Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
In addition to filing comments with the Secretary, a copy of any comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act proposed information collection requirements contained herein should be submitted to the Federal Communications Commission via email to
This is a summary of the Commission's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 12-142, adopted on November 16, 2012, and released on November 19, 2012. The full text is available for public inspection and copying during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. This document will also be available via ECFS at
This document contains proposed information collection requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the information collection requirements contained in this document, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. Public and agency comments are due January 28, 2013.
Comments should address: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimates; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and (e) ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees. In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198,
To view or obtain a copy of this information collection request (ICR) submitted to OMB: (1) Go to this OMB/GSA Web page:
Pursuant to existing rule 47 CFR 79.2, consumers may file complaints alleging violations of the accessible emergency information requirements. As a result of the proposed revisions to the existing rule, we have estimated in increase in the number of complaints filed annually pursuant to this rule.
Pursuant to proposals contained in the NPRM, consumers could file complaints alleging violations of the proposed rules containing apparatus emergency information and video description requirements, 47 CFR 79.105-79.106. A complaint alleging a violation of the apparatus rules related to emergency information and video description may be transmitted to the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau by any reasonable means, such as the Commission's online informal complaint filing system, letter in writing or Braille, facsimile transmission, telephone (voice/TRS/TTY), email, or some other method that would best accommodate the complainant's disability. Given that the population intended to benefit from the rules adopted would be blind or visually impaired, if a complainant calls the Commission for assistance in preparing a complaint, Commission staff would document the complaint in writing for the consumer and such communication would be deemed a written complaint. The NPRM proposes that such complaints should include certain information about the complainant and the alleged violation. The Commission will forward such complaints, as appropriate, to the named manufacturer or provider for its response, as well as to any other entity that Commission staff determines may be involved, and may request additional information from any relevant parties when, in the estimation of Commission staff, such information is needed to investigate the complaint or adjudicate potential violations of Commission rules.The Commission is seeking OMB approval for the proposed information collection requirements.
1. The Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) initiates this proceeding to implement the provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“CVAA”) requiring that emergency information be made accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired and that certain equipment be capable of delivering video description and emergency information to those individuals. First, pursuant to section 202 of the CVAA, this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“
2. Section 202 of the CVAA requires the Commission to complete a proceeding to “identify methods to
3. The CVAA also required the Chairman of the Commission to establish an advisory committee known as the Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee (“VPAAC”). The Commission announced the establishment of the VPAAC on December 7, 2010, and the committee began meeting in January 2011. The VPAAC divided itself into four advisory working groups, with Working Group 3 focused on emergency information and Working Group 2 focused on video description. Section 201(e)(2) of the CVAA required the VPAAC to submit a report on video description and emergency information to the Commission within 18 months after the date of enactment of the CVAA, or by April 9, 2012. The VPAAC submitted this report on April 9, 2012.
4. The Commission previously addressed the issue of making televised emergency information accessible to those who are blind or visually impaired in 2000.
5. In addition to emergency information, we also consider access to video description in this proceeding. Video description services make video programming accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Video description is the insertion of audio narrated descriptions of a
6. At the outset, we do not, at this time, extend the scope of the emergency information and video description rules in this proceeding beyond the category of programming already covered by our existing emergency information and video description rules.
7. The CVAA requires us to “promulgate regulations that require video programming providers and video programming distributors [as defined in § 79.1 of our rules] and program owners to convey such emergency information in a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.” 47 U.S.C. 613(g)(2). Based upon the VPAAC Second Report and the record assembled in this proceeding regarding the relative advantages and disadvantages of several possible methods, discussed below, we propose to require covered entities to make emergency information that is provided visually during programming that is not a newscast (such as that provided via crawls) accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired by using a secondary audio stream to provide that emergency information aurally and concurrently with the emergency information being conveyed visually.
8. As noted above, our emergency information rules currently require video programming distributors to do two things to make emergency information accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
9. Second, for emergency information that is provided in the video portion of programming that is not a regularly scheduled newscast or a newscast that interrupts regular programming, under our current rules video programming distributors must accompany the emergency information with an aural tone. 47 CFR 79.2(b)(1)(iii). We seek comment on our proposal to modify this requirement as the VPAAC advocates by requiring video programming distributors to make emergency information available on a secondary audio stream, if that information is provided visually in programming that
10. We seek comment on the benefits of providing accessible emergency information on a secondary audio stream and the incremental costs of providing a secondary audio stream for this purpose. Are there any broadcasters or MVPDs that do not currently provide a secondary audio stream, and if so, should the new rules apply any differently to them? We explained in the
11. We invite input on the implementation of our proposal to require covered entities to make emergency information that is provided visually during programming that is not a newscast (such as that provided via crawls) accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired by using a secondary audio stream to provide that emergency information aurally and concurrently with the emergency information being conveyed visually. What time frame is appropriate for requiring covered entities to convey emergency information in a secondary audio stream? What steps must covered entities take to meet this requirement? Should we require covered entities to provide customer support services to assist consumers who are blind or visually impaired to navigate between the main and secondary audio streams to access accessible emergency information? We seek comment on whether the Commission should update its definition of “emergency information.”
12. Assuming the Commission requires that visual emergency information be made accessible by means of a secondary audio stream, to what extent should the Commission permit the use of text-to-speech (“TTS”) technologies? TTS is a technology that generates an audio version of a textual message. The VPAAC found TTS to be essential for conveying emergency information because of the speed with which it can generate the necessary audio.
13. Should we require emergency information presented aurally to be identical to that presented textually, or should differences be permissible as long as the information presented aurally is comprehensive and satisfies the requirements of § 79.2(a)(2)? We note that emergency information is defined as “[i]nformation, about a current emergency, that is intended to further the protection of life, health, safety, and property,
14. The Commission's rules currently prohibit emergency information from blocking video description, and they prohibit video description from blocking emergency information provided by means other than video description. 47 CFR 79.2(b)(3)(ii). The VPAAC recommends eliminating the portion of this rule that prohibits emergency information from blocking video description, given their recommendation that “emergency information conveyed visually by crawl or scroll also be conveyed aurally utilizing the same audio stream as the video description audio stream.” The VPAAC recommends that § 79.2(b)(3)(ii) be amended to read as follows: “Any video description provided should not block any emergency information provided by video description or by means other than video description.” We propose that this be simplified to read as follows: “Any video description provided should not block any emergency information.” We seek comment on this proposal. Should this proposal be expanded to require such aural emergency information to supersede any content that may be present on the secondary audio stream (
15. Do the proposed revisions to the emergency information requirements necessitate any revisions to FCC Form 2000C, the disability access complaint form, or the existing complaint procedures contained in § 79.2(c) of our rules? If so, what revisions are needed?
16. We also seek comment on the roles of the various entities listed in section 202. That provision mandates that we “require video programming providers and video programming distributors (as those terms are defined in section 79.1 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations) and program owners to convey such emergency information in a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.” 47 U.S.C. 613(g)(2). Section 79.1 of our rules defines a “video programming distributor” as “[a]ny television broadcast station licensed by the Commission and any multichannel video programming distributor as defined in § 76.1000(e) of this chapter, and any other distributor of video programming for residential reception that delivers such programming directly to the home and is subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission.” 47 CFR 79.1(a)(2). That section defines a “video programming provider” as “[a]ny video programming distributor and any other entity that provides video programming that is intended for distribution to residential households including, but not limited to broadcast or nonbroadcast television network and the owners of such programming.” 47 CFR 79.1(a)(3). Section 79.2 of the Commission's rules currently imposes emergency information accessibility requirements on video programming distributors only, but section 202(a) of the CVAA requires us to promulgate regulations containing requirements for video programming providers and program owners as well as video programming distributors. 47 U.S.C. 613(g)(2). What role should video programming distributors, video programming providers, and program owners play in ensuring that emergency information is conveyed in an accessible manner? Should video programming distributors hold the primary responsibility, with video programming providers and program owners being prohibited from interfering with or hindering a video programming distributor's provision of accessible emergency information? Or, are there certain responsibilities that should be allocated to each of the covered entities? What entity is generally responsible for preparing a crawl or scroll containing emergency information, and how does that responsibility affect the obligation to provide an aural version of the information?
17. As noted, § 79.1 of the Commission's rules includes definitions for the terms “video programming provider” and “video programming distributor,” but it does not define “program owner.”
18. The VPAAC identified additional or alternative methods to convey emergency information in a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, other than the use of a secondary audio stream.
19. Pursuant to section 203 of the CVAA, the Commission must require certain apparatus to have the capability to decode and make available required video description services and emergency information in a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. 47 U.S.C. 303(u), (z), 330(b). The Commission must prescribe these requirements by October 9, 2013. The regulations promulgated as part of the current proceeding must include “any technical standards, protocols, and procedures needed for the transmission of” video description and emergency information. Public Law 111-260, § 203(d). Below we seek comment on requirements for apparatus with regard to video description and emergency information. Our section 203 discussion focuses on the availability of secondary audio streams, because that is both the current mechanism for providing video description and our proposed mechanism for making emergency information accessible.
20. Pursuant to section 203 of the CVAA, “apparatus designed to receive or play back video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound, if such apparatus is manufactured in the United States or imported for use in the United States and uses a picture screen of any size,” must “have the capability to decode and make available the transmission and delivery of” required video description services. 47 U.S.C. 303(u)(1)(B). Such apparatus must also “have the capability to decode and make available emergency information * * * in a manner that is accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.” 47 U.S.C. 303(u)(1)(C). We seek comment on the meaning of these requirements. What specific capabilities should the Commission mandate? What steps must manufacturers of covered apparatus take to ensure that video description services and emergency information provided via a secondary audio stream are available and accessible? How should we balance the costs of compliance for apparatus subject to section 203 of the CVAA and the benefits to consumers? With respect to MVPD-provided apparatus, should we impose different requirements on equipment provided by different types of MVPDs? For example, the House Committee Report indicated that DBS providers may face unique technical challenges pertaining to compliance with section 203 of the CVAA. We seek comment on whether apparatus should have the capability to make textual emergency information audible through the use of text-to-speech, consistent with our discussion above in paragraph 12 or whether there are any other specific capabilities that apparatus would need to include to comply with these requirements beyond the ability to select and decode a secondary audio stream. If so, should we require broadcasters and MVPDs to make the textual emergency information available to apparatus?
21. We also seek comment on the requirements for recording devices, namely, that “apparatus designed to record video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound * * * enable the rendering or the pass through of * * * video description signals, and emergency information * * * such that viewers are able to activate and de-activate the * * * video description as the video programming is played back on a picture screen of any size.” 47 U.S.C. 303(z)(1). What should we require of recording devices to “enable the rendering or the pass through of” video description and emergency information? We seek comment on the benefits and incremental costs to ensuring that video description and accessible emergency information, when provided as proposed on the secondary audio stream, are recorded and can be activated or de-activated when played back. How do requirements relating to emergency information apply to recording devices, given that emergency information is, by its nature, extremely time sensitive? How should we expect recording devices to ensure that the secondary audio stream is stored along with the associated video, such that a consumer may switch between the main program audio and the secondary audio stream when viewing recorded programming?
22. The Commission's rules must “provide performance and display standards for * * * the transmission and delivery of video description
23. Section 203 of the CVAA directs the Commission to require that “interconnection mechanisms and standards for digital video source devices are available to carry from the source device to the consumer equipment the information necessary to permit or render the display of closed captions and to make encoded video description and emergency information audible.” 47 U.S.C. 303(z)(2). It is our understanding that most, if not all, devices already use interconnection mechanisms that make available audio provided via a secondary audio stream. Thus, we do not believe that any further steps are necessary to implement this requirement. We seek comment on our understanding.
24. We seek comment on three issues that arose in the 2011 video description proceeding that may be relevant here. They pertain to equipment features that present challenges for video programming distributors and consumers. First, the
25. Second, Dolby Laboratories, Inc. commented that the audio experience for individuals accessing video-described programming could be enhanced if devices supported a “receiver-mix” technology that would enable the device to combine the full surround sound main audio with video description. Although it is technically possible for broadcasters and some MVPDs to provide two full surround channels, the additional bandwidth required to do so could pose a hardship for those entities. In the
26. Third, although the ATSC standard for digital television broadcasting enables the use of multiple audio streams (including, for example, the concurrent use of a main audio stream, a secondary video description stream, and a third stream containing Spanish or other foreign language audio), it is our understanding that few, if any, broadcasters or MVPDs provide more than two audio streams, and few devices are able to accommodate more than two audio streams. The
27. We invite comment on the appropriate deadline by which we should require apparatus to meet the requirements that we adopt as part of this proceeding. We note that the Commission has previously imposed a two-year deadline for apparatus requirements, for example, in the
28. In order to address any failures to comply with the new requirements after the established deadline, we propose imposing complaint procedures comparable to those adopted for apparatus complaints in the
29. With respect to the filing of complaints, we propose that complaints alleging a violation should include: (a) The name, postal address, and other contact information of the complainant, such as telephone number or email address; (b) the name and contact information, such as postal address, of the apparatus manufacturer or provider; (c) information sufficient to identify the software or device used to view or to attempt to view video programming with video description or emergency information; (d) the date or dates on which the complainant purchased, acquired, or used, or tried to purchase, acquire, or use the apparatus to view video programming with video description or emergency information; (e) a statement of facts sufficient to show that the manufacturer or provider has violated or is violating the Commission's rules; (f) the specific relief or satisfaction sought by the complainant; and (g) the complainant's preferred format or method of response to the complaint. In addition, we propose that a complaint alleging a violation of the apparatus rules related to emergency information and video description may be transmitted to the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau by any reasonable means, such as the Commission's online informal complaint filing system, letter in writing or Braille, facsimile transmission, telephone (voice/TRS/TTY), email, or some other method that would best accommodate the complainant's disability. Given that the population intended to benefit from the rules adopted will be blind or visually impaired, we also note that, if a complainant calls the Commission for assistance in preparing a complaint, Commission staff will document the complaint in writing for the consumer and such communication will be deemed to be a written complaint. We also propose that the Commission will