Skip to main content

MMTC Presses Case At FCC For Multilingual EAS

The Minority Media & Telecommunications Council wants the FCC to act on its petition seeking multilingual emergency warnings.

In comments to the commission, MMTC pointed out that Aug. 29 marks the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and says the commission should act on MMTC's petition before then.

"Despite the Petition for Immediate Relief, Independent Panel recommendations and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) support, the Commission has made no significant progress to ensure that non-English speaking residents will have access to lifesaving information before, during, and in the wake of an emergency," MMTC told the commission.

MMTC wants the FCC to require broadcasters to work with local governments and other stations to come with a plan for what each will do in an emergency to make sure that non-English speakers get timely emergency info, preferably relayed by a human being rather than a computer translation program, at least "until translation technologies are capable of capturing the nuances of language through which critical information is transmitted and received."

In May 2013, saying it wanted action before the start of the hurricane season, MMTC asked the FCC for revisions to its emergency alert system (EAS) system "to provide for the dissemination of multilingual local, state and national emergency information via the EAS to ensure that non-English speaking persons will have access to the same information as their English speaking neighbors in an emergency."

MMTC has been pressing its case for multilingual EAS for years, pointing out back in 2008 that it had been, then, three years since Katrina with no FCC action on multilingual warnings.