FCC Dismisses ACA Petition to Reconsider Emergency Alert Order

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The FCC has granted the American Cable Association's withdrawal of a petition for reconsideration of the commission's mandate that cable operators be able to receive emergency alerts from FEMA in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) broadband Internet format after the small MSO organization essentially said "never mind."

ACA withdrew the April 20 petition because the FCC had set a comment period on the petition that extended to July 3, even though the mandate to be CAP-compliant was June 30. The group is looking for swift action from the FCC on waiver requests, however.

ACA pointed out in its June 11 withdrawal petition that given the deadlines, there could be no "meaningful relief" and that it was essentially moot. The FCC agreed.

The FCC had said in its order that lack of a broadband Internet connection would be considered a presumption in favor of a waiver of the requirement since it makes no sense to require equipment that can't be used, but ACA had wanted a streamlined waiver process for small cable operators with 500 or fewer subs.

ACA had not been happy with the FCC's Jan. 10, 2012, decision not to grant a blanket waiver from the CAP requirement to systems that don't have a physical Internet connection, arguing that it could force the shutdown of some of its smaller members. In its order, the FCC referred to ACA's warnings about systems going under, but said that it did not believe it should adopt any form of blanket waiver.

"ACA members are making significant efforts to meet the FCC's EAS CAP deadline," ACA president Matt Polka told Multichannel News, "and we appreciate the FCC's sensitivity to our members' unique concerns by allowing the use of intermediary devices to help bridge the compliance gap. However, many small systems will not have internet capability at their head-ends because of their remote locations, and we trust the FCC will quickly and routinely grant waivers where such legitimate circumstances exist."