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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
Amendment of Part 11 ) RM-10425
of the Commission's Rules )
(Emergency Alert System) ) File No. EB-03-TS-
Adopted: August 11, 2003 Released:
August 13, 2003
By the Chief, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Order, we dismiss as premature and without
prejudice Lawson Associates's (``Lawson'') Petition for
Rulemaking (``Petition'') filed on March 18, 2002.
Lawson proposes that we amend Part 11 of the Commission's
Rules (``Rules'') relating to the Emergency Alert System
(``EAS'').1 As noted below, Lawson's Petition comes
before us at a time that the Commission's Media Security
and Reliability Council (``MSRC'')2 is examining numerous
issues related to public warning, including the EAS.
After we receive and review MSRC's final recommendations,
we will, if appropriate, release a Notice of Inquiry that
may culminate in a rulemaking concerning public warning
and the current EAS regulatory framework.
2. Lawson, an equipment manufacturer, asks that the
Commission permit cable and wireless cable systems
serving fewer than 5,000 subscribers to fulfill their EAS
obligations by employing EAS decoders that will ``pass-
through'' full EAS audio and video bulletins by switching
all channels that do not carry those bulletins to one
that does. In response to the Public Notice issued April
23, 2002, seeking comments on the Petition, three persons
or entities, apart from Lawson, filed comments or reply
3. Among the national security-related duties the
Commission discharges are implementation and enforcement
of the EAS, which provides the President the capability
to provide immediate communications and information to
the American public at the national, state, and local
levels during periods of national emergency.4 Cable
operators, like their broadcasting
counterparts, must be capable of providing EAS messages
to their subscribers.5
4. Since the First Report and Order in 1994, at which
time the Commission moved from the Emergency Broadcast
System or EBS to the EAS, the Commission has examined and
refined cable operators's EAS obligations as technology
and other constraints have changed. The Commission is
cognizant of the issues facing small cable operators,
which it has defined, with respect to EAS obligations, as
those with 5,000 or fewer subscribers per headend.6
Consequently, the Commission authorized the grant of
waivers to small cable operators, on a case-by-case
basis, where circumstances prevent them from fully
complying with their EAS obligations.7
5. The Commission's Second Report and Order provided small
cable operators with two options for complying with their
EAS obligations by October 1, 2002: (A) Provide the
national level EAS message on all programmed
channels¾including the required testing; or (B) Install
EAS equipment and provide a video interrupt and audio
alert on all programmed channels and EAS audio and video
on at least one programmed channel.8 Lawson asks the
Commission to permit cable and wireless cable systems
serving fewer than 5,000 subscribers to fulfill their EAS
obligations (under option A) by employing EAS decoders
that will ``pass-through'' full EAS audio and video
bulletins by switching all channels that do not carry
those bulletins to one that does.
6. Following September 11, 2001, as part of its response
to the attacks on our country, the Commission established
the MSRC. On May 16, 2003, subsequent to the issuance of
the Public Notice in this proceeding, the MSRC's Public
Communications and Safety Working Group (``Working
Group'') issued an Interim Report in which, among other
things, it called for a broad assessment of public
warning systems, including the EAS.9 In June of 2003,
the MSRC adopted the Working Group's recommendations
regarding the EAS. The Working Group continues to study
public warning issues, and may make additional
recommendations which MSRC will vote on at its November
meeting. After that time, we will, if appropriate, issue
a Notice of Inquiry based, among other things, on the
recommendations. We encourage Lawson and others
interested in the vitality of the EAS to provide us with
their comments on how we can improve public warning in
general and the EAS in particular at that point.10 In
the meantime, we find it premature to engage in a
rulemaking pertaining to one subpart of the EAS.
7. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Sections
4, 303(r), 624(g), and 706 of the Communications Act of
1934, as amended,11 and Sections 0.111, 0.311 and
1.401(e) of the Rules, Lawson Associates's Petition for
Rulemaking (RM-10425) IS DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
David H. Solomon
Chief, Enforcement Bureau
1 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 11.1¾11.61.
2 The MSRC is a Federal Advisory Committee that draws its
members from industry. For more information about the MSRC,
3 Public Notice, Report No. 2544 (released Apr. 23, 2002);
Commenters included the American Cable Association (supports
Petition), BekTek, Inc. (opposes Petition), Michael Black
(opposes Petition), and Lawson (supports Petition).
4 See 47 C.F.R. § 11.1. For a history of the EAS, which
originated with the Control of Electromagnetic Radiation or
CONELRAD system of 1951 that President Truman established,
see Amendment of Part 73, Subpart G, of the Commission's
Rules Regarding the EBS, 10 FCC Rcd 1786, 1788-89 (1994)
(``First Report and Order''), recon. granted in part and
denied in part, 10 FCC Rcd 11,494 (1995).
5 See 47 U.S.C. § 544(g); 47 C.F.R. §§ 11.1¾11.61, 76.3,
76.1711; Amendment of Part 11 of the Commission's Rules
Regarding the EAS, 17 FCC Rcd 4055 (2002) (``February 2002
Report and Order''); Amendment of Part 73, Subpart G, of the
Commission's Rules Regarding the EBS, 14 FCC Rcd 1273
(1997); Amendment of Part 73, Subpart G, of the Commission's
Rules Regarding the EBS, 12 FCC Rcd 15,503 (1997) (``Second
Report and Order''); First Report and Order.
6 Second Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd at 15,507-19; February
2002 Report and Order, 17 FCC Rcd at 4056, 4082-83 (e.g.,
small cable operators permitted to fulfill their EAS
obligations by installing EAS decoders, rather than both
encoders and decoders).
7 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.204(b), 0.311; Second Report and
Order, 12 FCC Rcd at 15,513. We have been issuing term-
limited waivers. See, e.g., Pinpoint Communications, Inc.,
DA 03-2519 (Enf. Bur., released July 30, 2003).
8 See 47 C.F.R. § 11.11; Second Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd
at 15,503-04, 15,507-19.
9 MSRC, Public Communications and Safety Working Group,
Interim Report (released May 16, 2003).
10 See also May 19, 2003, Letter from Robert M. Hill,
proposing creation of a National Readiness Network.
11 47 U.S.C. §§ 154, 303(r), 544(g), 606; 47 C.F.R. §§
0.111, 0.311, 1.401(e).