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

In the Matter of                )
                                )
Western Dakota Cable, Inc.     )     File No. EB-02-TS-562
                                )
Operator of Cable Systems in:   )
                                )    
Carson, North Dakota            )
Elgin, North Dakota             )
New Leipzig, North Dakota       )
                                )
Request for Waiver of Section 11.11(a) of the     )    
Commission's Rules              )    
                                        
                              ORDER 

Adopted:  February 25, 2003             Released:  March 3, 2003

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

1.        In this  Order, we  grant  Western Dakota  Cable,  Inc. 
  (``Western  Dakota'') temporary,  36-month waivers  of  Section 
  11.11(a) of  the Commission's Rules  (``Rules'') for the  three 
  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, 
  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.        Western Dakota filed a request for permanent waivers of 
  Section  11.11(a) for  the  three captioned  cable  systems  on 
  September 26, 2002.  In support of its waiver request,  Western 
  Dakota states that these small, rural cable systems,  together, 
  serve approximately 321 subscribers.  Western Dakota    asserts 
  that  the cost  to install  EAS equipment  at the  three  cable 
  systems will impose a substantial financial hardship on it  and 
  provides its  financial data for  2000 and 2001  in support  of 
  this assertion.  Western Dakota indicates that its  subscribers 
  will continue to have ready access to national EAS  information 
  from  other  sources, including  its  cable  systems.   Western 
  Dakota further indicates that its subscribers will have  access 
  to EAS information through over-the-air reception of  broadcast 
  television and radio stations.  

4.        Based upon our review of  the financial data and  other 
  information  submitted  by Western  Dakota,  we  conclude  that 
  temporary,  36-month  waivers  of  Section  11.11(a)  for   the 
  captioned  cable systems  are  warranted.9  In  particular,  we 
  find  that the  cost of  EAS equipment  for these  small  cable 
  systems could impose a financial hardship on Western Dakota. 

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  Western  Dakota 
  Cable, Inc.  IS GRANTED  a waiver  of Section  11.11(a) of  the 
  Rules  until October  1, 2005  for  the three  captioned  cable 
  television systems.

7.        IT IS FURTHER ORDERED  that Western Dakota 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 Patsy  A. 
  Kochel, Secretary-Treasurer,  Western Dakota  Cable, Inc.,  311 
  Montana Street N., Box 58, Elgin, North Dakota 58533.

                         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 waivers 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.