The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has clarified and amended its rules governing the transmission of travel-related information over low-power radio transmitters.
So-called travelers’ information stations (TISs) are licensed by the FCC to transmit noncommercial, travel-related information to motorists on a localized basis. TISs are routinely used to broadcast road conditions and hazards, travel restrictions and weather forecasts to motorists to help reduce traffic congestion. In some cases, TISs are also used to communicate emergency messages that could affect the immediate safety and welfare of travelers.
In addition to compliance with operating power limits, TIS operators are also restricted from transmitting commercial messages that might compete with local commercial broadcasters. However, according to the Commission, some TIS operators have taken unilateral action to expand the scope of their content and operations without FCC permission, while others have attempted to remove restrictions through rule waiver requests.
In a Report and Order issued in July 2013, the Commission restated the limits of content to be broadcast by TISs to that which has “a nexus to travel, an emergency, or an imminent threat of danger.” However, the Commission also authorized changes which “modestly expand” TIS operating parameters, including the use of multiple simulcast transmitters that can potentially reduce operating costs.
The Commission has also requested comment on a proposal to remove the requirement for filtering TIS audio frequencies above 3 kHz. The Commission notes that the filtering requirement does little to improve interference protection of commercial broadcasters but significantly decreases the audibility of TIS broadcasts.