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Your Tax Dollars, Hard at Work!

6/25/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

AS A GENERAL RULE, I AVOID THE TECH regulatory
scene, because it gets
so bogged down with gibberish
that typically boils down to the
words, “No, you cannot.” Yet a
passel of deadlines are looming,
and that seemed a good time for
a summer regulatory roundup. In
deadline order:

Emergency Alert System and
“CAP.”
Regulators: FEMA, FCC,
National Weather Service, U.S. Department of
Homeland Security. Deadline: June 30. What It
Is: Here in Colorado, we’re already getting the
afternoon tornado warnings, which turn the TV
into a bleeping black screen, with white text advising
us to take immediate shelter and accompanying
audio saying the same thing. EAS and
the common alerting protocol (CAP) extends
that type of work nationally, so that the President
could theoretically interrupt TV programming
to tell us something really important. At an
MSO level, the work of it is software changes to
the gear that currently handles local EAS.

Video Descriptive Services. Regulator: FCC.
Deadline: July 1. What It Is: This has lots to do
with a little button on your TV remote labeled
“SAP,” for “Secondary Audio Program.” Right
now, pushing that button invokes a monaural
mix-down of the soundtrack, with Spanishlanguage
audio.

With VDS, however, pressing SAP would
also mix the audio channel down to monaural,
but instead of Spanish, you’d hear the original
feed, plus a verbal description of what’s going
on visually. Not so much, “Suddenly, the phone
rang,” because the viewer could hear it ringing.
More like, “She put the phone to her ear
anxiously.” The onus of this effort is more on
program networks than MSOs.

Closed Captioning for IP Video. Regulator:
FCC. Deadline: Sept. 30. for program networks;
Jan. 14, 2013 for device manufacturers (which,
in and of itself, is an inscrutable bifurcation).
What It Is: Rules that require program networks
to put closed captions on full-length video content
that’s made available via Internet protocol
(think HBO Go, Xfinity, etc.)

This one is riddled with complexities that
will make you want to poke your own eyes
out. The Report and Order details “VPOs”
(video-programming owners); “VPPs” (videoprogramming
providers); and 112 deliriously
entertaining (not!) pages of accompanying
regulatory-speak. Stretch and hydrate before
you dive in.

Commercial Audio Loudness Mitigation Act
(CALM).
Regulator: FCC. Deadline: Dec. 13.
What It Is: A way to not get blasted out of your
chair when commercials play at way higher volumes
than programs. By year-end, MSOs need
to begin periodic testing of networks that don’t
“self-certify” that they’re CALM-compliant. Big
hallelujah on this one.


Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at
translation-please.com or multichannel.com/blog.
September