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BWWG Raises New Concerns on EAS Text-to-Speech Ban

Ban may result in ‘seriously degraded user experience’ say alerting experts

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 actual message.”

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.

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