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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
Oldtown Community Systems, Inc. )
) File No. EB-02-TS-437
Operator of Cable System in: )
Allegany County, Maryland )
Request for Waiver of Section 11.11(a) of the )
Commission's Rules )
Adopted: October 21, 2002 Released: October 24,
By the Chief, Technical and Public Safety Division, Enforcement
1. In this Order, we grant Oldtown Community Systems, Inc.
(``Oldtown'') a temporary, 36-month waiver of Section 11.11(a)
of the Commission's Rules (``Rules'') for the above-captioned
cable television system. 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. Oldtown filed a request for a temporary, 36-month
waiver of Section 11.11(a) for the above-captioned cable
system on August 20, 2002. In support of its waiver request,
Oldtown states that their cable system consists of a stand-
alone headend serving about 700 subscribers. Based on price
quotes provided by EAS equipment vendors, Oldtown estimates
that it would cost approximately $6,000 to purchase and
install EAS equipment at their system. Oldtown asserts that
this cost will impose a substantial financial hardship on it
and provides its financial statements for 2000 and 2001 in
support of this assertion. In addition, Oldtown submits that
its subscribers will continue to have ready access to national
EAS information from other sources, including its cable
systems. Oldtown further submits that its subscribers will
have access to EAS information through over-the-air reception
of broadcast television and other sources.
4. Based upon our review of the financial data and other
information submitted by Oldtown, we conclude that a
temporary, 36-month waiver of Section 11.11(a) for the above-
captioned system is warranted.9 In particular, we find that
the estimated $6,000 cost of EAS equipment for this small
cable system could impose a financial hardship on Oldtown.
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
6. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Sections
0.111, 0.204(b) and 0.311 of the Rules,12 Oldtown Community
Systems, Inc. IS GRANTED a waiver of Section 11.11(a) of the
Rules until October 1, 2005 for the above-captioned cable
7. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Oldtown Community Systems,
Inc. place a copy of this waiver 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 David W.
Bennett, President, P.O. Box 75, 19401 Oldtown Road, SE,
Oldtown, Maryland 21555.
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 The waivers will extend 36 months from October 1, 2002,
until October 1, 2005. Additionally, we clarify that the
waivers we are granting also encompass the EAS testing and
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.