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“Regulatory Uncertainty” Prompts Further EAS CAP Extension Request


As we reported previously, in an atypical display of unity among broadcasters and the cable industry, the parties found common ground and filed a Petition with the FCC seeking to extend the deadline for implementing the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) standard.

Last week, that unified front continued when we filed a further extension request with the FCC on behalf of an even greater assembly of EAS Participants, including the State Broadcasters Associations, representing all fifty States and the District of Columbia, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Broadcast Warning Working Group, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the American Cable Association, National Public Radio, the Association of Public Television Stations, and the Public Broadcasting Service. The Petition asks the FCC to grant a further extension of at least 180 days beyond the current September 30, 2011 CAP compliance deadline, with the 180 days to run from the effective date of the Commission’s amendment of its Part 11 rules pursuant to its recently released Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. (Our discussion of the Third Further Notice can be found here).

In granting the earlier request for an extension of the CAP deadline, the FCC acknowledged that if it failed to extend the 180-day deadline, it could “lead to an unduly rushed, expensive, and likely incomplete process.” As a result, the Commission issued its Order giving EAS Participants until September 30, 2011, to acquire and install equipment able to accept CAP-formatted EAS messages.

In their Petition seeking a further extension of the CAP deadline, the broadcast and cable industries assert that a later deadline is warranted given the regulatory uncertainty that remains regarding CAP compliance. The Petition notes the nearly unanimous view of those who commented on the Third Further Notice that the deadline should be further extended because the FCC has not yet decided whether it will itself conduct EAS equipment certification in addition to the certification being done by FEMA. The Petition also notes that the Third Further Notice may lead to Part 11 rule changes altering the current obligations of EAS Participants in ways that would affect the purchase, installation and operation of new EAS equipment.

The Petition also states that a further extension will allow participants in the scheduled November 9, 2011, National EAS Test to focus their limited engineering resources on ensuring the success of the nationwide test. (We previously reported on the first National EAS Test here and here).

It remains to be seen whether a further extension will be granted, but if the Petition and the majority of comments recently filed in response to the FCC’s Third Further Notice in the EAS proceeding are any indication, EAS Participants — including broadcasters, cable operators and many others — feel strongly that a further extension of the deadline is essential.