FCC Opens Multilingual EAS Proposals For Comment
March 11, 2014 at 6:39 PM (PT)
It's been over eight years since the FCC originally put the issue of Emergency Alert System messages for non-English speakers out for comment upon a petition by the MINORITY MEDIA AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COUNCIL, and while the docket is still under consideration, the Commission has opened another comment window to refresh the record based on technological and regulatory changes to the EAS. The notice includes a recent proposal by the MMTC that stations cooperate in an emergency in a "designated hitter" approach with procedures to allow non-English broadcasters knocked off the air to get physical access to another station’s facilities to alert the non-English speaking community, with provisions for where the non-English broadcaster can get the key to the station, who can access the microphones, and what would constitute "best efforts" to contact non-English broadcasters during and after an emergency if personnel are unable to travel to the designated hitter station. In addition, the Commission is looking for comment on requiring Presidential alerts to be delivered in both English and Spanish.
Comments will be due 30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register, with replies due 45 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.
Commissioner MIGNON CLYBURN said, “I commend Chairman (TOM) WHEELER for issuing a Public Notice that includes a proposal to ensure non-English-speaking persons have access to important information in an emergency. This proposal asks broadcasters, as well as state and local governments, to work on a plan to address the needs of such persons if a non-English station is knocked off the air during an emergency. During our field hearings to study service outages during Super Storm Sandy, we learned how important broadcaster cooperation was to keeping TV and radio stations operational so communities could receive information. Today’s Public Notice asks several questions about the details necessary to implement this proposal. Responses to these questions will help the Commission craft specific rules, if necessary, to promote this goal.”