FCC suspends its text-to-speech prohibition for new EAS rules

It doesn’t often happen, but the FCC, under a barrage of complaints, withdrew its prohibition against stations using Text-to-Speech (TTS) technology for the delivery of EAS messages under CAP provisions, which begin June 30. Even the FCC’s fellow federal behemoth, FEMA, complained about the commission’s rule preventing the use of software-generated audio for EAS.

The FCC issued an Order, dated April 19, saying, “…we are deferring action on, rather than prohibiting, the use of the ECIG Implementation Guide’s TTS specifications. Accordingly, we amend our EAS rules so that EAS Participants may, but are not required to, employ the text-to-speech functions described in the ECIG Implementation Guide.”

After two pages of milquetoast justification, the FCC’ order concludes, “With these revisions, we hereby defer consideration of the ECIG Implementation Guide’s adoption of TTS software configured in EAS equipment to generate the audio portion of an EAS message, and thus neither require nor prohibit EAS Participants from following the ECIG Implementation Guide’s specifications on use of TTS.”

It is important to note that the FCC has not withdrawn, but merely deferred, the prohibition of TTS. Don’t hook up your Siri to the EBS just yet.