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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
Great Plains Cable Television, Inc. ) File No. EB-02-TS-
Operator of Cable Systems in: )
Elgin, Nebraska )
Grant, Nebraska )
Request for Waiver of Section 11.11(a) of the )
Commission's Rules )
Adopted: January 8, 2004 Released: January 12,
By the Director, Office of Homeland Security, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Order, we grant the request of Great Plains
Cable Television, Inc. (``Great Plains'') to extend the
temporary, 12-month waivers of Section 11.11(a) of the
Commission's Rules (``Rules'') previously granted for the two
above-captioned cable television systems for an additional 24
months.1 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, 2002.2
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.3 In 1994, the Commission adopted rules requiring
cable systems to participate in EAS.4 In 1997, the Commission
amended the EAS rules to provide financial relief for small
cable systems.5 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).6 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.7 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
3. On May 23, 2002, Great Plains filed a request for
temporary waivers of Section 11.11(a) of the Rules for 10
small rural cable systems in the state of Nebraska. In its
waiver request, among other things, Great Plains requested
temporary, 24-month waivers for the Elgin and Grant cable
systems which served approximately 1,093 subscribers and
1,546 subscribers, respectively. In support of its waiver
request, Great Plains asserted that the estimated $10,000 cost
to install EAS equipment at each of the cable systems would
impose a substantial financial hardship on it. On October 4,
2002, we granted Great Plains temporary, 12-month waivers of
Section 11.11(a) for the Elgin and Grant cable systems.8 We
concluded that the financial data and other information
submitted by Great Plains at that time did not justify a
waiver period of longer duration for these two cable systems.
4. On September 30, 2003, Great Plains filed a request for
a temporary, 24-month extension of the temporary, 12-month
waivers granted in the Waiver Order for the Elgin and Grant
cable systems. Great Plains asserts that extension of the
waivers is appropriate because it already provides national
and local emergency messages to its Elgin and Grant
subscribers through its Safety Alert Monitoring (``SAM'')
system.9 Great Plains states that the SAM system receives
national EAS messages from EAS decoders10 installed at the
Elgin and Grant headends and receives local emergency messages
from local officials via telephone and from the National
Weather Service. Whenever an emergency message is received by
the SAM system, a set-top box at the subscriber's home, which
Great Plains provides to its subscribers free of charge,11
emits a loud alarm and provides a visual alert (a flashing red
light). Great Plains states that the SAM system is critical
in tornado-prone Nebraska because it sounds an alert even when
a subscriber's television is turned off, such as at night when
subscribers are asleep. In addition, Great Plains asserts
that extension of the waivers is warranted because its
financial hardship has continued. Great Plains estimates that
it will cost approximately $13,000 to install the video
interrupt equipment needed to bring the two systems into
compliance with Section 11.11(a) and provides updated
financial data for 2003 in support of its claim that this
expense would cause a substantial financial hardship unless
distributed over a longer period of time. Great Plains also
states that its declining customer base has increased its
financial hardship. In this regard, Great Plains notes that
over the past year it has lost nearly 3% of its subscribers on
the Elgin and Grant systems, which now serve 1,078 subscribers
and 1,494 subscribers, respectively.
5. Based on the additional financial data submitted by
Great Plains, and in view of the fact that Great Plains is
providing national and local emergency messages to its
subscribers through its SAM system, we conclude that 24-month
extensions of the temporary waivers of Section 11.11(a)
granted to Great Plains are warranted.12 We note, in this
regard, that the Commission has acknowledged the benefits of
the SAM system as an emergency alerting mechanism for the
hard-of-hearing and deaf communities.13 We believe that this
system can also provide substantial benefits in areas of the
country, such as the areas served by Great Plains, which are
prone to tornadoes and other severe weather emergencies.
6. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Sections
0.111, 0.204(b), 0.311 of the Rules,14 Great Plains Cable
Television, Inc. IS GRANTED a waiver extension of Section
11.11(a) of the Rules until October 1, 2005 for the Elgin and
Grant, Nebraska cable television systems.
7. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Great Plains Cable
Television, Inc. place a copy of this waiver extension in its
8. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Order shall
be sent by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to counsel
for Great Plains Cable Television Inc., Christopher C.
Cinnamon, Esq., Cinnamon Mueller, 307 North Michigan Avenue,
Suite 1020, Chicago, Illinois 60601.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
James A. Dailey
Director, Office of Homeland Security
1 Great Plains Cable Television, Inc., 17 FCC Rcd 19043 (Enf.
Bur., Tech. & Pub. Safety Div., 2002) (``Waiver Order'').
2 47 C.F.R. § 11.11(a).
3 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).
4 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), reconsideration granted in part,
denied in part, 10 FCC Rcd 11494 (1995) (``Report and Order'').
5 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).
6 Id. at 15512-13.
7 Id. at 15516-15518.
8 17 FCC Rcd at 19043.
9 Great Plains notes that it did not mention the SAM system in
its previous waiver request.
10 The EAS decoders installed at Great Plains's Elgin and
Grant headends are not capable of providing video interrupts.
11 Great Plains states that the set-top boxes cost it
approximately $46 each.
12 These temporary waivers will extend from October 1, 2003
until October 1, 2005. We clarify that the waivers we are
granting also encompass the EAS testing and monitoring
13 Report and Order, 10 FCC Rcd at 1807-1808 (``Cable systems
must therefore provide either audio and video EAS messages on all
channels or an equivalent alerting function on the entire system
for deaf or hard-of-hearing persons. The requirement for
equivalent messaging can be implemented using independent set-top
alerting devices which are turned on by EAS equipment at
14 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.204(b), 0.311.