Broadcast stations should be required to air emergency disaster and security warnings in multiple languages, according to a petition that several trade and activist groups filed with the FCC last week.
The Independent Spanish Broadcasters Association, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council and the United Church of Christ urged the FCC to require broadcasters to air multilingual warnings during emergencies, the Washington Times reported.
The petition cited Hurricane Katrina, which knocked the only Spanish-language TV station in New Orleans off the air for more than a week, denying residents who speak only Spanish of “vital information concerning the path of the storm, where and how to seek shelter, and how to remain healthy and safe in the aftermath of the storm.”
The FCC began considering new requirements for emergency broadcasts last year and is still studying the issue. “After Katrina, everyone is hoping there won’t be a next time. Unfortunately, with Mother Nature, there always is,” said Gloria Tristani, managing director of the United Church of Christ’s Office of Communications and an FCC commissioner during the Clinton administration.