FCC Issues NPRM To Propose New EAS Event Codes

In a notice of proposed rulemaking adopted July 8, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to revise the FCC Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules, as set forth in a letter and subsequent comments filed by the National Weather Service (NWS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Specifically, the NWS requests that the Commission add three new EAS event codes, covering extreme wind and storm surges, as well as revise the territorial boundaries of the geographic location codes for two offshore marine areas listed in the EAS rules as location codes 75 and 77. The FCC agreed with the NWS that targeted, specific warnings “will help the public and emergency officials better respond to local threat(s).”
The codes specifically requested by the NWS:

Extreme Wind Warning (EWW)
To provide advance notice of the onset of extreme sustained surface winds (greater than or equal to 115 miles per hour) associated with a major land-falling hurricane (category 3 or higher). The NWS explains that using the Tornado Warning (TOR) event code caused confusion when used to warn of Hurricane Charley’s high winds in 2004. The NWS started using the EWW code during the 2007 hurricane season.

Storm Surge Watch (SSA) and Storm Surge Warning (SSW)
The NWS says the Storm Surge Watch/Warning will be issued when there is a significant risk of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the ocean. In the event of a storm surge, a watch (SSA) would be issued 48 hours in advance of the event taking place and a warning (SSW) would be issued 36 hours in advance of the event, and will help to mitigate damage from storm surge, the leading cause of death in tropical cyclones. The NWS currently does not issue explicit storm surge warnings, although the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has advocated for a storm surge watch and storm surge warning for a number of years. The NWS explains that the current hurricane watch/warning does not provide clear or sufficient information to allow citizens to determine if they are threatened by wind or storm surge or both.

The FCC seeks comments on adding these codes.

The NWS also requests that the Commission revise the areas defined in the geographic location codes identified in section 11.31(f) of the EAS rules as location codes 75 and 77, which cover offshore marine areas. These location codes, and their defined areas, like all the offshore (marine areas) location codes contained in the EAS Protocol, were originally adopted in 2002. Currently, the marine area defined for location code 75 covers “Western North Atlantic Ocean, and along U.S. East Coast, south of Currituck Beach Light, N.C., following the coastline into Gulf of Mexico to Bonita Beach, FL, including the Caribbean,” while location code 77 covers “Gulf of Mexico, and along the U.S. Gulf Coast from the Mexican border to Bonita Beach, FL.” The NWS indicates that it has changed the end point it uses for generating weather alerts for both of these areas from Bonita Beach, FL, to Ocean Reef, FL, and, accordingly, requests that the area covered by location code 75 be changed to “Western North Atlantic Ocean, and along U.S. East Coast, south of Currituck Beach Light, NC, following the coastline to Ocean Reef, FL, including the Caribbean,” and that the area covered by location code 77 be changed to “Gulf of Mexico, and along the U.S. Gulf Coast from the Mexican border to Ocean Reef, FL.”

The FCC also proposes revising footnote 1 of section 11.31 to delete the reference to a past deadline and to clarify that the numbers assigned to the offshore marine areas listed in the table of geographic areas in section 11.31(f), while consistent with the format of the state and territory location codes derived from the ANSI standard, are not a product of that standard, but rather were assigned by the NWS.

PS Docket No. 15-94

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Audible Crawls Implementation and FCC Comment Deadlines Set

On May 28, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission released the Second Accessible Emergency Information Order, which adopted additional rules under the authority of Sections 202 and 203 of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) to make emergency information in video programming accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. First, the Second Accessible Emergency Information Order requires multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) to pass through a secondary audio stream containing audible emergency information when they permit consumers to access linear programming on second-screen devices, such as tablets, smartphones, laptops, and similar devices. Second, the Second Accessible Emergency Information Order requires manufacturers of apparatus that receive or play back video programming to provide a mechanism that is simple and easy to use for activating the secondary audio stream to access audible emergency information. The Commission stated that the Second Accessible Emergency Information Order would become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The Federal Register published a summary of the Second Accessible Emergency Information Order on July 10, 2015. Accordingly, the rules adopted in the Second Accessible Emergency Information Order will take effect on August 10, 2015.

In the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted with the order, the Commission seeks comment on additional issues related to making emergency information audibly accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, including: how to prioritize aural emergency information on the secondary audio stream; whether to continue to require school closing information to be included aurally on the secondary audio stream; and whether to require MVPDs to ensure that the devices and applications they provide to subscribers include a simple and easy to use activation mechanism for accessing audible emergency information on the secondary audio stream. The Commission set deadlines for filing comments and reply comments at 30 and 60 days, respectively, after publication of the Second Further Notice in the Federal Register. The Federal Register published a summary of the Second Further Notice on July 10, 2015. Accordingly, comments must be submitted no later than Aug. 10, 2015, and reply comments must be submitted no later than Sept. 8, 2015.

Read the FCC Public Notice

MB Docket No. 12-107

Worried about broadcast related violations with the FCC? This webinar is a must –

The SBE has invited a representative of the FCC, James Roop, as well as Dennis Baldridge, a member of the SBE Technical Presenters Group, to talk about common broadcast related violations. They will categorize them into groups and discuss how to prevent them. And you have the opportunity to ask the FCC representative questions specific to your station. Subjects of the webinar include FCC enforcement actions, an analysis of the FCC’s top 10 violations, steps to an appropriate response for NOV/NAL, preventing violations and verifying compliance.

The webinar takes place on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2 p.m. ET.  More Info

FCC Releases Public Notice Detailing Fixed Receive Site Registration

Yesterday the FCC released a public notice announcing the April 1 effective date of the requirement to register 7 and 13 GHz TV Pickup stationary receive sites in ULS. The public notice also announces the grant of a fee exemption to TV Pickup licensees in the 7 and 13 GHz bands who modify their licenses between now and April 1 for the sole purpose of adding their receive sites. The public notice also provides detailed filing instructions. Here is the complete text of the Public Notice.

Worried about broadcast related violations with the FCC? This webinar is a must –

The SBE has invited a representative of the FCC, James Roop, as well as Dennis Baldridge, a member of the SBE Technical Presenters Group, to talk about common broadcast related violations. They will categorize them into groups and discuss how to prevent them. And you have the opportunity to ask the FCC representative questions specific to your station! Subjects of the webinar include FCC enforcement actions, an analysis of the FCC’s top 10 violations, steps to an appropriate response for NOV/NAL, preventing violations and verifying compliance.

The webinar takes place on Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 2 p.m. ET.  More Info

An Overview of the Incentive Auction Process from the FCC

A 12 page overview of the incentive auction process was posted by the FCC in The FCC Daily Business, on January 16, 2013. The report is an FCC staff summary. This may be of value to those members who have interest in the TV spectrum auction. Here is a link to the report

The underlying message is the potential affect on wireless microphones. The report shows three identified channels for “White Space devices,” plus whatever is left over from auctioning off 5 MHz from each 6 MHz TV channel. Note that nothing is directly mentioned of wireless microphones and where spectrum will come from to cover late breaking events. The FCC made no mention of current licensed operations in the TV bands.

Related to this, the FCC recently released a statement announcing their “LEARN” program for the Incentive Auction. Here is a link to the website.