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FCC Extends Deadline for Implementing EAS CAP

Many broadcasters were concerned about the FCC Rules Section 11.56 deadline by which all EAS participants had to be able to receive CAP-formatted EAS alerts. The deadline was set at 180 days after FEMA published the technical standards and requirements for FEMA transmissions. These standards were published on September 30, 2010, starting the 180-day clock and establishing a March 29, 2011, deadline.

However, before stations can begin receiving CAP-formatted EAS alerts, FEMA has to initiate the IPAWS network for EAS dissemination; conduct CAPS-IPAWS conformance testing of devices or systems to be connected to the IPAWS network; and have available CAP EAS devices, which have received FCC-type certification. Broadcast stations also have to have IP connectivity to receive the CAP EAN and procure, install and test equipment.

On October 21, 2010, several broadcast and cable entities filed a petition for expedited extension of the 180-day CAP requirement, noting the concerns mentioned above and asking for “at least an additional six months to September 30, 2011” for coming into compliance with the CAP reception requirement, or “other appropriate relief, including, but not limited to a longer extension as well as holding the deadline in abeyance until the FCC has completed its own CAP-related equipment certification process and has resolved its anticipated rulemaking proceeding concerning modifications to Part 11 of the Commission’s rules necessary to reflect the implementation of CAP.”

The FCC agreed, stating, “Under these circumstances, we believe that it is reasonable to provide additional time so that manufacturers and vendors may respond to these changed circumstances within their product development cycles. Commenters also indicate that there is a lack of clarity regarding the need for, and requirements of, Commission certification of CAP-compliant equipment, an issue we discuss below. Taken collectively, we conclude that these factors would make full adoption of the CAP reception rule unduly burdensome; to the extent it is even possible, within 180 days of FEMA’s September 30, 2010, adoption of CAP.”

The FCC Order also noted, “We are concerned that retaining the 180-day deadline would lead to an unduly rushed, expensive, and likely incomplete process. On the other hand, our decision to waive the deadline for a period not to extend beyond September 30, 2011, will not undermine the policy of the CAP reception requirement, but will rather enhance parties’ ability to further the prompt development of a state-of-the-art, next-generation national EAS.”

I’m not sure the extension to September 30, 2011, will be sufficient. The FCC noted, “We intend to revisit the issue of CAP acceptance by EAS Participants in an upcoming notice of proposed rulemaking undertaking a comprehensive review of the impact of CAP on our Part 11 rules, including the CAP reception rule and the issue of Commission certification under its Part 11 rules of CAP-compliant equipment.” The FCC appears to realize an additional extension may be needed when it states “We further anticipate that we will complete that rulemaking prior to the expiration of the waiver period granted in this Order. Under these circumstances, we do not contemplate any further waivers of the CAP reception rule. In that notice, however, we will seek comment on whether the extension for CAP acceptance by EAS Participants granted in this waiver order is sufficient, and reserve the right to further extend the date for CAP reception in any new rule we may adopt.”

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.