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                           Before the
                Federal Communications Commission
                     Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of                )
                                )
NEPSK, Inc. d/b/a Houlton Cable TV   )  File No. EB-02-TS-213
                                )
Operator of Cable Systems in:   )
                                )    
Howland, Maine                  )
Danforth, Maine                 )
Island Falls, Maine             )
Medway, Maine                   )
Monticello, Maine               )
Oakfield, Maine                 )
Patten, Maine                   )
                                )
Request for Waiver of Section 11.11(a) of the     )    
Commission's Rules              )    
                                        
                              ORDER 

Adopted:   September 27, 2002           Released:    October   4, 
2002

By the Chief, Technical  and Public Safety Division,  Enforcement 
Bureau:

1.        In this Order, we grant NEPSK Inc. d/b/a Houlton  Cable 
  TV (``Houlton  Cable'') temporary waivers  of Section  11.11(a) 
  of  the Commission's  Rules (``Rules'')  for  the each  of  the 
  seven above-captioned cable television systems.   Specifically, 
  we grant a  temporary, 24-month waiver of Section 11.11(a)  for 
  the  Howland, Maine  cable  system and  a  temporary,  36-month 
  waiver  of Section  11.11(a) for  the Danforth,  Maine;  Island 
  Falls,  Maine;  Medway,  Maine;  Monticello,  Maine;  Oakfield, 
  Maine;  and  Patten, Maine  cable  systems.   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.        Houlton Cable filed a request for a temporary, 24-month 
  waiver and  a temporary,  36-month waiver  of Section  11.11(a) 
  for the  seven captioned  cable systems  on May  24, 2002.   In 
  support of its waiver request, Houlton Cable states that  these 
  are small,  rural cable  systems which  together serve  between 
  122 and 657 subscribers, with six of the cable systems  serving 
  less than 300  subscribers.  Based on price quotes provided  by 
  EAS equipment  manufacturers, Houlton Cable  estimates that  it 
  would  cost  between   $52,000  and  $68,000  to  install   EAS 
  equipment at  the seven  systems.  Houlton  Cable asserts  that 
  the  cost of  installing EAS  equipment at  these systems  will 
  impose  a substantial  financial hardship  on it  and  provides 
  financial  statements for  2000 and  2001  in support  of  this 
  assertion.   In  addition,  Houlton  Cable  submits  that   its 
  subscribers will continue to have ready access to national  EAS 
  information from  other sources, including  its cable  systems.  
  In  this  regard, Houlton  Cable  notes  that  its  subscribers 
  currently have access to  national EAS messages on at least  39 
  percent  of  all  programmed  channels.   Houlton  Cable   also 
  asserts  that   its  subscribers  will   have  access  to   EAS 
  information   through  over-the-air   reception  of   broadcast 
  television and radio stations and other sources.

4.        Based upon our review of  the financial data and  other 
  information  submitted by  Houlton Cable,  we conclude  that  a 
  temporary,  24-month  waiver   of  Section  11.11(a)  for   the 
  Howland,  Maine  system  and a  temporary, 36-month  waiver  of 
  Section  11.11(a)  for  the  Danforth,  Island  Falls,  Medway, 
  Monticello, Oakfield and Patten, Maine systems are  warranted.9  
  In  particular, we  find that  the  estimated cost  of  between 
  $52,000  and $68,000  of EAS  equipment for  these small  cable 
  systems could impose a financial hardship on Houlton Cable.  

5.        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.10    Based  on   comments  from   equipment 
  manufacturers, we  anticipate that such  a decoder-only  system 
  could  result  in  significant  cost  savings  to  small  cable 
  systems.11  

6.        Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED  that, pursuant to  Sections 
  0.111, 0.204(b)  and 0.311  of the Rules,12  NEPSK, Inc.  d/b/a 
  Houlton Cable  TV IS GRANTED  a waiver of  Section 11.11(a)  of 
  the Rules  until October 1, 2004  for the Howland, Maine  cable 
  television system and  IS GRANTED a waiver of Section  11.11(a) 
  of the  Rules until October  1, 2005 for  the Danforth,  Island 
  Falls,  Medway, Monticello,  Oakfield and  Patten, Maine  cable 
  television systems.

7.        IT IS FURTHER  ORDERED that NEPSK,  Inc. d/b/a  Houlton 
  Cable TV place a copy of these waivers in its system files.

8.        IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that  a copy of this Order  shall 
  be sent by  Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to  counsel 
  for  NEPSK,  Inc.  d/b/a  Houlton  Cable  TV,  Christopher   C. 
  Cinnamon, Esq.,  Cinnamon Mueller, 307  North Michigan  Avenue, 
  Suite 1020, Chicago, Illinois 60601.

                         FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
                         


                         Joseph P. Casey
                         Chief, Technical and Public Safety 
Division
                         Enforcement Bureau


_________________________

  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 
(1995).

  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 The  24-month waiver will  extend 24 months  from October  1, 
2002, until October 1, 2004  and the 36-month waiver will  extend 
from October 1, 2002, until October 1, 2005.  We clarify that the 
waivers we  are  granting  also encompass  the  EAS  testing  and 
monitoring requirements.  

  10 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).

  11 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.

  12 47 C.F.R.  0.111, 0.204(b) and 0.311.