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FCC Small Entity Compliance Guides Provide Guidance on New FCC Rules

On Sept. 16, the FCC released some “Small Entity Compliance Guides” to meet the requirements of Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 intended to help small entities comply with new FCC rules.

One of the guides covers Operation of Part 15 Auditory Assistance Devices in the 72-73 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76 MHz bands. This Small Entity Compliance Guide discusses the rule changes requiring new devices offered for sale after a three-year transition meet the stricter out of channel emission limits specified in Section 15.209 of the FCC's rules. The stricter emission levels were adopted to prevent auditory assistance devices operating in this band between TV channels 4 and 5 from interfering with TV reception on these and other TV channels. The Guide provides a good overview of the transition period, what will happen to existing devices (they are grandfathered), and concludes with the relevant text of Section 15.209.

The Small Entity Compliance Guide on Accessible Emergency Information, and Apparatus Requirements for Emergency Information and Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 will be of interest to more broadcasters. The guide covers in detail the obligations of video programming distributors and providers under the CVAA.

Among the requirements, TV broadcasters will have to convey any emergency information displayed as a visual crawl on a second audio channel and repeat the information at least twice. It does not have to be a verbatim translation of the text but “must accurately and effectively communicate the critical details about the emergency and how to respond to it to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.” If the second audio channel is used for video description, foreign language translation, or duplication of the main program audio, the emergency information must supersede it or any other content on the channel.

The Guide provides details on what types of information TV broadcasters must provide over the second audio channel and what manufacturers of TV devices must do to comply with the CVAA with respect to these announcements.

Covered entities must provide an aural presentation of visual emergency information on a secondary audio stream by May 26, 2015.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.