MMTC calls for multilingual EAS alerts


The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council gave props to FEMA for its proposal to include multiple languages in its proposal for a Common Alerting Protocol, but said the program doesn’t go far enough. Local broadcasters, says MMTC, need to be in the multilingual loop, and singled out radio stations.

One item that needs to be addressed is the possibility that a market’s sole foreign language station may be silenced in an emergency. Another, is to make sure there is a plan in place to “…provide the comprehensive information people need in an emergency – how to seek shelter; where to find food; when it is safe to return; how to be safe upon returning; where to obtain medical assistance; how to find missing loved ones. Only local terrestrial radio’s regular programming is suited to perform that vital function.”

MMTC offered suggestions right after Katrina hit in 2005, and wants the FCC to revisit those suggestions.
Key proposals include broadcasting all presidential-level EAS messages in both English and Spanish, and the establishment of local go-to stations broadcasting in Spanish, and in multiple languages, during an emergency.

MMTC says that non-English “designated hitter” stations should be selected by local broadcasters themselves, with all contributing to funding (which MMTC contends would be minimal), with the FCC stepping in only when a given market is unable to reach any agreement on an emergency response program.

RBR-TVBR observation: Using crisis situations, MMTC highlights the key vital advantage of local broadcasting over other media – LOCAL. Emphasis on local should also be a vital survival technique in the daily conduct of most broadcast businesses.

Stations that fail to be of any use during a crisis will soon find that there is no reason for regulators to fight for their continued existence.

And radio stations that offer cold canned programming that could originate anywhere will soon be overtaken by web-based services that can do the same thing a thousand times better, and deliver it into automobiles.

Some way, somehow most broadcast stations have to find a way to be local. Just saying.