Touchstone Consulting Group’s Gary Timm, a former broadcast engineer with experience in alerting, is analyzing the FCC’s recent EAS decision.
The FCC Fifth Report and Order (PDF) released on Jan. 10 amends the EAS rules to accommodate Common Alerting Protocol messages.
Timm states on the Alerts, Warnings & Response to Emergencies blog that the commission originally wasn’t so hot about allowing the use of enhanced text displays that could be derived from CAP alerts. The agency felt that the difference between CAP-derived text and that of text derived from legacy EAS messages might lead to public confusion.
Now, the FCC has been swayed by public comments. “The FCC in the final ruling not only allows the enhanced CAP text, its use is required ‘to the extent that such text is supplied by the alert initiator,’” notes Timm. CAP converters must also include the ability to display the enhanced CAP text, but those devices have until June 30, 2015 to comply.
However the FCC has prohibited the use of text-to-speech for assembling the legacy EAS audio messages derived from CAP alerts when no CAP audio file is provided, according to Timm. In paragraph 38 of the Report and Order, the FCC cites concerns as to whether TTS is “sufficiently accurate” for EAS use and the agency feels that different TTS software could produce differing audio messages from the same EAS message. Timm speculates whether EAS encoder/decoder manufacturers will file petitions for reconsideration on this issue and notes broadcasters may wish to file as well.