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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
Northland Communications, Inc. ) File No. EB-02-TS-277
Operator of Cable Systems in: )
Meservey, Iowa )
Thornton, Iowa )
Request for Waiver of Section 11.11(a) of the )
Commission's Rules )
Adopted: October 1, 2002 Released: October 7,
By the Chief, Technical and Public Safety Division, Enforcement
1. In this Order, we grant Northland Communications, Inc.
(``Northland'') temporary, 36-month waivers of Section
11.11(a) of the Commission's Rules (``Rules'') for the two
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. Northland filed a request for waivers of Section
11.11(a) for the two captioned cable systems on June 28, 2002.
In support of its waiver requests, Northland states that these
are small, rural cable systems which have few subscribers.
Northland notes that the Meservey system serves 50 subscribers
and the Thornton system serves 105 subscribers. Based on price
quotes provided by EAS equipment manufactures, Northland
estimates that it would cost between $14,000 and $16,000 to
install EAS equipment at the two systems. Northland asserts
that the cost of installing EAS equipment at the system will
impose a substantial financial hardship on it and provides
financial statements for 2000 and 2001 in support of this
assertion. In addition, Northland submits that its
subscribers will continue to have ready access to national EAS
information from other sources, including a number of
programmed channels on its cable systems. Northland also
asserts that its subscribers will have access to EAS
information through over-the-air reception of broadcast
television and ratio stations.
4. Based upon our review of the financial data and other
information submitted by Northland, we conclude that
temporary, 36-month waivers of Section 11.11(a) for the two
cable systems are warranted.9 In particular, we find that the
estimated $14,000 or more cost of EAS equipment for these
small cable systems could impose 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.10 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,12 Northland
Communications, Inc. IS GRANTED waivers of Section 11.11(a) of
the Rules until October 1, 2005 for the two captioned cable
7. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Northland Communications,
Inc. place a copy of these waivers in its systems files.
8. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Order shall
be sent by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to Thomas
A. Lovell, Vice President, Northland Communications, Inc.,
Post Office Box 66, 107 N. 4th Street, Clear Lake, Iowa 50428.
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 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
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.