By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP,
As we wrote here, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recently reached a 2-1 decision upholding the FCC’s decision to not impose obligations on broadcasters to broadcast multilingual EAS alerts. However, MMTC, the public interest group seeking the imposition of the requirements, has asked for what is called a “rehearing en banc,” asking that all the Judge of the Court review the decision of the original panel. The request for the review relies heavily on the opinion of the dissenting judge from the initial panel, who argued that the FCC has twice promised to look at ways to implement multilingual EAS alerts in some form or another, and twice been unable to gather enough information to be able to come to any decision. As the FCC’s most recent decision was based on a premise that it would again seek to gather such information, the dissenting judge asked why the FCC should be trusted to come to a decision now, when it had not been able to do so before.
The full court has called for responsive briefs, where presumably the difficulties in implementing such alerts will be discussed (see our article here). But broadcasters should be watching this request for review, as it raises serious issues that may be considered by the court.
David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).
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