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Cable Association Withdraws EAS Petition

Says comment period too late to provide relief

We’ll never know whether the FCC would have granted small cable operators that don’t have wired broadband access a blanket waiver from the June 30 deadline to have CAP-EAS compliant gear installed and operational.

That’s because the American Cable Association has withdrawn its petition for reconsideration in which it had asked for a one-year waiver for cable systems serving less than 501 subscribers.

In order to get the new alert messages, stations must connect to the FEMA IPAWS web aggregator. Cable operators and stations, too, have been asking what the procedure is for those that do not have a broadband connection.

The commission had said in its 5th R&O on EAS that the main method of distributing CAP-EAS messages will be via broadband and had presumed a six-month waiver would be enough for radio, TV or cable operators. Broadband Internet access may become available in an area after a waiver is granted and alternative means of distributing CAP-EAS alerts, like satellite delivery, may become available, too, reasoned the agency. 

The FCC had opened a comment period on the petition earlier this month, and specifically asked for input on whether granting a waiver should depend on whether a station had a wired or wireless Internet connection.

Oppositions to the petition were to be due June 25 and replies on July 3.

Since that extended past the June 30 deadline, ACA withdrew its petition, telling the commission any decision cannot now provide “meaningful relief” to its members and the group thinks the point is now moot.

The FCC agreed; the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau dismissed the petition and cancelled the comment cycle in EB Docket 04-296.