Blind Bargains

We Interrupt this Broadcast: New Rule Requiring Audible Emergency Alerts Is Now in Effect

With little fanfare, a new FCC ruling that requires emergency information on television stations to be presented in audio form has gone into effect. As of November 30, The Audible Crawl rule requires that information such as weather alerts, disasters, widespread fires and power outages, and other large-scale emergencies be presented on the station's Second Audio Program or SAP channel, interrupting other audio such as descriptive video or Spanish language programming. The rule applies to all television markets, regardless of whether or not they are currently broadcasting descriptive audio content.

Implementation of the service seems to have flown completely under the radar for many, with recent searches finding few examples of television stations advertising the new feature. Some stations, such as South Dakota's KSFY, focused their announcement of the service entirely on how to avoid hearing the spoken messages. An article from TV News Check details some of the troubles that stations have endured in implementing the new service, namely a lack of available technology.

In addition, current television infrastructure limits the possibilities for people who wish to listen to alternate audio tracks. The text-to-speech warnings are currently set to interrupt the audio stream on the SAP channel, a possible annoyance for those who are not interested in hearing the emergency alert. This is one reason given for the current exclusion of school closings from emergency data that is required to be spoken, as it could potentially interrupt entire programs.

Also, SAP channels are routinely used for both audio description and foreign language programming, a conflict that hinders the expansion of either service. The ruling is a result of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) passed in 2010.

Thanks to Timothy Wynn for the tip.

Have you heard the new emergency alerts? What do you think?

Source: TV News Check
Category: News

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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.

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