Citing the recent tornado devastation in Joplin, MO and the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, the FCC is reminding TV stations, cable operators, satellite TV services and any other type of video provider to homes (such as telcos) that they are required to make emergency information available to people with hearing and vision disabilities.
This cuts both ways. The FCC reminds video providers that text, such as closed captioning, is required so people unable to hear emergency information will be able to read it. Likewise, a text crawl of emergency information must be accompanied by an aural tone that alerts the blind or visually impaired that they should turn to another source, such as radio, for vital information.
“All VPDs that air emergency information are required to make this information accessible. There are no exemptions to section 79.2 [the relevant FCC rule]. A local broadcast licensee is responsible for complying with section 79.2 regardless of the technology used to deliver its signal to consumers,” the Commission noticed
That’s worth repeating: “There are no exceptions.”
So don’t think that being a small station or under financial stress will let you off the hook.
If you don’t know if you are ready to comply with this rule when an emergency occurs in your market, click here to read the FCC Public Notice. (4-page pdf)