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

In the Matter of                   )
Amendment of Part 11 of the Commission's Rules    )    EB 
Docket No. 04-51
Regarding the Emergency Alert System         )    RM 10619


Adopted:  March 4, 2004                 Released:  March 12, 

Comment Date:  30 days after Federal Register publication of 
this Notice
Reply Comment Date:  45 days after Federal Register 
publication of this Notice 

By the Commission:


     1.   In this  Notice of Proposed Rulemaking  (NPRM), we 
propose to  adopt revisions to  the Part 11  rules governing 
the Emergency  Alert System (EAS)1 that  will allow wireless 
cable  television systems  to  provide EAS  alerts to  their 
subscribers in a more  efficient and less burdensome manner.  
This proposal, set forth in  a petition for rulemaking filed 
by  the  Wireless   Cable  Association  International,  Inc. 
(WCA),2  requests changes  to  our rules  to allow  wireless 
cable   system  operators   to  ``force   tune''  subscriber 
equipment to  a system channel  dedicated to EAS  alerts and 
messages in  lieu of providing  an EAS decoder for  each and 
every system channel.3


     2.   In  1997, the  Commission adopted  rules requiring 
cable system operators to carry  EAS messages on all program 
channels of a cable system.  By  that same action and at the 
request  of  WCA,  the Commission  included  wireless  cable 
systems  in this  requirement.4  The  EAS affords  national, 
state  and  local  authorities  the  capability  to  provide 
emergency  communications  and  information to  the  general 
public via  broadcast stations,  cable systems  and wireless 
cable  systems.  Participation  in  national  EAS alerts  is 
mandatory for broadcast stations, cable systems and wireless 
cable  systems.5  These  entities participate  in state  and 
local area  EAS plans on  a voluntary basis.   Cable systems 
with 10,000 or more subscribers were required to install EAS 
equipment by  December 31,  1998.  Cable systems  with fewer 
than  10,000 subscribers  and  wireless  cable systems  were 
required to install  EAS equipment by October  1, 2002.  The 
Enforcement   Bureau,  in   response  to   waiver  requests, 
temporarily  waived this  deadline  for qualifying  wireless 
cable systems pending the outcome of this proceeding.6 

     3.   WCA filed  its petition for rulemaking  on October 
31,  2002.   The Commission  staff  issued  a public  notice 
announcing  the filing  of  WCA's petition  on December  18, 
2002.7  Comments were filed by the WCA and separately by REC 
Networks (``REC'').  The  WCA comments provide clarification 
of its original proposal.  The  REC comments endorse the WCA 
proposal  without  making  any new  requests  or  suggesting 
modification of the WCA proposal.  WCA requests that digital 
wireless  cable systems,  upon receipt  of an  EAS alert  or 
message,  be allowed  to  use ``force  tune'' technology  to 
switch subscribers from any programmed channel to a specific 
system channel that will carry EAS messages.  WCA represents 
that  modification  of  the  rules  to  allow  use  of  this 
technology  will provide  EAS notices  to subscribers  while 
relieving system operators of substantial financial burdens.

     4.   Our  EAS   rules  are  designed  to   ensure  that 
individual TV  viewers, including viewers of  wireless cable 
TV systems, receive  all EAS alerts, no  matter what channel 
the viewer  may be watching.   As these rules  are currently 
written, wireless  cable providers  serving more  than 5,000 
subscribers  are  required   to  install  special  equipment 
sufficient to  display the  audio and  video EAS  message on 
every channel in their systems.8  Systems serving fewer than 
5,000  subscribers are  required  to display  the audio  and 
video EAS  message only on  one channel, but must  provide a 
video interrupt and an audio alert on every channel.9  Under 
the WCA  proposal, a  wireless cable operator  would install 
EAS equipment  for one  channel only at  the headend  of the 
system.   In the  event of  an EAS  alert, the  system would 
automatically force  each subscriber set-top box  to tune to 
the channel carrying the EAS alert.  WCA argues that ``force 
tuning'' would allow wireless cable providers to deliver EAS 
alerts  to  all  viewers   in  a  more  technologically  and 
economically  efficient  manner.    As  proposed,  the  rule 
revision  would provide  the  greatest  economic benefit  to 
systems with  over 5,000  subscribers by obviating  the need 
for  special signal  conversion for  all channels,  but also 
would provide  a benefit  to those  systems with  fewer than 
5,000 subscribers.

     5.   According  to WCA,  the  financial  impact of  our 
current  rules is  unnecessarily burdensome.   EAS equipment 
provides  outputs  designed  to   be  inserted  into  analog 
signals.   For digital  wireless cable  systems the  digital 
channels are  received via  a multiplexed digital  feed.  To 
insert   EAS   information   into  each   channel   requires 
specialized  equipment to  separate the  digital feeds  into 
individual program  streams, convert each program  stream to 
analog format, insert the  EAS video/audio into each program 
stream, re-encode the program  stream to digital format, and 
recombine  all of  the  streams into  multiplexed feeds  for 
further  transmission to  subscribers.   For  a 128  channel 
digital  system,  WCA  represents  that  a  reasonable  cost 
estimate  for  this  process is  $1,848,250.00.   Under  the 
proposed  software   based  ``force  tune''   solution,  the 
video/audio output of the EAS equipment will be connected to 
an encoder  for a  channel selected  to carry  EAS messages.  
Upon EAS activation,  the EAS equipment will  send a trigger 
signal to the system headend which then forwards the trigger 
to the subscriber's set-top box  as part of the control data 
included in every multiplexed  program stream transmitted by 
the system.  The software in  the set-top box will recognize 
the  trigger  and ``force  tune''  the  set-top box  to  the 
selected  EAS  message  channel.    WCA  represents  that  a 
reasonable cost estimate for  this alternative is $46,000.00 
or   about  2%   of   the  cost   of   channel  by   channel 

     6.   We  propose  to  revise  our rules  to  allow  all 
wireless  cable television  systems to  comply with  our EAS 
requirements by installing only one  set of EAS equipment at 
the  headend  of their  systems.   Under  our proposed  rule 
revisions, these wireless cable television providers will be 
able to ``force tune'' all  channels in their systems to the 
channel  carrying an  EAS alert.   We seek  comment on  this 
proposal.   Our proposal  responds to  the WCA  petition for 
small wireless  cable systems, which currently  are required 
to display audio and video  EAS messages on one channel, and 
video interrupt and  audio alert on all  other channels.  We 
seek comment on how our proposal would affect these systems.  
We also  propose to expand  WCA's proposal to  allow ``force 
tuning'' for systems with more than 5,000 subscribers, which 
currently are required to place  EAS messages on all program 
channels.   We solicit  comment on  whether we  should adopt 
``force tuning'' for all  wireless cable systems, or whether 
``force tuning'' should  be limited to systems  of a certain 
size and,  if so, what  size would be appropriate.   We seek 
comment  on  the  pros  and cons  of  ``force  tuning,''  as 
proposed by WCA and this  NPRM, and whether there is another 
approach which  is a better alternative,  technically and/or 
financially, than  the one  proposed, or  whether compliance 
with the  current requirements is most  appropriate.  We are 
requesting  information  from   system  operators,  industry 
associations, equipment  suppliers and all  other interested 

     7.   We   also  note   that  the   Commission  requires 
certification  of  EAS  equipment  in  accordance  with  the 
procedures  set  forth  in  Subpart  J  of  Part  2  of  the 
Commission's Rules.10   It appears that the  WCA proposal is 
software driven,  that it requires  the use of  approved EAS 
equipment at  the headend, and  that no changes  to approved 
equipment are required.  For these reasons we do not propose 
new authorization standards for  equipment used to implement 
the proposed  ``force tune'' procedure.  Rather,  we propose 
to require that the operators  of systems using this ``force 
tune''  technology develop  procedures  to  ensure that  the 
process works and that subscriber equipment, such as set-top 
boxes, does, in fact, tune  to the EAS alert/message channel 
when instructed to do so  by the headend equipment.  We seek 
comment  on  our  proposal  not  to  require  new  equipment 
authorization.   We  also   request  recommendations  as  to 
procedures  to  be  followed  by operators  to  ensure  that 
required EAS notices are delivered to subscribers.  Finally, 
we invite comment  on what effects the  proposals and issues 
addressed in this NPRM may have on consumer equipment. 


     8.   In this NPRM, we propose to adopt the revisions to 
the EAS rules requested in the petition for rulemaking filed 
by WCA.  We seek comment on  all of the issues and proposals 
addressed in this NPRM and encourage full participation from 
cable   operators,  wireless   cable  operators,   equipment 
manufacturers,   state   and  local   emergency   management 
personnel, and other interested parties.  


     9.   Comments and Reply Comments.  Pursuant to sections 
1.415  and  1.419  of  the  Commission's  Rules,  interested 
parties  may  file  comments  on or  before  30  days  after 
publication  of this  Notice  in the  Federal Register,  and 
reply comments  on or  before 45  days after  publication of 
this Notice in the  Federal Register.11  All comments should 
refer to EB  Docket No. 04-51.  Comments may  be filed using 
the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (``ECFS'') 
or by filing paper  copies.12  For additional information on 
this proceeding,  please contact the FCC  Office of Homeland 
Security at (202) 418-1199.

     10.  Comments  filed through  ECFS  can be  sent as  an 
electronic  file via  the Internet  to
file/ecfs.html.  Generally,  only one copy of  an electronic 
submission  must be  filed.  In  completing the  transmittal 
screen, commenters  should include  their full  name, postal 
service mailing  address, and the applicable  docket number, 
which in this instance is  EB Docket No. 04-51.  Parties may 
also submit  an electronic  comment by Internet  e-mail.  To 
obtain filing  instructions for e-mail  comments, commenters 
should  send  an  e-mail  to,  and  should 
include  the following  words in  the body  of the  message, 
``get  form