EAS Text To Speech Must be Allowed – NOW!

February 25, 2012

We found out in the FCC’s Part 11 Fifth Report and Order that Text-To-Speech (TTS) EAS messaging will not be allowed at this time saying in so many words that the technology is not ready yet. The Broadcast Warning Working Group disagrees. Here’s why. Washington State has already implemented TTS, and it works!

Marlin Jackson with the KXLY Broadcast Group in Spokane, Washington recently posted proof that TTS does work, works well, and significantly improves the value of EAS warnings for all audiences, including those with visual and hearing impairments.

He said, “For the first time KXLY DT crawled the actual message rather than just the header information.  It did crawl the header first then added the following:

This is a test, only a test of the emergency alert system in Washington State. If this had been a real emergency you would have been instructed what to do. The following tones will conclude this test from Washington State E O C.

KXLY connects its CAP EAS device to two Harris character generators. One is for the HD main channel and the other for the SD second channel.

The scrolled message seen on screen for the KXLY Main and HD channels was identical to the audio on their audio channels.”

As Marlin put it, “The hearing impaired can now see what the message really is rather than just that there is an alert. We have a very active hearing impaired group in our area. (Spokane, WA) They are also an active and important part of our LECC.”

The Broadcast Warning Working Group believes the FCC should reconsider their current TTS ban. The benefits of TTS should not be withheld from the visually and hearing impaired communities, much less the general public. Relying on “canned” EAS scrolled messages generated by legacy EAS codes must come to an end as quickly as possible. We strongly support the efforts of the Washington State SECC and other EAS stakeholders to ask the FCC to reconsider and allow properly implemented and managed EAS TTS – NOW!

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