FCC Seeks Comment On Small Cable EAS Waiver

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The Federal Communications Commission 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 'net, 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.

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