The FCC reached settlement with ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, AMC’s The Walking Dead and Discovery’s Lone Star Law, as well as Meruelo Radio Holdings. Combined, the companies agreed to pay $600,000 in civil penalties.
The FCC said the enforcement is meant to protect the integrity of the alert system and avoid confusion when the emergency tones are used. It also prevents alert fatigue among the public.
“The use of actual or simulated EAS tones during non-emergencies and outside of proper testing or public service announcements is a serious public concern,” the FCC said in a statement.
“The FCC’s rules prohibit such broadcasting of EAS tones — including simulations of them — except during actual emergencies, authorized tests or authorized public service announcements.”
On Oct. 3, 2018, Jimmy Kimmel Live! used a simulated tone three times during a comedy sketch. The FCC settled with parent network ABC for $395,000.
The Walking Dead used the tone in the Omega Episode two times. AMC settled with the FCC for $104,000.
Animal Planet’s Lone Star Law had an episode entitled “Thousand Year Flood,” about the response of Texas Game Wardens to Hurricane Harvey. The tone was captured from a real phone during the filming. The episode aired eight times from January to March 2018. Discovery agreed to a $68,000 penalty.
Meruelo Radio Holdings stations KDAY and KDEY-FM did a simulation of the emergency alert during a promotion for its morning show. It aired 106 times on KDAY and 33 times on KDEY, the FM simulcast of KDAY. The company agreed to a $67,000 settlement.
The FCC said it remains concerned about attempts to use the emergency alert tone “during advertisements, dramatic entertainment and educational programs, and at any other time there is no genuine alert, authorized test, or authorized [public service announcement].”