BWWG Raises New Concerns on EAS Text-to-Speech Ban
The Broadcast Warning Working Group supports FEMA’s request
for the FCC to reverse its position and allow text-to-speech technology for
assembling the legacy EAS audio messages derived from Common Alerting Protocol
alerts when no CAP audio file is provided.
The text-to-speech ban is part of the commission’s recent Fifth Report
& Order on EAS. The commission cited concerns about whether TTS is
sufficiently accurate for warning use and feels that different TTS software
could produce differing audio messages from the same EAS message.
EAS gear manufacturers and a working group of a federal advisory
committee to the FCC recommend disagree, and now so too, does the BWWG, a group
of alerting experts.
In its recent filing to the commission on the topic, the
BWWG agrees that FEMA makes a compelling case that “unintended consequences may
cause a CAP-EAS device to interrupt the alert and convey only the tones with no
FEMA goes on to state the TTS ban “will result in a seriously degraded
user experience for listeners and viewers. It is highly likely in the opinion
of the BWWG that, without TTS, viewers might well experience warning message
content scrolling across their screens that would be cut short prematurely by
the EAS End of Message Tone,” according to BWWG.
Radio listeners would get little to no useful information if the alert is
cut short and the analog audio is garbled, wrote the group.
“Equally telling is FEMA’s assessment that subsequent attempts to
supplement or correct the above conditions with follow-up messages could be
rejected by EAS devices as a repeat of a previously transmitted message,” wrote
BWWG, which adds this outcome based on the TTS ban represents an unacceptable
condition short-term. Long-term, it would undermine the public’s confidence and
that of the emergency management community in the ability of FEMA’s IPAWS OPEN
content aggregator to provide “full value” warning using CAP-EAS.
the TTS Problem
Advisory Committee Urges FCC to Rethink Portion of CAP-EAS Rule