Press Release

Washington, DC — February 15, 2024 — The Federal Communications Commission today proposed rules that would make it easier for emergency managers to send emergency alerts in non-English languages to the public over television and radio.  The proposal would remove a key barrier to sending multilingual messages through the Emergency Alert System, which could in turn spur more alerts that are accessible to more people—and potentially save lives.

According to U.S. Census data, over 26 million people in the U.S. report that they do not speak English very well or at all.  While the Emergency Alert System currently allows authorities to issue their alerts in languages other than English, the vast majority of these alerts are issued only in English.  One of the key multilingual alerting challenges faced by authorities is translating time-sensitive alerts into additional languages during crises.  The Commission’s proposal would address this challenge by presenting emergency managers with pre-scripted, template alert messages and prerecorded audio files in non-English languages as an option for initiating alerts over the Emergency Alert System.  

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted today, the Commission is seeking comment on proposals to:  

  • Create template alert scripts in the 13 most commonly spoken non-English languages in the U.S.  These template scripts and audio files would be produced by the Commission and installed in the Emergency Alert System equipment operated by Emergency Alert System participants, such as broadcasters and cable providers.
  • Seek comment on the feasibility of developing and implementing American Sign Language (ASL) versions of the template alerts, including how ASL translations of the template scripts would be processed and displayed.  
  • Establish a process through which emergency managers can initiate template alerts, which Emergency Alert System participants would then be required to transmit on their channel(s) in the template language that corresponds to their programming content.

Action by the Commission February 15, 2024 by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 24-23).  Chairwoman Rosenworcel, Commissioners Carr, Starks, Simington, and Gomez approving.  Chairwoman Rosenworcel, Commissioners Starks and Gomez issuing separate statements.

PS Docket No. 15-94

Press Release

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One thought on “FCC Seeks Comment on Multilingual Wireless Emergency Alerts

  1. All things considered, this proposed rulemaking is a step in the right direction toward making emergency warnings more effective and accessible, and it emphasizes how crucial it is to take into account the various language and communication demands of the public when planning for emergencies.

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