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SBE Files with FCC to Delay Audio Crawl Deadline

April 20, 2015

On April 9, 2015, the Society of Broadcast Engineers filed comments with the FCC in response to the public notice in MB Dockets 12-107 and 11-43. The public notice responds to a petition filed by the National Association of Broadcasters requesting a temporary partial exemption and limited waiver of Section 79.2(b)(2)(ii) of the Commission's rules requiring broadcasters to provide an aural representation of visual emergency information on a secondary audio stream. The purpose of the rule is to ensure that emergency information provided visually during non-newscast programming is made accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired through the use of a secondary audio stream. The rule sets a compliance deadline by all broadcasters of May 26, 2015. The NAB requests a six-month partial exemption from or limited waiver of the requirement to provide an aural representation of visual emergency information on a secondary audio stream until Nov. 26, 2015 because the hardware and software necessary for broadcasters to aurally transcribe emergency information crawls has not yet been released and delivered by the vendors in many cases, and additional time is needed for testing, order, shipment, and installation of the solution developed by the vendors.

The NAB also asks that the Commission waive the requirement that visual but non-textual emergency information be included in the aural representation of emergency information on the secondary audio stream until technological solutions are available. At the present time, radar maps and similar moving graphics do not contain text files that can be converted to speech so the ability to comply with the requirement does not exist now. Third, the NAB requests a temporary waiver of the requirement that broadcasters aurally convey school closing information on the secondary audio stream while alternatives can be considered.

The SBE notes that it is impossible to comply with the current rules no or on May 26. The SBE comments support the NAB request to delay the deadline with supporting information that details the current state of the available technology.

The complete filing is available at the SBE website under the Legislative/Advocacy menu.

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