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Take that CAP and shove it

The clock is counting down, and broadcasters and cable operators are joining forces (fancy that?) to ask the FCC to extend the deadline. Currently, radio and TV stations, as well as cable operators, must implement the next generation of emergency alert technology, known as Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), by March 20, 2011. FEMA began this 180-day countdown to implementation when it signed off on the technical standard in mid-October.

The problem for broadcasters and cable operators is that there are no currently approved CAP equipment for sale. In addition, no industry tests have been conducted to be sure a nationwide system is ready for prime time. Experts say many issues remain to be resolved, including operation and deployment. Most in these industries, to say nothing about manufacturers, believe that not only is an extension necessary, but that one will be granted.

One communications law firm, CommLawCenter, has filed a request to extend the time period by which broadcasters and cable operators must implement the new standard. The firm’s attorneys have requested the FCC extend the deadline through at least September 2011. In addition, the request includes an even longer implementation period based on how long the FCC might take to perform its own CAP equipment certification and modify its own rules to complete CAP implementation.

Participating in the request for a delay were 46 state broadcast associations, NAB, NCTA, SBE, ACA, MSTV, NPR, APTS and PBS. Said the firm’s attorney, Scott, R. Flick, “I can't recall any prior issue inspiring such unanimity among this diverse group of participants, and that should provide an indication of the seriousness with which they view the upcoming task.”

Stay tuned to Broadcast Engineering for the latest updates on CAP deadlines.