Small Cable Ops Get EAS Extension


The FCC has given some small cable operators an extra six months to install emergancy alert systems (EAS).

The FCC decided Friday to allow operators who had already received waivers through Oct. 1, 2005 until March 1, 2006, to install the systems.

Cable has been required to deliver EAS warnings since 1994, but recognizing that could impose a financial hardship on smaller operators, it gave them until Oct. 1, 2002. Then, it allowed for waivers on a case-by-case basis and granted waivers of up to 36 months (or Oct. 1, 2005) to 200 systems.

The FCC said Friday that since it has an open proceeding on changes to EAS, the regulatory uncertainty is such that a short extension is warranted while the resolution of the proceeding is still pending.

That would suggest that a decision on EAS changes will come before March 2006.

There is certainly pressure on the FCC from Congress, in the wakes of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, to speed proceedings on emergency warnings. Ironically, neither the Bush administration nor local officials triggered the EAS warning during Katrina, according to an FCC Homeland Security official.