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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
Pine Bluffs Community Television System ) File No. EB-02-TS-
Operator of Cable Systems in: )
Pine Bluffs, Wyoming )
Guernsey and Hartville, Wyoming )
Fort Laramie, Wyoming )
Request for Waiver of Section 11.11(a) of the )
Commission's Rules )
Adopted: May 29, 2002 Released: May 31, 2002
By the Chief, Technical and Public Safety Division, Enforcement
1. In this Order, we grant Pine Bluffs Community
Television System (``Pine Bluffs'') temporary, 36-month
waivers for the three above-captioned cable television systems
of Section 11.11(a) of the Commission's Rules (``Rules'').
Section 11.11(a) requires cable systems serving fewer than
5,000 subscribers from a headend to either provide national
level Emergency Alert System (``EAS'') messages on all
programmed channels or install EAS equipment and provide a
video interrupt and audio alert on all programmed channels and
EAS audio and video messages on at least one programmed
channel by October 1, 2002.1
2. The Cable Act of 1992 added new Section 624(g) to the
Communications Act of 1934 (``Act''), which requires that
cable systems be capable of providing EAS alerts to their
subscribers.2 In 1994, the Commission adopted rules requiring
cable systems to participate in EAS.3 In 1997, the Commission
amended the EAS rules to provide financial relief for small
cable systems.4 The Commission declined to exempt small cable
systems from the EAS requirements, concluding that such an
exemption would be inconsistent with the statutory mandate of
Section 624(g).5 However, the Commission extended the
deadline for cable systems serving fewer than 10,000
subscribers to begin complying with the EAS rules to October
1, 2002, and provided cable systems serving fewer than 5,000
subscribers the option of either providing national level EAS
messages on all programmed channels or installing EAS
equipment and providing a video interrupt and audio alert on
all programmed channels and EAS audio and video messages on at
least one programmed channel.6 In addition, the Commission
stated that it would grant waivers of the EAS rules to small
cable systems on a case-by-case basis upon a showing of
financial hardship.7 The Commission indicated that waiver
requests must contain at least the following information: (1)
justification for the waiver, with reference to the particular
rule sections for which a waiver is sought; (2) information
about the financial status of the requesting entity, such as a
balance sheet and income statement for the two previous years
(audited, if possible); (3) the number of other entities that
serve the requesting entity's coverage area and that have or
are expected to install EAS equipment; and (4) the likelihood
(such as proximity or frequency) of hazardous risks to the
requesting entity's audience.8
3. Pine Bluffs filed a request for permanent waiver of
Section 11.11(a) on January 4, 2002. In support of its waiver
request, Pine Bluffs states that the system serving Pine
Bluffs has only 347 subscribers, the system serving Guernsey
and Hartsville has only 293 subscribers, and the system
serving Fort Laramie has only 37 subscribers. Based on a
price quote provided by an EAS equipment manufacturer, Pine
Bluffs estimates that it would cost approximately $9,290 to
install EAS equipment at each of these systems for a total
cost of $27,870. Pine Bluffs asserts that this cost will
impose a significant negative impact on it and provides its
balance sheets and income statements for 1999 and 2000 in
support of this assertion. In addition, Pine Bluffs submits
that its subscribers are well served by other sources of
emergency information. Pine Bluffs states that
Guernsey/Hartsville and Laramie are served by five television
stations and three radio stations, which are required to
install EAS equipment, and there is a siren for alerting
residents of these communities to emergencies. Pine Bluffs
states that the community of Pine Bluffs is served by five
television stations and five radio stations and also has a
siren for alerting residents to emergencies. Finally, Pine
Bluffs asserts that the likelihood of hazardous risks to its
audience is minimal. In this regard, it notes that the three
systems are located in the southeastern portion of Wyoming,
which is not in the tornado belt and is not subject to
earthquakes and hurricanes.
4. We decline to grant Pine Bluffs a permanent waiver of
Section 11.11(a). The Commission provided cable systems with
fewer than 10,000 subscribers a five-year extension of the
deadline to comply with the EAS rules. Thus, small cable
systems have already had five years to budget for EAS
equipment. We also conclude that the financial information
submitted by Pine Bluffs does not justify a permanent waiver
of Section 11.11(a).9
5. However, based upon our review of the financial data
and other information submitted by Pine Bluffs, we conclude
that temporary, 36-month waivers of Section 11.11(a) for these
three systems is warranted.10 In particular, we find that the
estimated $27,870 cost of EAS equipment for these three very
small cable systems could impose a financial hardship on Pine
Bluffs in the short term.
6. We note that the Commission recently amended the EAS
rules to permit cable systems serving fewer than 5,000
subscribers to install FCC-certified decoder-only units,
rather than both encoders and decoders, if such a device
becomes available.11 Based on comments from equipment
manufacturers, we anticipate that such a decoder-only system
could result in significant cost savings to small cable
7. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Sections
0.111, 0.204(b) and 0.311 of the Rules,13 Pine Bluffs
Community Television System IS GRANTED a waiver of Section
11.11(a) of the Rules until October 1, 2005 for the three
captioned cable systems.
8. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Pine Bluffs Community
Television System place a copy of this waiver in its system
9. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Order shall
be sent by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to counsel
for Pine Bluffs Community Television Systems, Howard J. Barr,
Esq., Pepper & Corazzini, L.L.P., 1776 K Street, N.W., Suite
200, Washington, D.C. 20006.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Joseph P. Casey
Chief, Technical and Public Safety
1 47 C.F.R. § 11.11(a).
2 Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of
1992, Pub. L. No. 102-385, § 16(b), 106 Stat. 1460, 1490 (1992).
Section 624(g) provides that ``each cable operator shall comply
with such standards as the Commission shall prescribe to ensure
that viewers of video programming on cable systems are afforded
the same emergency information as is afforded by the emergency
broadcasting system pursuant to Commission regulations ....'' 47
U.S.C. § 544(g).
3 Amendment of Part 73, Subpart G, of the Commission's Rules
Regarding the Emergency Broadcast System, Report and Order and
Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, FO Docket Nos. 91-171/91-
301, 10 FCC Rcd 1786 (1994) (``First Report and Order''),
reconsideration granted in part, denied in part, 10 FCC Rcd 11494
4 Amendment of Part 73, Subpart G, of the Commission's Rules
Regarding the Emergency Broadcast System, Second Report and
Order, FO Docket Nos. 91-171/91-301, 12 FCC Rcd 15503 (1997)
(``Second Report and Order'').
5 Id. at 15512-13.
6 Id. at 15516-15518.
7 Id. at 15513.
8 Id. at 15513, n. 59.
9 It is consistent with Commission precedent to consider the
financial condition of an entity's consolidated operations,
rather than a limited portion of its operations, in evaluating an
entity's financial hardship claim. See KASA Radio Hogar, Inc.,
FCC 02-93 (released March 27, 2002); Hinton Telephone Company of
Hinton, Oklahoma, 7 FCC Rcd 6643, 6644 (CCB 1992), review denied,
8 FCC Rcd 5176 (1993).
10 The waiver will extend 36 months from October 1, 2002,
until October 1, 2005.
11 Amendment of Part 11 of the Commission's Rules Regarding
the Emergency Alert System, EB Docket 01-66, FCC 02-64 at ¶ 71
(released February 26, 2002).
12 One manufacturer estimated that an EAS decoder-only system
can reduce the cost by 64% over what a cable operator would spend
for an encoder/decoder unit. Id. at ¶ 70.
13 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.204(b) and 0.311.