FCC Seeks Comment on Small Cable EAS Waiver

FCC has asked for comment on whether to grant smaller cable operators an
expedited waiver process for carve-outs from the burdens of compliance with its
requirements for conversion of emergency alerts, including that it will need
Internet connectivity. The Commission concluded that lack of that connectivity
would provide a presumption of waiver-worthiness.

The FCC is assuming that in the future, most
alerts will be delivered via a broadband Internet connection.

The American Cable Association back in April
told the commission that the waiver process itself was a burden, and sought a
streamlined process for systems with 500 or fewer subs.

The FCC has given interested parties 15 days
from publication of the request for comment in the Federal Register, which is
usually a week to two weeks after the release date, in this case May 25.
Replies are due 10 days later.

ACA wants waivers of at least a year, with
opportunity for renewals, or until the operator gets broadband Internet service
to the head end.

The FCC wants input on, among other things,
whether presumption for a waiver should be based on lack of access to a
physical connection to the Internet, or whether a wireless connection could provide
sufficient bandwidth. It also wants to know what should qualify for financial
hardship. ACA says it should be compliance costs that require special construction
or line extension fees in excess of a normal installation drop fee.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.