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MMTC Asks Court for Review of FCC Multilingual Decision

Group had called the decision deeply flawed

The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council has asked a court of appeals to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s decision on multilingual EAS notifications.

The petition, filed in late October in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, seeks a review of a commission order released in March. The MMTC wants the FCC to ensure that individuals not proficient in English have equal access to emergency information during local, state and national emergencies. Multilingual emergency alerts would be in key markets where sizeable populations are non-English speaking.

The court has yet to schedule oral arguments, according to court documents.

The MMTC petition states that the FCC supports reliance upon voluntary arrangements among and between EAS participants and other parties to achieve multilingual solutions. However, the MMTC claims a pilot program it tested to recruit English-language stations to volunteer to be a “designated hitter” and to air multilingual emergency information failed to garner a single volunteer broadcaster.

The MMTC seeks changes to the FCC’s EAS framework to ensure vital information gets to listeners who do not speak English. It wants national alerts in English and Spanish; state and local plans that would designate an LP-Spanish station in areas where 5% of a population speaks primarily Spanish; and a multilingual LP station for any area where the 5% or more of the population speaks primarily another language.

“In its Final Order, the FCC ignored not only the needs of 4 million LEP [Limited English Proficient] Americans, but also its obligations under the Communications Act and the Administrative Procedure Act,” the MMTC wrote in the court petition.

The MMTC is joined on the appeal by the League of United Latin American Citizens, Inc.