EAS Rules Clarification

Cable Override Clarification

A number of cable systems today are locked into blanket channel override right now for EAS. The FCC should set a "date certain"when all cable head end equipment should be capable of selective override and at that "date certain", cable systems should assume TV stations will not be overridden UNLESS they ask their cable system in writing that they be overridden - a reverse of present policy. Part 11 should be adjusted accordingly.


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Similar Ideas [ 4 ]


  1. Comment

    This appears to be out of scope for a discussion on the national test.

  2. Comment
    rar01 ( Idea Submitter )

    I respectfully submit since cable will be subject to the first-ever EAN live code test, cable override is an issue for that test; albeit not one that is solvable to everyone's satisfaction before the test. However, as we all assess post-test results, I expect there will be cable issues. I would look to Manny Centano as to the scope of this idea generator. The title at the top of this page says it's a "national dialogue on the Emergency Alert System."

  3. Comment
    Manny Centeno
    ( Moderator )

    Cable override is an important subject within the EAS dialogue, for all levels of EAS messages. Of particular interest is the identification of technical and regulatory solutions on this matter. This is an area where cable technology expertise would be most welcome.

  4. Comment
    Ed Czarnecki

    I do not think that the concept of a "date certain" is practical. Most cable operators I have spoken do not oppose the idea of selective override. The issue, however, is the massive embedded infrastructure that would need to be physically replaced in virtually every cable operator - ranging from digital control systems right down to the set top box. There are a good number of set top boxes out there that cannot be updated - they would need to be replaced. Which could happen over time, but the replacement cycle for set-top boxes is years (unlike cell phones, for example).

    This is a very complicated and very costly issues (with implications to the tune of $$ hundreds of millions - one informal estimate put the industry wide toll in the billions).

    I think the first thing would be input from the cable operators to see (1) if the relevant cable equipment and systems are scheduled for upgrade replacement (frankly over the next decade), and (2) whether replacement systems can/should/will support selective override.

    There may be additional standards work to be updated in the cable community as well, and that could take several months (at the very least) to work through.

  5. Comment
    rar01 ( Idea Submitter )

    With all due respect I submit that the idea of setting a sunset date for blanket override should not be rejected out of hand due to the "embedded equipment" and "it will cost billions" arguments. While I realize that we do face a massive obstacle of embedded equipment that cannot do selective override now, going back to the cable industry to solve a problem they created (and have so far not addressed) is not the way to go. The issue has been and always will be that warning systems must not built that erect barriers between people at risk and warnings they need to take protective action and other information that only comes from local broadcasters. When EAS began in 1997, the cable industry was not held to this standard despite objections raised at that time. In my personal opinion, changing out this equipment has to be pushed from the regulatory side lest it never happen, or takes far too long to happen. The FCC should issue a Notice of Inquiry forthwith on regulating what cable boxes do when it comes to how warnings are handled, and let everyone (not just the cable industry) comment.

  6. Comment
    Ed Czarnecki

    I wasn't rejecting the idea "out of hand", or at least did not intend to give that impression. Rather, due to the major technical and cost considerations involved, the idea of a sunset date is a major challenge. Moreover, I'm also thinking about the small cable operations - a few thousand subscribers - which just would not have the financial wherewithal to foot the bill for an infrastructure rebuild. Something else I'm pondering is the difference between an regulated transition where spectrum is concerned (like the DTV transition), vs. one where the vast majority of the relevant infrastructure is proprietary and privately held. In this regard, there may be legal constraints, in addition to the technical and financial. Again, I'm not naysaying out of hand. I'm just trying to pinpoint the very large obstacles that would need to be navigated around.

  7. Comment

    I think a better option is to use a text banner across the screen so it does not interfer with end user visual usage of channels.

    Customers are already fed up with the interruption of programming during forced tune events, and most perfer the banner or ticker across their screen.

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