Alert tones used in a “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” episode earlier this year to poke fun at a presidential alert test that occurred last year cost ABC $395,000 in fines, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in a Thursday statement announcing a handful of settlements with TV networks.
The FCC said it had settled with the networks for the misuse of the emergency alert system (EAS) tone. The tone is broadcast via TV, radio and other devices to warn of emergencies such as hurricanes and other national disasters.
“We remain concerned about the misuse of the EAS codes and EAS and WEA Attention Signals, or simulations thereof, to capture audience attention during advertisements; dramatic, entertainment and educational programs, and at any other time that there is no genuine alert,” the agency said in a statement. “The FCC may issue sanctions for such violations, including, but not limited to, monetary forfeitures.”
The comedian’s late-night show used a tone three times during an Oct. 3, 2018, sketch. Earlier that day, roughly 225 million electronic devices across the U.S. received the “Presidential Alert” that read “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
The network said the tones were improperly used in the episode. ABC signed a consent decree with the FCC, in which it admitted using the tones.
The network said Thursday, “ABC takes regulatory compliance seriously and we are pleased to have resolved this issue.”
Other networks also reached a settlement for similar violations.
AMC Networks agreed to pay $104,000 in civil fines for using an alert tone in a February episode of “The Walking Dead.”
Discovery’s Animal Planet and Meruelo Radio Holdings were also fined. Discovery agreed to pay $68,000 for using an actual wireless emergency alert tone in an episode of Animal Planet’s “Lone Star Law.”
Crew members received the tone on their phones during filming Texas game wardens following Hurricane Harvey.
And Meruelo paid $67,000 for broadcasting a signal during a promotion for Southern California-based radio stations.
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