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FCC Moves EAS Compliance Deadline

The FCC has extended to June 30, 2012, the deadline for cable operators, broadcasters and others to comply with the new Emergency Alert System's (EAS) Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) for receiving those alerts. That came Friday after almost everybody said they needed more time to test and implement the system and even FEMA did not object.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association and Verizon were on the same page, as was the National Association of Broadcasters and their opponent on the media ownership issue, Prometheus Radio.

The FCC had previously waived the March 29, 2011 deadline after industry said it would have been difficult to get the appropriate equipment to receive the alerts.

NAB had argued that the time for testing was necessary so they did not buy expensive equipment to meet the deadline only to find it did not comply. NCTA said while its operators were working toward CAP compliance, they would be in the midst of a ramp-up of a separate emergency alert test in November (which the FCC has scheduled), and that they were not yet sure whether the alerts were going to be distributed to cable operators via the Internet.

The American Cable Association, had argued that "failure to grant additional time will result in an unnecessarily rushed, expensive and likely incomplete process that will fail to achieve the objectives of the program." It also asked for a 12-month extension on the eventual deadline for smaller operators -- 1.5 million subs or fewer -- and a blanket exemption for those with fewer than 500 subs.

"We agree with the majority of commenters that an extension of the current CAP compliance deadline is warranted," the FCC concluded.

"On behalf of all ACA members, I want to applaud the Federal Communications Commission for postponing until June 30, 2012 the deadline for cable operator compliance with the Emergency Alert System's (EAS) new Common Alert Protocol (CAP) technology, which should provide a window of time for EAS participants to be certain that the actions they take will indeed comply with final CAP requirements," said ACA President Matt Polka.

The FCC did not address ACA's waiver requests in the order, released Friday.