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Review of the Emergency Alert System

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Released: April 19, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-41

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Review of the Emergency Alert System;
)
EB Docket No. 04-296
)
Independent Spanish Broadcasters Association,
)
the Office of Communication of the United
)
Church of Christ, Inc., and the Minority Media
)
and Telecommunications Council, Petition for
)
Immediate Relief
)
)

Randy Gehman Petition for Rulemaking
)

ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION

Adopted: April 19, 2012

Released: April 19, 2012

By the Commission:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
On January 10, 2012, we released our Fifth Report and Order in the above-referenced
docket, in which we adopted rules specifying the manner in which Emergency Alert System (EAS)
Participants must be able to receive alert messages formatted in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP),
and streamlined our Part 11 rules to enhance their effectiveness and clarity.1 In this Order, we reconsider
one aspect of the Fifth Report and Order: the applicability of text-to-speech (TTS) specifications set
forth in the EAS-CAP Industry Group (ECIG) Implementation Guide recommendations.2 As we discuss
below, we are deferring action on, rather than prohibiting, the use of the ECIG Implementation Guide’s
TTS specifications. Accordingly, we amend our EAS rules so that EAS Participants may, but are not
required to, employ the text-to-speech functions described in the ECIG Implementation Guide.3


1 See Review of the Emergency Alert System; Independent Spanish Broadcasters Association, the Office of
Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc., and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council,
Petition for Immediate Relief; Randy Gehman Petition for Rulemaking, EB Docket 04-296, Fifth Report and Order,
27 FCC Rcd 642 (2012) (Fifth Report and Order). CAP is an open, interoperable standard, developed within the
OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) standards process, that
incorporates a language developed and widely used for web documents. CAP-formatted alerts can include audio,
video or data files; images; multilingual translations of alerts; and links providing more detailed information than
what is contained in the initial alert (such as streaming audio or video). CAP utilizes standardized fields that
facilitate interoperability between and among devices. For more on CAP, see Fifth Report and Order at 648-49,
paras. 10-11.
2 As detailed infra, the EAS-CAP Industry Group (ECIG) Implementation Guide sets forth specifications for using
TTS technology. See infra note 7.
3 See Fifth Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 658, para. 38. EAS Participants must be in compliance with these
requirements by June 30, 2012. See Review of the Emergency Alert System; Independent Spanish Broadcasters
Association, The Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc., and the Minority Media and
Telecommunications Council, Petition for Immediate Relief, ET Docket No. 04-296, Fourth Report and Order,
26 FCC Rcd 13710 (2011).

Federal Communications Commission FCC 12-41

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
In the Fifth Report and Order, we limited the scope of the new Part 11 EAS CAP-related
obligations to those necessary to ensure that CAP-formatted alert messages distributed to EAS
Participants will be converted into and processed in the same way as messages formatted in the current
EAS Protocol.4 In that regard, we required EAS Participants to be able to convert CAP-formatted EAS
messages into messages that comply with the EAS Protocol requirements,5 following the procedures for
such conversion as set forth in the ECIG Implementation Guide.6

3.
Notwithstanding that we mandated compliance with most of the ECIG Implementation
Guide, we declined at that time to impose such a mandatory approach with respect to the ECIG
Implementation Guide’s provisions regarding TTS.7 We noted, for example, that the accuracy and
reliability of TTS had not been established in the record.8 We also recognized that a regime that
addressed lack of audio by focusing on the EAS Participant end – where the EAS Participants would
effectuate the TTS conversion by using any of the available TTS software packages that may be
configured into their EAS equipment – might be less desirable than an approach that required the message
originator to make the conversion with TTS software on the originating end. Because of the need for
multiple conversions using a variety of software, the former approach would be more prone to the
generation of differing, and thus confusing, audio messages to be broadcast for the same EAS message.
The latter approach would tend to avoid this risk by applying the conversion before the alert is widely
distributed throughout the community of EAS Participants.9 We further observed that the Federal
Communications Commission (Commission) may consider the TTS issue in an upcoming proceeding.10
Accordingly, we stated that we “continue to believe that discussion of text-to-speech and speech-to-text
software is best reserved for a separate proceeding, and [that] we therefore defer these issues at this
time.11
4.
In order to avoid imposing the Guide’s mandatory approach toward TTS conversions –
which would have required EAS Participants to effectuate such conversions using EAS Participant-
provided technologies if their EAS devices could support them – we revised section 11.56 of the
Commission’s rules12 to preclude application of the Guide’s mandatory requirement outright, as follows:


4 See Fifth Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 642, 654, para. 4.
5 See 47 C.F.R. § 11.31.
6 See Fifth Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 657-59, paras. 36-40.
7 For EAS messages that lack audio, the ECIG Implementation Guide’s provisions on TTS require an EAS
Participant to use TTS technology (provided on the EAS Participant end) if the EAS Participant’s EAS device
supports such technology. Id. at 658, para. 38 (citing ECIG Implementation Guide, § 3.5.1).
8 Id.
9 Id.
10 For example, a proceeding related to implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video
Accessibility Act of 2010. See id., n.122.
11 Id., para. 38. See also, Review of the Emergency Alert System; Independent Spanish Broadcasters Association,
the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc., and the Minority Media and Telecommunications
Council, Petition for Immediate Relief; Randy Gehman Petition for Rulemaking, EB Docket 04-296, Third Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
, 26 FCC Rcd. 8149, 8219-20, para. 195 (2011) (“we believe that discussion of
speech-to-text (as well as text-to-speech) software is best reserved for our Broadband Alerting Notice of Inquiry, or
other more appropriate proceedings”) (footnote omitted).
12 47 C.F.R. § 11.56.
2

Federal Communications Commission FCC 12-41

(a) On or by June 30, 2012, EAS Participants must have deployed operational equipment that is
capable of the following:

(2) Converting EAS alert messages that have been formatted pursuant to the (i) Organization for
the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) Common Alerting Protocol
Version 1.2 (July 1, 2010), and (ii) Common Alerting Protocol, v. 1.2 USA Integrated Public
Alert and Warning System Profile Version 1.0 (Oct. 13, 2009), into EAS alert messages that
comply with the EAS Protocol … in accordance with the technical specifications governing such
conversion process set forth in the EAS-CAP Industry Group’s (ECIG) Recommendations for a
CAP EAS Implementation Guide, Version 1.0 (May 17, 2010) (except that any and all
specifications set forth therein related to using text-to-speech technology
shall not be
followed
).13 …
5.
We also stated in the Fifth Report and Order that “we do not permit the construction of
EAS audio from a CAP text message at this time,”14 and noted that “we will not allow EAS Participants
to use text-to-speech software configured in their EAS equipment to generate the audio portion of an EAS
message.”15
6.
On March 12, 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) made a filing,
titled a “Petition for Reconsideration” (FEMA Request), requesting reversal of the Commission’s
decision in the Fifth Report and Order “to deviate from the [ECIG] Implementation Guide in the matter
of text-to-speech conversion.”16 In its request, FEMA states that the Commission, by prohibiting use of
the ECIG Implementation Guide TTS specifications “discourages and … limits further development of
text-to-speech technology in support of EAS.”17 FEMA also notes that an “unintended consequence of
disallowing [TTS] conversion by CAP EAS devices is that CAP messages supplied without audio content
… may cause a CAP-EAS device to interrupt the programming of EAS participants” and only convey
limited information.18 According to FEMA, the lack of TTS conversion capability could possibly disrupt
dissemination of National Weather Service alerts, delay retrieval of referenced audio files in alerts, and
impact the ability of jurisdictions with limited resources, or those with certain, already implemented CAP
alerting capabilities, to issue CAP-formatted alerts.19 FEMA requested that the Commission delete the


13 Obligation to Process CAP-Formatted EAS Messages, 77 Fed. Reg. 16,706 (2012) (to be codified at 47 C.F.R. §
11.56(a)(2) (emphasis added)).
14 Fifth Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 642, 658 n.118.
15 Id. at 699 n.496.
16 Federal Emergency Management Agency Petition for Reconsideration, EB Docket 04-296 (filed March 12, 2012)
(FEMA Request). Subsequently, and before publication of the Fifth Report and Order in the Federal Register on
March 22, 2012, a number of filings requesting similar action were made in this docket. See infra note 22. We do
not treat these requests as petitions for reconsideration that are properly filed, but rather consider their merits on our
own motion. 47 C.F.R. § 1.108; see, e.g., Petitions for Reconsideration of the Second Report and Order
Implementation of Section 207 of the 1996 Act,
14 FCC Rcd 19924, 19925, para. 3 (1999) (petition for
reconsideration of rulemaking decision that was filed before Federal Register publication is prematurely filed,
although Commission considered the request sua sponte).
17 FEMA Request at 2.
18 Id. at 2-3.
19 Id. at 3-4.
3

Federal Communications Commission FCC 12-41

reference to “using text-to-speech technology” from the revised section 11.56(a)(2).20 The recent Final
Report of Working Group 9 of the Commission’s third Communications Security, Reliability and
Interoperability Council (CSRIC) reiterates these same concerns.21 We have also received filings from
state and local emergency management agencies and others requesting a similar change to this rule.22

III.

DISCUSSION

7.
Upon review of our Fifth Report and Order, and based on the observations and
arguments made in various filings since release of that decision, we have concluded that an absolute bar
against using the specifications set out in the ECIG Implementation Guide could have unintended
negative consequences, such as compromising the ability of EAS Participants to receive EAS messages
from states and local governments that have implemented CAP-based alerting systems that rely on TTS
technologies. Moreover, such a bar would depart from our original intention to maintain a more neutral
stance on the best approach for establishing TTS requirements pending fuller consideration of the issues
involved. And we are convinced that the merits of mandating TTS use have yet to be fully developed in
the record.
8.
Accordingly, pursuant to section 1.108 of our rules,23 on our own motion we reconsider
and revise section 11.56(a)(2) of our rules to replace the parenthetical phrase “except that any and all
specifications set forth therein related to using text-to-speech technology and gubernatorial ‘must carry’
shall not be followed” with the phrase “except that any and all specifications set forth therein related to
gubernatorial ‘must carry’ shall not be followed, and that EAS Participants may adhere to the
specifications related to text-to-speech on a voluntary basis.”24 We also revise footnote 118 of the Fifth
Report and Order
to delete the phrase “While we do not permit the construction of EAS audio from a
CAP text message at this time . . . ”25 and revise footnote 496 of the Fifth Report and Order to delete the
phrase “ . . . we will not allow EAS Participants to use text-to-speech software configured in their EAS
equipment to generate the audio portion of an EAS message . . .”26 With these revisions, we hereby defer
consideration of the ECIG Implementation Guide’s adoption of TTS software configured in EAS
equipment to generate the audio portion of an EAS message, and thus neither require nor prohibit EAS
Participants from following the ECIG Implementation Guide’s specifications on use of TTS.


20 Id. at 4.
21 See Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council, Working Group 9, Final Report – Part 1
(March 2012) at 11-14.
22 See e.g., Douglas County, KS Emergency Management, Ex Parte Comment, EB Docket 04-296 (filed March 27,
2012); Colorado Emergency Management Association, Ex Parte Comment, EB Docket 04-296 (filed March 26,
2012); City of Fairfax (VA) Emergency Management, Ex Parte Comment, EB Docket 04-296 (filed March 23,
2012); National Association of Broadcasters, Notice of Ex Parte Communication, EB Docket 04-296 (filed Feb. 15,
2012) at 1; EAS-CAP Industry Group (ECIG), Ex Parte Comment, EB Docket 04-296 (filed March 12, 2012) at 1-4.
23 47 C.F.R. § 1.108.
24 The revised rule is contained in the Appendix to this order.
25 Fifth Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 642, 658 n.118
26 Id. at 699 n.496.
4

Federal Communications Commission FCC 12-41

IV.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

A.

Accessible Formats

9.
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 Consumer & Governmental
Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

B.

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

10.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)27 requires that agencies prepare a regulatory
flexibility analysis for notice-and-comment rulemaking proceedings, unless the agency certifies that “the
rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.”28 In this
Order, we remove the prohibition on following the ECIG Implementation Guide’s specifications related
to using TTS technology, and clarify that EAS Participants may, but are not required, to use these
specifications. We hereby certify that this rule revision will not have a significant economic impact on a
substantial number of small entities, because this action merely provides EAS Participants with the option
to use these specifications. EAS Participants may continue to opt not to use these specifications and
thereby maintain the status quo. The Commission will send a copy of this Order, including this
certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.29 In addition, we
will publish this Order (or a summary thereof) and certification in the Federal Register.30

C.

Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

11.
This document contains no modified information collection requirements subject to the
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13.

D.

Congressional Review Act

12.
The Commission will send a copy of this Order on Reconsideration in a report to be sent
to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act
(“CRA”), see 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(A).

E.

Effective Date of Rule

13.
We make this rule revision effective immediately upon publication in the Federal
Register, pursuant to Section 553(d) of the Administrative Procedure Act.31 In this case, where our action
removes a restriction that would have applied to EAS Participants and retains the status quo, we find there
is no need for the 30-day period.32 In addition, we conclude that good cause exists to make the rule
effective immediately upon Federal Register publication.33 In making the good cause determination,


27 See 5 U.S.C. § 604. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. § 601 et. seq., has been amended by the Contract With America
Advancement Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-121, 110 Stat. 847 (1996) (CWAAA). Title II of the CWAAA is the
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA).
28 5 U.S.C. § 605(b).
29 Id.
30 Id.
31 5 U.S.C. § 553(d).
32 See 5 U.S.C. § 553(d)(1) (a substantive rule that “grants or recognizes an exemption or relieves a restriction” can
be made effective with less than thirty days’ notice).
33 See 5 U.S.C. § 553(d)(3).
5

Federal Communications Commission FCC 12-41

agencies must balance the necessity for immediate implementation against principles of fundamental
fairness that require that all affected persons be afforded a reasonable time to prepare for the effective
date of a new rule.34 No party will be prejudiced by an expedited effective date for this rule revision.
This revision simply now provides them with the option to follow the ECIG Implementation Guide’s TTS
provisions should they choose to do so. However, the expedited date is necessary to provide the parties
with regulatory certainty sufficiently in advance of the current June 30, 2012, deadline for complying
with the relevant requirements of the Fifth Report and Order. There is also no information collection
associated with this rule revision, so no OMB approval is required for the revised rule.

V.

ORDERING CLAUSES

14.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to section 1.108 of the Commission’s rules,
47 C.F.R. § 1.108, this Order on Reconsideration IS ADOPTED;
15.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Part 11 of the Commission’s Rules, 47 C.F.R. Part 11,
IS AMENDED as set forth in the Appendix. This Order shall become effective immediately upon
publication in the Federal Register;
16.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Petition for Reconsideration filed of the Federal
Emergency Management Agency on March 12, 2012, in EB Docket 04-296 is dismissed as moot;
17.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission’s Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Order on Reconsideration,
including the Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small
Business Administration.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary


34 See, e.g., Omnipoint Corporation v. FCC, 78 F.3d 620, 630 (D.C. Cir. 1996), citing United States v. Gavrilovic,
551 F.2d 1099, 1105 (8th Cir. 1977).
6

Federal Communications Commission FCC 12-41

APPENDIX

Final Rules

For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends 47 CFR
Part 11 to read as follows:

PART 11 – EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM (EAS)

1.
The authority citation for part 11 continues to read as follows:
Authority: 47 U.S.C. 151, 154 (i) and (o), 303(r), 544(g) and 606.
2.
Amend § 11.56 by revising paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows:
§ 11.56 Obligation to Process CAP-Formatted EAS Messages.
(a) * * *
(2) Converting EAS alert messages that have been formatted pursuant to the (i) Organization for the
Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) Common Alerting Protocol Version 1.2 (July
1, 2010), and (ii) Common Alerting Protocol, v. 1.2 USA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System
Profile Version 1.0 (Oct. 13, 2009), into EAS alert messages that comply with the EAS Protocol, such
that the Preamble and EAS Header Codes, audio Attention Signal, audio message, and Preamble and EAS
End of Message (EOM) Codes of such messages are rendered equivalent to the EAS Protocol (set forth in
§11.31), in accordance with the technical specifications governing such conversion process set forth in the
EAS-CAP Industry Group’s (ECIG) Recommendations for a CAP EAS Implementation Guide, Version
1.0 (May 17, 2010) (except that any and all specifications set forth therein related to gubernatorial “must
carry” shall not be followed, and that EAS Participants may adhere to the specifications related to text-to-
speech on a voluntary basis). * * *
* * * * *
7

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