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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
Northwoods Cable, Inc. ) File No. EB-02-TS-543
Operator of Cable Systems in: )
Atlanta, Michigan )
Clark, Michigan )
Drummond Island, Michigan )
Hillman, Michigan )
Jefferson Beach, Michigan )
Mullet, Michigan )
Onaway, Michigan )
Request for Waiver of Section 11.11(a) of the )
Commission's Rules )
Adopted: May 9, 2003 Released: May 15, 2003
By the Chief, Technical and Public Safety Division, Enforcement
1. In this Order, we grant Northwoods Cable, Inc.
(``Northwoods'') temporary, 36-month waivers of Section
11.11(a) of the Commission's Rules (``Rules'') for the seven
above-captioned cable television 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,
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. On September 19, 2002, Northwoods filed a request for
temporary, 36-month waivers of Section 11.11(a) for the seven
captioned cable systems. In support of its waiver request,
Northwoods states that these small, rural cable systems serve
between 10 and 960 subscribers. Based on price quotes
provided by EAS equipment vendors, Northwoods estimates that
it would cost approximately $48,230 to install EAS equipment
at these systems. Northwoods asserts that this cost will
impose a substantial financial hardship on it and provides its
financial statement for 2000 and 2001 in support of this
assertion. Further, Northwoods notes that it is currently
operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy as debtor-in-possession
under supervision of the Bankruptcy Court.9 In addition,
Northwoods submits that its subscribers will continue to have
ready access to national EAS information from other sources,
including its cable systems. Northwoods further submits that
its subscribers will have access to EAS information through
over-the-air reception of broadcast television and radio
4. Based upon our review of the financial data and other
information submitted by Northwoods, we conclude that
temporary, 36-month waivers of Section 11.11(a) for the seven
captioned systems are warranted.10 In particular, we find
that the estimated $48,230 cost of EAS equipment for these
small cable systems could impose a financial hardship on
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.11 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,13 Northwoods Cable,
Inc. IS GRANTED a waiver of Section 11.11(a) of the Rules
until October 1, 2005 for the seven captioned cable
7. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Northwoods Cable, 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 counsel
for Northwoods Cable, Inc., Robert L. James, Esq., Cole,
Raywid & Braverman, 1919 Pennsylvania Avenue, 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 On January 7, 2002, Northwoods Cable, Inc. filed a voluntary
petition under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United
States Bankruptcy Court, for the Eastern District of Michigan.
10 The waivers will extend from October 1, 2002, until October
1, 2005. Additionally, we clarify that the waivers we are
granting also encompass the EAS testing and monitoring
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.