standard of 1,500 or fewer employees.
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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.61 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.62
Auction 86 concluded in 2009 with the sale of 61 licenses.63 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.
21.
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.”64 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.65 For these
services, the Commission uses the SBA small business size standard for Wired Telecommunications
Carriers, which is 1,500 or fewer employees.66 Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996
establishments that operated that year.67 Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more than 100 employees,
and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees.68 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.69

61 Auction of Broadband Radio Service (BRS) Licenses, Scheduled for October 27, 2009, Notice and Filing
Requirements, Minimum Opening Bids, Upfront Payments, and Other Procedures for Auction 86
, Public Notice, 24
FCC Rcd 8277 (2009).
62 Id. at 8296.
63 Auction of Broadband Radio Service Licenses Closes, Winning Bidders Announced for Auction 86, Down
Payments Due November 23, 2009, Final Payments Due December 8, 2009, Ten-Day Petition to Deny Period
,
Public Notice, 24 FCC Rcd 13572 (2009).
64 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
65 Id.
66 See id.
67http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
68 See id.
69 http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/UlsSearch/results.jsp.
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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.70
22.
Fixed Microwave Services. Microwave services include common carrier,71 private-
operational fixed,72 and broadcast auxiliary radio services.73 They also include the Local Multipoint
Distribution Service (LMDS),74 the Digital Electronic Message Service (DEMS),75 and the 24 GHz
Service,76 where licensees can choose between common carrier and non-common carrier status.77 At
present, there are approximately 31,428 common 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.78 Under the present and prior categories, the
SBA has deemed a wireless business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees.79 For the category of
“Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite),”80 Census data for 2007 show that there were
11,163 firms that operated for the entire year.81 Of this total, 10,791 firms had employment of 999 or
fewer employees and 372 had employment of 1,000 employees or more.82 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.

70 The term “small entity” within SBREFA applies to small organizations (non-profits) and to small governmental
jurisdictions (cities, counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, and special districts with populations of
less than 50,000). 5 U.S.C. §§ 601(4)-(6).
71 See 47 C.F.R. Part 101, Subparts C and I.
72 See 47 C.F.R. Part 101, Subparts C and H.
73 Auxiliary Microwave Service is governed by Part 74 of Title 47 of the Commission’s Rules. See 47 C.F.R. Part
74. Available to licensees of broadcast stations and to broadcast and cable network entities, broadcast auxiliary
microwave stations are used for relaying broadcast television signals from the studio to the transmitter, or between
two points such as a main studio and an auxiliary studio. The service also includes mobile TV pickups, which relay
signals from a remote location back to the studio.
74 See 47 C.F.R. Part 101, Subpart L.
75 See 47 C.F.R. Part 101, Subpart G.
76 See id.
77 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 101.533, 101.1017.
78 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517210.
79 See id. The now-superseded, pre-2007 C.F.R. citations were 13 C.F.R. § 121.201, NAICS codes 517211 and
517212 (referring to the 2002 NAICS).
80 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; NAICS code 517210.
81http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table. Available Census data do not provide a more precise estimate of the number of firms that have
employment of 1,500 or fewer employees; the largest category provided is for firms with “1000 employees or
more.”
82 See id.
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23.
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.83 The OVS framework provides opportunities for the distribution of video
programming other than through cable systems. Because OVS operators provide subscription services,84
OVS falls within the SBA small business size standard covering cable services, which is “Wired
Telecommunications Carriers.”85 The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this
category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees.86 Census data for 2007 shows that
there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year.87 Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more
than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees.88 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.89 Broadband service providers (“BSPs”) are currently the only significant holders of OVS
certifications or local OVS franchises.90 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.
24.
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.”91 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.92 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.93 Of that number, 462 operated
with annual revenues of $9,999,999 million dollars or less,94 and 197 operated with annual revenues of 10

83 47 U.S.C. § 571(a)(3)-(4). See 13th Annual Report, 24 FCC Rcd at 606, ¶ 135.
84 See 47 U.S.C. § 573.
85 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, http://www.census.gov./cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch.
86 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
87http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
88 See id.
89 A list of OVS certifications may be found at http://www.fcc.gov/mb/ovs/csovscer.html.
90 See 13th Annual Report, 24 FCC Rcd at 606-07, ¶ 135. BSPs are newer firms that are building state-of-the-art,
facilities-based networks to provide video, voice, and data services over a single network.
91 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “515210 Cable and Other Subscription Programming,”
http://www.census.gov./cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch.
92 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 515210.
93 See
http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ1&prod
Type=table.
94 Id.
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million or more.95 Thus, under this category and associated small business size standard, the majority of
firms can be considered small.
25.
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.”96 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.97 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.
26.
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.98 Census data for
2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year.99 Of those 31,996, 1,818
operated with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees.100 Thus,
under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of such firms can be
considered small.
27.
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.101 Census data for 2007 shows that
there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year.102 Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more
than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees.103 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.

95 Id.
96 15 U.S.C. § 632.
97 Letter from Jere W. Glover, Chief Counsel for Advocacy, SBA, to William E. Kennard, Chairman, FCC (May 27,
1999). The Small Business Act contains a definition of “small-business concern,” which the RFA incorporates into
its own definition of “small business.” See 15 U.S.C. § 632(a) (Small Business Act); 5 U.S.C. § 601(3) (RFA).
SBA regulations interpret “small business concern” to include the concept of dominance on a national basis. See 13
C.F.R. § 121.102(b).
98 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
99http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
100 See id.
101 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
102http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pr
odType=table.
103 See id.
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28.
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.”104 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.105 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.106 Of
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.107 Thus, under this category and associated small business
size standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.
29.
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.”108 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.109 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.110 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.111 Thus, under this
category and associated small business size standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.
30.
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

104 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “512110 Motion Picture and Video Production,”
http://www.census.gov./cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=512110&search=2007.
105 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 512110.
106 See http://www.census.gov/econ/industry/ec07/a51211.htm (Subject Series: Establishment and Firm Size
(national) – Table 4: Revenue Size of Firms for the U.S).
107 See id.
108 See U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “512120 Motion Picture and Video Distribution,”
http://www.census.gov./cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=512120&search=2007.
109 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 512120.
110 See http://www.census.gov/econ/industry/ec07/a51212.htm (Subject Series: Establishment and Firm Size
(national) – Table 4: Revenue Size of Firms for the U.S).
111 See id.
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communications equipment, and radio and television studio and broadcasting equipment.”112 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.113 Of those 919 establishments, 771 operated with 99 or fewer employees, and 148
operated with 100 or more employees.114 Thus, under that size standard, the majority of establishments
can be considered small.
31.
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.115 Data contained in the 2007 Economic Census
indicate that 491 establishments in this category operated for part or all of the entire year.116 Of those 491
establishments, 456 operated with 99 or fewer employees, and 35 operated with 100 or more
employees.117 Thus, under the applicable size standard, a majority of manufacturers of audio and video
equipment may be considered small.

E.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance
Requirements for Small Entities

32.
Certain rule changes discussed in the Report and Order would affect reporting,
recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements. In general, the Report and Order satisfies 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-newscast programming.118 The Report and Order also imposes certain apparatus
requirements for emergency information and video description.119
33.
With regard to the emergency information requirements, there are certain provisions that
would require covered entities to make a filing and, thus, to make and keep records of the filing.
Specifically, the Report and Order provides that parties may petition for waiver of these requirements for
good cause pursuant to Section 1.3 of the Commission’s rules.120 DBS operators may petition for a
waiver of the emergency information requirements pursuant to Section 1.3 of the Commission’s rules if

112 See 13 C.F.R § 121.201; U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “334220 Radio and Television
Broadcasting and Wireless Communications Equipment Manufacturing,” http://www.census.gov./cgi-
bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=334220&search=2007.
113http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_31I1&prodTy
pe=table.
114 See id.
115 See 13 C.F.R § 121.201; U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “334310 Audio and Video Equipment
Manufacturing,” http://www.census.gov./cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=334310&search=2007.
116http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_31I1&prodTy
pe=table.
117 See id.
118 Report and Order Section III.B.1.
119 Id. Section IV.A.
120 Id. Section III.B.1.
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they have insufficient spot beam capacity.121 The Report and Order also adopts procedures for
complaints alleging a violation of the emergency information rules.122
34.
With regard to the apparatus requirements, there are certain provisions that would require
covered entities to make a filing and, thus, to make and keep records of the filing. Specifically, the
Report and Order permits parties to raise technical infeasibility as a defense to a complaint or,
alternatively, to file a request for a ruling under Section 1.41 of the Commission’s rules before
manufacturing or importing the product.123 Similarly, the Report and Order permits parties 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.124 Pursuant to the
Report and Order, a party may request a Commission determination of whether its apparatus is an exempt
display-only video monitor, may request a waiver of the requirements for mobile digital television
(“mobile DTV”), and may prospectively request a purpose-based waiver, which will be addressed on a
case-by-case basis.125 Further, a covered entity that seeks to use an “alternate means” to comply with the
apparatus requirements may file a request pursuant to Section 1.41 of the Commission’s rules for a
determination that the proposed alternate means satisfies the statutory requirements.126 The Report and
Order
also adopts procedures for complaints alleging a violation of the emergency information and video
description apparatus rules.127

F.

Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and
Significant Alternatives Considered

35.
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.128 The NPRM invited comment on issues that had the potential to have significant impact on
some small entities.129
36.
These rules in certain instances may have a significant economic impact on some small
entities. Although alternatives to minimize economic impact have been considered, we emphasize that
our action is governed by the congressional mandate contained in Sections 202(a) and 203 of the CVAA.
Specifically, the Report and Order declines to adopt alternative methods to make televised emergency
information accessible to blind and visually impaired persons given the overwhelming support in the
record for use of a secondary audio stream to achieve accessibility.130 For example, the Commission

121 Id.
122 Id. Section III.E.
123 Id. Section IV.B.2.
124 Id.
125 Id. Sections IV.B.2, IV.B.3.
126 Id. Section IV.C.
127 Id. Section IV.E.
128 5 U.S.C. § 603(c)(1)-(c)(4).
129 See NPRM, 27 FCC Rcd at 14756, Appendix B, ¶ 1.
130 Report and Order Section III.B.1.
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considered alternatives that were considered but not recommended by the Video Programming
Accessibility Advisory Committee (“VPAAC”),131 such as: (1) including a shortened audio version of the
textual emergency information on the main program audio; or (2) broadcasting a five to ten second audio
message on the main program audio after the three aural tones to inform individuals who are blind or
visually impaired of a means by which they can access the emergency information, such as a telephone
number or radio station.132 According to the VPAAC, these alternatives have disadvantages, including
interruption to the main program audio that could be disruptive to viewers and the need for sufficient
resources to create and manage the brief audio messages, and no commenters supported these
proposals.133 The Commission also considered other alternatives that were considered but not
recommended by the VPAAC such as “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.134 The VPAAC determined that
these alternatives either did not meet the requirements of the CVAA, relied upon technology or services
that are not widely available, or involved additional problems, and no commenters supported these
proposals.135 Given the importance of providing accessible emergency information to blind and visually
impaired consumers, the Report and Order also declines to create an exception from the requirements of
the revised emergency information rule based on technical capability, but parties, including small entities,
may petition for a waiver for good cause pursuant to Section 1.3 of the Commission’s rules.136 We note
that many covered entities, including small entities, already provide or have the capability to pass through
secondary audio streams, such that any economic impact will be minimized.
37.
With regard to apparatus requirements, the Report and Order adopts procedures enabling
the Commission to grant exemptions to the rules pursuant to Section 203 of the CVAA, where a petitioner
has shown that compliance is not achievable (i.e., cannot be accomplished with reasonable effort or
expense) or is not technically feasible.137 This exemption process will allow the Commission to address
the impact of the rules on individual entities, including smaller entities, and to modify the application of
the rules to accommodate individual circumstances. This will reduce the costs of compliance for these
entities. As an additional means of reducing the costs of compliance, the Report and Order provides that
parties may use alternate means of compliance to the rules adopted pursuant to Section 203 of the
CVAA.138 Under this approach, the Commission will permit an entity that seeks to use an “alternate
means” to comply with the apparatus requirements to file a request pursuant to Section 1.41 of the
Commission’s rules for a determination that the proposed alternate means satisfies the statutory

131 The CVAA directed the Chairman of the Commission to establish an advisory committee known as the VPAAC,
which was directed to develop a report that identifies performance objectives and recommends technical standards
and other necessary regulations for the provision of emergency information and video description. Pub. L. No. 111-
260, § 201(a).
132 Report and Order Section III.B.1.
133 Id.
134 Id.
135 Id.
136 Id.
137 Id. Section IV.B.2.
138 Id. Section IV.C.
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requirements, and the Commission will consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.139 Individual
entities, including smaller entities, may benefit from these provisions.
38.
Overall, we believe we have appropriately considered both the interests of individuals
who are blind and visually impaired and the interests of the entities who will be subject to the rules,
including those that are smaller entities, consistent with Congress’ goal 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.”140

G.

Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict with the Proposed Rules

39.
None.

H.

Report to Congress

40.
The Commission will send a copy of the Report and Order, including this FRFA, in a
report to be sent to Congress pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.141 In addition, the Commission
will send a copy of the Report and Order, including this FRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the
SBA. The Report and Order and FRFA (or summaries thereof) will also be published in the Federal
Register.142

139 Id.
140 H.R. Rep. No. 111-563, 111th Cong., 2d Sess. at 19 (2010); S.Rep. No. 111-386, 111th Cong., 2d Sess. at 1
(2010).
141 See 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(A).
142 See id. § 604(b).
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APPENDIX D

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for the Further Notice

1.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (“RFA”),1 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 Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(“Further Notice”). 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 item. The Commission will send a copy of the Further
Notice
, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration
(“SBA”).2 In addition, the Further Notice and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the
Federal Register.3

A.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rule Changes

2.
The Further Notice4:
 Explores whether a multichannel video programming distributor (“MVPD”) service is covered by
the emergency information rules adopted herein when an MVPD, as defined in the Commission’s
rules, permits its subscribers to access linear video programming that contains emergency
information via tablets, laptops, personal computers, smartphones, or similar devices;
 Explores whether an MVPD system must comply with the video description rules when it permits
its subscribers to access linear video programming via tablets, laptops, personal computers,
smartphones, or similar devices;
 Explores whether the Commission should impose a requirement that broadcast receivers detect
and decode audio streams marked for the visually impaired, to ensure that consumers can find and
locate those streams; and
 Explores whether the Commission should require covered entities to provide customer support
services and contact information to assist consumers who are blind or visually impaired to
navigate between the main and secondary audio streams.

B.

Legal Basis

3.
The proposed action is authorized pursuant to the Twenty-First Century Communications
and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-260, 124 Stat. 2751, and Sections 4(i), 4(j), 303,
330(b), 713, and 716 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), 154(j), 303,
330(b), 613, and 617.

C.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the
Proposals Will Apply

4.
The RFA directs the Commission to provide a description of and, where feasible, an
estimate of the number of small entities that will be affected by the proposed rules if adopted.5 The RFA

1 See 5 U.S.C. § 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. §§ 601-612, has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (“SBREFA”), Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996). The SBREFA
was enacted as Title II of the Contract With America Advancement Act of 1996 (“CWAAA”).
2 See 5 U.S.C. § 603(a).
3 See id.
4 See Further Notice.
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generally defines the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,”
“small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.”6 In addition, the term “small business” has
the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act.7 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 Small Business Administration
(“SBA”).8
5.
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. Transmission facilities may be based
on a single technology or a combination of technologies.”9 The SBA has developed a small business size
standard for this category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees.10 Census data for
2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year.11 Of those 31,996, 1,818
operated with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees.12 Thus,
under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of such firms can be
considered small.
6.
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.13 Industry data indicate that all
but ten cable operators nationwide are small under this size standard.14 In addition, under the
Commission’s rules, a “small system” is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer subscribers.15 Industry
data indicate that, of 6,101 systems nationwide, 4,410 systems have under 10,000 subscribers, and an
(Continued from previous page)
5 5 U.S.C. § 603(b)(3).
6 Id. § 601(6).
7 Id. § 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of “small-business concern” in the Small Business Act, 15
U.S.C. § 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies “unless an agency,
after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity for public
comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the agency and
publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register.”
8 15 U.S.C. § 632.
9 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, 517110 Wired Telecommunications Carriers.
10 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
11http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
12 See id.
13 47 C.F.R. § 76.901(e). The Commission determined that this size standard equates approximately to a size
standard of $100 million or less in annual revenues. Implementation of Sections of the 1992 Cable Act: Rate
Regulation,
Sixth Report and Order and Eleventh Order on Reconsideration, 10 FCC Rcd 7393, 7408 (1995).
14 See BROADCASTING & CABLE YEARBOOK 2010 at C-2 (2009) (data current as of Dec. 2008).
15 47 C.F.R. § 76.901(c).
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additional 258 systems have 10,000-19,999 subscribers.16 Thus, under this standard, most cable systems
are small.
7.
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.”17 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.18 Industry data indicate that all
but nine cable operators nationwide are small under this subscriber size standard.19 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,20 and therefore we are unable to estimate
more accurately the number of cable system operators that would qualify as small under this size
standard.
8.
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.”21
The SBA has created the following small business size standard for Television Broadcasting firms: those
having $14 million or less in annual receipts.22 The Commission has estimated the number of licensed
commercial television stations to be 1,387.23 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.24 We therefore estimate that the majority of commercial television broadcasters are small
entities.
9.
We note, however, that in assessing whether a business concern qualifies as small under
the above definition, business (control) affiliations25 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

16 See TELEVISION & CABLE FACTBOOK 2009 at F-2 (2009) (data current as of Oct. 2008). The data do not include
957 systems for which classifying data were not available.
17 47 U.S.C. § 543(m)(2); see 47 C.F.R. § 76.901(f) & nn. 1-3.
18 47 C.F.R. § 76.901(f); see FCC Announces New Subscriber Count for the Definition of Small Cable Operator,
Public Notice, 16 FCC Rcd 2225 (Cable Services Bureau 2001).
19 See BROADCASTING & CABLE YEARBOOK 2010 at C-2 (2009) (data current as of Dec. 2008).
20 The Commission does receive such information on a case-by-case basis if a cable operator appeals a local
franchise authority’s finding that the operator does not qualify as a small cable operator pursuant to § 76.901(f) of
the Commission’s rules. See 47 C.F.R. § 76.901(f).
21 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “515120 Television Broadcasting,” http://www.census.gov./cgi-
bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=515120&search=2007.
22 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; NAICS code 515120.
23 See FCC News Release, “Broadcast Station Totals as of December 31, 2011,” dated January 6, 2012,
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-311837A1.pdf.
24 We recognize that BIA’s estimate differs slightly from the FCC total given supra.
25 “[Business concerns] are affiliates of each other when one concern controls or has the power to control the other
or a third party or parties controls or has to power to control both.” 13 C.F.R. § 21.103(a)(1).
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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.
10.
In addition, the Commission has estimated the number of licensed noncommercial
educational (NCE) television stations to be 396.26 These stations are non-profit, and therefore considered
to be small entities.27
11.
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,”28 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.29
Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year.30 Of those
31,996, 1,818 operated with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100
employees.31 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).32 Each currently offers subscription services.
DIRECTV33 and EchoStar34 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.
12.
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

26 See FCC News Release, “Broadcast Station Totals as of December 31, 2011,” dated January 6, 2012,
http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2012/db0106/DOC-311837A1.pdf.
27 See generally 5 U.S.C. §§ 601(4), (6).
28 See 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110. The 2007 NAICS definition of the category of “Wired
Telecommunications Carriers” is in paragraph 5, above.
29 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
30http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
31 See id.
32 See Annual Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming,
Thirteenth Annual Report, 24 FCC Rcd 542, 580, ¶ 74 (2009) (“13th Annual Report”). We note that, in 2007,
EchoStar purchased the licenses of Dominion Video Satellite, Inc. (“Dominion”) (marketed as Sky Angel). See
Public Notice, “Policy Branch Information; Actions Taken,” Report No. SAT-00474, 22 FCC Rcd 17776 (IB 2007).
33 As of June 2006, DIRECTV is the largest DBS operator and the second largest MVPD, serving an estimated
16.20% of MVPD subscribers nationwide. See 13th Annual Report, 24 FCC Rcd at 687, Table B-3.
34 As of June 2006, DISH Network is the second largest DBS operator and the third largest MVPD, serving an
estimated 13.01% of MVPD subscribers nationwide. See 13th Annual Report, 24 FCC Rcd at 687, Table B-3. As of
June 2006, Dominion served fewer than 500,000 subscribers, which may now be receiving “Sky Angel” service
from DISH Network. See id. at 581, ¶ 76.
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annual receipts, under SBA rules.35 The second has a size standard of $25 million or less in annual
receipts.36
13.
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.”37 Census Bureau data for 2007 show that 607 Satellite
Telecommunications establishments operated for that entire year.38 Of this total, 533 establishments had
annual receipts of under $10 million or less, and 74 establishments had receipts of $10 million or more.39
Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of Satellite Telecommunications firms are
small entities that might be affected by our action.
14.
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.”40 For this category, Census Bureau data for 2007 shows that there were a total of 2,639
establishments that operated for the entire year.41 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.42
Consequently, the Commission estimates that a majority of All Other Telecommunications establishments
are small entities that might be affected by our action.
15.
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,”43 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.44 Census data for 2007

35 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; NAICS code 517410.
36 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; NAICS code 517919.
37 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “517410 Satellite Telecommunications,”
http://www.census.gov./cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=517410&search=2007.
38http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ1&pro
dType=table.
39 See id.
40 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “517919 All Other Telecommunications,”
http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=517919&search=2007%20NAICS%20Search.
41http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ4&pro
dType=table.
42 See id.
43 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
44 See id.
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shows that there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year.45 Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated
with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees.46 Thus, under this
category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of such firms can be considered
small.
16.
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.”47
The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category, which is: all such firms having
1,500 or fewer employees.48 Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that
operated that year.49 Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more than 100 employees, and 30,178
operated with fewer than 100 employees.50 Thus, under this category and the associated small business
size standard, the majority of such firms can be considered small.
17.
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)).51 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.52 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.53

45http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
46 See id.
47 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
48 See id.
49http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
50 See id.
51 Amendment of Parts 21 and 74 of the Commission’s Rules with Regard to Filing Procedures in the Multipoint
Distribution Service and in the Instructional Television Fixed Service and Implementation of Section 309(j) of the
Communications Act—Competitive Bidding
, MM Docket No. 94-131, PP Docket No. 93-253, Report and Order, 10
FCC Rcd 9589, 9593, ¶ 7 (1995).
52 47 C.F.R. § 21.961(b)(1).
53 47 U.S.C. § 309(j). Hundreds of stations were licensed to incumbent MDS licensees prior to implementation of
Section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. § 309(j). For these pre-auction licenses, the
applicable standard is SBA’s small business size standard of 1,500 or fewer employees.
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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.54 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.55
Auction 86 concluded in 2009 with the sale of 61 licenses.56 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.
18.
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.”57 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.58 For these
services, the Commission uses the SBA small business size standard for Wired Telecommunications
Carriers, which is 1,500 or fewer employees.59 Census data for 2007 shows that there were 31,996
establishments that operated that year.60 Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more than 100 employees,
and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees.61 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.62

54 Auction of Broadband Radio Service (BRS) Licenses, Scheduled for October 27, 2009, Notice and Filing
Requirements, Minimum Opening Bids, Upfront Payments, and Other Procedures for Auction 86
, Public Notice, 24
FCC Rcd 8277 (2009).
55 Id. at 8296.
56 Auction of Broadband Radio Service Licenses Closes, Winning Bidders Announced for Auction 86, Down
Payments Due November 23, 2009, Final Payments Due December 8, 2009, Ten-Day Petition to Deny Period
,
Public Notice, 24 FCC Rcd 13572 (2009).
57 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
58 Id.
59 See id.
60http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
61 See id.
62 http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/UlsSearch/results.jsp.
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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.63
19.
Fixed Microwave Services. Microwave services include common carrier,64 private-
operational fixed,65 and broadcast auxiliary radio services.66 They also include the Local Multipoint
Distribution Service (LMDS),67 the Digital Electronic Message Service (DEMS),68 and the 24 GHz
Service,69 where licensees can choose between common carrier and non-common carrier status.70 At
present, there are approximately 31,428 common 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.71 Under the present and prior categories, the
SBA has deemed a wireless business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees.72 For the category of
“Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite),”73 Census data for 2007 show that there were
11,163 firms that operated for the entire year.74 Of this total, 10,791 firms had employment of 999 or
fewer employees and 372 had employment of 1,000 employees or more.75 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.

63 The term “small entity” within SBREFA applies to small organizations (non-profits) and to small governmental
jurisdictions (cities, counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, and special districts with populations of
less than 50,000). 5 U.S.C. §§ 601(4)-(6).
64 See 47 C.F.R. Part 101, Subparts C and I.
65 See 47 C.F.R. Part 101, Subparts C and H.
66 Auxiliary Microwave Service is governed by Part 74 of Title 47 of the Commission’s Rules. See 47 C.F.R. Part
74. Available to licensees of broadcast stations and to broadcast and cable network entities, broadcast auxiliary
microwave stations are used for relaying broadcast television signals from the studio to the transmitter, or between
two points such as a main studio and an auxiliary studio. The service also includes mobile TV pickups, which relay
signals from a remote location back to the studio.
67 See 47 C.F.R. Part 101, Subpart L.
68 See 47 C.F.R. Part 101, Subpart G.
69 See id.
70 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 101.533, 101.1017.
71 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517210.
72 See id. The now-superseded, pre-2007 C.F.R. citations were 13 C.F.R. § 121.201, NAICS codes 517211 and
517212 (referring to the 2002 NAICS).
73 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; NAICS code 517210.
74http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table. Available Census data do not provide a more precise estimate of the number of firms that have
employment of 1,500 or fewer employees; the largest category provided is for firms with “1000 employees or
more.”
75 See id.
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20.
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.76 The OVS framework provides opportunities for the distribution of video
programming other than through cable systems. Because OVS operators provide subscription services,77
OVS falls within the SBA small business size standard covering cable services, which is “Wired
Telecommunications Carriers.”78 The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this
category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees.79 Census data for 2007 shows that
there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year.80 Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more
than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees.81 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.82 Broadband service providers (“BSPs”) are currently the only significant holders of OVS
certifications or local OVS franchises.83 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.
21.
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.”84 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.85 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.86 Of that number, 462 operated
with annual revenues of $9,999,999 million dollars or less,87 and 197 operated with annual revenues of 10

76 47 U.S.C. § 571(a)(3)-(4). See 13th Annual Report, 24 FCC Rcd at 606, ¶ 135.
77 See 47 U.S.C. § 573.
78 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, http://www.census.gov./cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch.
79 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
80http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
81 See id.
82 A list of OVS certifications may be found at http://www.fcc.gov/mb/ovs/csovscer.html.
83 See 13th Annual Report, 24 FCC Rcd at 606-07, ¶ 135. BSPs are newer firms that are building state-of-the-art,
facilities-based networks to provide video, voice, and data services over a single network.
84 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “515210 Cable and Other Subscription Programming,”
http://www.census.gov./cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch.
85 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 515210.
86 See
http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ1&prod
Type=table.
87 Id.
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million or more.88 Thus, under this category and associated small business size standard, the majority of
firms can be considered small.
22.
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.”89 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.90 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.
23.
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.91 Census data for
2007 shows that there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year.92 Of those 31,996, 1,818
operated with more than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees.93 Thus,
under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of such firms can be
considered small.
24.
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.94 Census data for 2007 shows that
there were 31,996 establishments that operated that year.95 Of those 31,996, 1,818 operated with more
than 100 employees, and 30,178 operated with fewer than 100 employees.96 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.

88 Id.
89 15 U.S.C. § 632.
90 Letter from Jere W. Glover, Chief Counsel for Advocacy, SBA, to William E. Kennard, Chairman, FCC (May 27,
1999). The Small Business Act contains a definition of “small-business concern,” which the RFA incorporates into
its own definition of “small business.” See 15 U.S.C. § 632(a) (Small Business Act); 5 U.S.C. § 601(3) (RFA).
SBA regulations interpret “small business concern” to include the concept of dominance on a national basis. See 13
C.F.R. § 121.102(b).
91 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
92http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
93 See id.
94 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 517110.
95http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_51SSSZ2&pro
dType=table.
96 See id.
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25.
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.”97 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.98 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.99 Of
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.100 Thus, under this category and associated small business
size standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.
26.
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.”101 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.102 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.103 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.104 Thus, under this
category and associated small business size standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.
27.
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

97 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “512110 Motion Picture and Video Production,”
http://www.census.gov./cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=512110&search=2007.
98 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 512110.
99 See http://www.census.gov/econ/industry/ec07/a51211.htm (Subject Series: Establishment and Firm Size
(national) – Table 4: Revenue Size of Firms for the U.S).
100 See id.
101 See U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “512120 Motion Picture and Video Distribution,”
http://www.census.gov./cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=512120&search=2007.
102 13 C.F.R. § 121.201; 2007 NAICS code 512120.
103 See http://www.census.gov/econ/industry/ec07/a51212.htm (Subject Series: Establishment and Firm Size
(national) – Table 4: Revenue Size of Firms for the U.S).
104 See id.
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communications equipment, and radio and television studio and broadcasting equipment.”105 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.106 Of those 919 establishments, 771 operated with 99 or fewer employees, and 148
operated with 100 or more employees.107 Thus, under that size standard, the majority of establishments
can be considered small.
28.
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.108 Data contained in the 2007 Economic Census
indicate that 491 establishments in this category operated for part or all of the entire year.109 Of those 491
establishments, 456 operated with 99 or fewer employees, and 35 operated with 100 or more
employees.110 Thus, under the applicable size standard, a majority of manufacturers of audio and video
equipment may be considered small.

D.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance
Requirements for Small Entities

29.
Certain proposals discussed in the Further Notice would affect reporting, recordkeeping,
or other compliance requirements.
30.
The Further Notice inquires whether, when an MVPD, as defined in the Commission’s
rules, permits its subscribers to access linear video programming that contains emergency information via
tablets, laptops, personal computers, smartphones, or similar devices, this service is covered by the
emergency information rules adopted in the Report and Order.111 An MVPD may seek a waiver of the
emergency information requirements for good cause pursuant to Section 1.3 of the Commission’s rules.112
An MVPD may also be required to respond to complaints alleging a violation of the emergency
information rules and the emergency information and video description apparatus rules.113
31.
The Further Notice also considers whether covered entities should provide customer
support services that are specifically designed to assist consumers who are blind or visually impaired to
navigate between the main and secondary audio streams.114 If the Commission adopts rules requiring the

105 See 13 C.F.R § 121.201; U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “334220 Radio and Television
Broadcasting and Wireless Communications Equipment Manufacturing,” http://www.census.gov./cgi-
bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=334220&search=2007.
106http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_31I1&prodTy
pe=table.
107 See id.
108 See 13 C.F.R § 121.201; U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, “334310 Audio and Video Equipment
Manufacturing,” http://www.census.gov./cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?code=334310&search=2007.
109http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ECN_2007_US_31I1&prodTy
pe=table.
110 See id.
111 See Further Notice.
112 See Report and Order Section III.B.1.
113 Id. Sections III.E, IV.E.
114 See Further Notice.
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provision of such customer support services, covered entities may be required to keep records. For
example, covered entities may be required to make available contact information for the receipt and
handling of immediate emergency information or video description complaints or concerns during a
program’s progress, and for the receipt and handling of written emergency information or video
description complaints that do not raise immediate issues.115

E.

Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and
Significant Alternatives Considered

32.
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.116
33.
First, the Further Notice seeks comment on whether an MVPD service is covered by the
emergency information rules adopted in the Report and Order when an MVPD, as defined in the
Commission’s rules, permits its subscribers to access linear video programming that contains emergency
information via tablets, laptops, personal computers, smartphones, or similar devices.117 The Further
Notice
considers whether there are technological hurdles, if any, that will prevent or impede the delivery
of the secondary audio service on mobile devices and personal computers, and whether obligations should
be shared between MVPDs and apparatus manufacturers.118 These considerations will allow the
Commission to consider the impact of the requirements on covered entities, including smaller entities.
34.
Second, the Further Notice seeks comment on whether an MVPD system must comply
with the video description rules when it permits its subscribers to access linear video programming via
tablets, laptops, personal computers, smartphones, or similar devices.119 We note that an MVPD is
exempt from the pass-through requirement under the video description rules if it does not have the
technical capability necessary to pass through the video description.120 Thus, this exemption is available
to small entities that will face more than minimal costs to comply with the pass-through requirement.
35.
Third, the Further Notice considers whether the Commission should impose a
requirement that broadcast receivers detect and decode audio streams marked for the visually impaired, to
ensure that consumers can find and locate those streams.121 The Further Notice considers the steps
broadcasters and manufacturers would need to take to comply with such a requirement, and whether there
are any other steps the Commission should take to ensure that the content of the secondary audio stream is

115 Id.
116 5 U.S.C. § 603(c)(1)-(c)(4).
117 See Further Notice.
118 Id.
119 Id.
120 Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of
2010
, Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 11847, 11860-62, ¶¶ 23-27 (2011).
121 See Further Notice.
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properly tagged.122 These considerations will allow the Commission to address alternatives that can
potentially minimize the burden and costs of compliance for covered entities, including smaller entities.
36.
Fourth, the Further Notice considers whether the Commission should require covered
entities to provide customer support services and contact information to assist consumers who are blind or
visually impaired to navigate between the main and secondary audio streams.123 The Further Notice
considers alternatives for the provision of customer support services, including whether such services
should consist of a dedicated telephone number, an accessible chat feature on the covered entity’s
website, or a different means by which regulated entities should provide customer support.124 The
Further Notice also considers whether the Commission should require covered entities to make available
contact information for the receipt and handling of immediate emergency information or video
description complaints or concerns during a program’s progress, and for the receipt and handling of
written emergency information or video description complaints that do not raise immediate issues, as in
the television closed captioning context, or whether it should instead adopt contact information
requirements comparable to those applicable to the IP closed captioning rules.125 Further, the Further
Notice
considers whether there other ways by which entities subject to the emergency information and
apparatus requirements can best provide assistance to consumers who are blind or visually impaired with
accessing the secondary audio stream.126 These considerations will allow the Commission to address
alternatives that can potentially minimize the burden and costs of compliance for covered entities,
including smaller entities.

F.

Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict with the Proposed Rules

37.
None.

122 Id.
123 Id.
124 Id.
125 Id.
126 Id.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN

Re:
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
, MB Docket No. 12-107; Video Description: Implementation of the
Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010
, MB Docket No. 11-43
As we continue to meet our deadlines and objectives in implementing the 21st Century
Communications and Video Accessibility Act, I once again applaud the staff of the FCC and our industry
counterparts for yet another win.
For far too long, Americans who are blind or visually impaired were at a severe disadvantage
when it came to accessing and responding to emergency notifications transmitted over the television
airwaves. But because of today’s action, those alerts previously delivered in a visual-only configuration
will now also be made available in an audio format. Ensuring that the video equipment used by those
who are blind and visually impaired is fully capable of transporting timely and important messages is
critical, and I’m also extremely pleased that we have completed another significant step in our video
description rulemakings.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL

Re:
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
, MB Docket No. 12-107; Video Description: Implementation of the
Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010
, MB Docket No. 11-43
Today the Commission takes another important step in implementing the groundbreaking
Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.
When a tornado strikes, a chemical spill happens, or another disaster threatens, broadcasters are
often the first to provide critical information to the public. They break into programming to broadcast
warnings or run text crawls with important information during television shows. This dedication to their
local communities is to be applauded and supported.
But for the more than 21 million Americans who are blind or visually-impaired, access to
televised emergency information is frequently curtailed. When the aural tone signifying emergency
information is not followed with details accessible to this population, such individuals must go in search
of a radio or another alternative to learn about the details of an event. We can and should do better for
millions of people with disabilities in this country.
That is why I am pleased to support today's Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, which requires that an aural presentation of emergency information that is provided visually
in non-newscast programming be made available on a secondary audio stream. Americans who are blind
or visually-impaired will be able to get access to and act upon important information without delay.
Going forward, as technology advances and consumers access programming in new ways, we should
make sure that public safety and access for people with disabilities remain a priority.
As we continue to implement the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility
Act of 2010, I look forward to working with all stakeholders to expand access to communications
technologies and opportunities across the nation. I appreciate the cooperation and hard work of the
providers and distributors of video programming and applaud the tireless advocacy of the many
champions in the disability community.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER AJIT PAI

Re:
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
, MB Docket No. 12-107; Video Description: Implementation of the
Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010
, MB Docket No. 11-43
It is a Commission priority to make a broad range of information accessible to individuals with
disabilities, and emergency information is the most critical because it can make the difference between
life and death. The steps we take today to make emergency information more accessible to those who are
blind or visually impaired continue our implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and
Video Accessibility Act of 2010. I am therefore pleased to support this item. Three points, however,
deserve further comment.
First, we leave for another day the question of whether to grant waivers to small cable systems
that lack the equipment to pass through emergency information on secondary audio streams for analog
channels. I hope that the Media Bureau will look favorably upon such waiver requests; otherwise, there is
a real risk that many small cable systems will shut down rather than bear the cost of complying with our
rules. Such an outcome would be especially unfortunate for those living in rural America, including those
who are blind or visually impaired.
Second, my vote today should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the scope of the apparatus
requirements set forth in our rules. In this item, we interpret Section 303(u)(1) of the Communications
Act in the same manner as did the Commission in the IP Closed Captioning Order. Such consistency
makes sense since the same statutory language should not mean one thing in the closed captioning context
and another thing in the emergency information and video description context.1 That having been said, a
petition for reconsideration of the IP Closed Captioning Order remains pending at the Commission that
addresses whether removable media players are covered by Section 303(u)(1) and whether we should
look only to a device’s capabilities to determine whether it falls within the scope of that statutory
provision.2 I believe that petition for reconsideration is the appropriate vehicle for reassessing the scope
of the apparatus requirements and, especially since I was not serving at the Commission at the time of the
IP Closed Captioning Order, I will approach it with an open mind. Additionally, we should rule on that
petition sooner rather than later.
Third, I am pleased that the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking does not reach any tentative
conclusions about how our emergency information rules apply where an MVPD permits subscribers to
access linear video programming via devices such as tablets and smartphones. Any such tentative
conclusions would have been premature. I look forward to reviewing the record that will be compiled on
this difficult issue over the next few months.

1 Cf. Clark v. Martinez, 543 U.S. 371, 378 (2005) (“To give these same words a different meaning for each category
would be to invent a statute rather than interpret one.”).
2 Petition for Reconsideration of the Consumer Electronics Association, MB Docket No. 11-154 (filed Apr. 30,
2012).
101

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