NAB, EMF, MMTC Weigh In On FCC Multilingual EAS Proposal
May 30, 2014 at 4:24 AM (PT)
The NAB has filed comments with the FCC opposing the proposed changes to the Emergency Alert System to include requirements for multilingual alerts.
The filing asserts that "Federally mandating the creation of 'emergency communications plans,' such as the proposed 'designated hitter' approach, is unnecessary to ensure the continued delivery of emergency information, including non-English programming."
The NAB said that the situation in Hurricane KATRINA in which the only non-English language station in a market is rendered inoperable is "extremely unlikely" because of the growth in numbers of Spanish-language stations since 2005. The organization voiced its preference for "voluntary cooperation among local stations, combined with Commission processes created since 2005" to do the job, and added that "the primary responsibility for issuing multilingual EAS alerts should lie with the emergency managers and other officials that originate EAS alerts. Such an approach would help ensure the accuracy, timeliness and uniformity of EAS alerts, which could be compromised by requiring that EAS Participants evaluate, edit or translate such messages. The critical role that EAS Participants play in the EAS system as passive conduits of messages created by official decision-makers should be preserved."
EDUCATIONAL MEDIA FOUNDATION also filed an opposition to the proposal, warning that they "may be difficult and potentially expensive to implement" and asking for an exemption for noncommercial educational stations. EMF also noted that the question of what level of a non-English-speaking population would trigger the requirement was left unanswered, and how non-English-speakers would know where to tune if the primary non-English station is off the air and the responsibility to air the alerts as "designated hitter" rotates among other stations.
The MINORITY MEDIA AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COUNCIL, which made the proposals being considered in the proceeding, filed comments noting that AUGUST 29th will be the ninth anniversary of KATRINA and urged the Commission to act by that date this year.