• FCC Assesses Significant Fines and Warns Against Improper Use of EAS Tones
  • November 26, 2013
  • Law Firm: Lerman Senter PLLC - Washington Office
  • The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau recently assessed significant penalties for the broadcast of Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) attention signals in non-emergency or non-test situations.  The Turner Broadcasting System was assessed $25,000 for its use of a simulated EAS attention signal in a promotional spot for the Conan O’Brien Show, and a Kentucky TV station which broadcast a commercial that included a simulated EAS attention signal entered into a Consent Decree with the FCC and paid a $39,000 voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury.

    On the same day it announced these penalties, the FCC also released an Enforcement Advisory warning against the misuse of the EAS attention signal and other EAS tones - or simulations thereof - to capture audience attention during commercials or at other times when there is no actual emergency or authorized EAS test.  The Enforcement Advisory announced that the prohibition against use of the EAS attention signal and other EAS tones in non-emergency or non-test situations applies both to programmers that distribute programming containing a prohibited sound, and to broadcasters, cable operators, and satellite carriers that transmit the programming.

    The Enforcement Advisory also noted that use of EAS signals and tones in non-emergency or non-test situations may violate Section 325 of the Communications Act, which prohibits transmission of false distress signals, and may also violate the Commission’s rule against the broadcast of hoaxes.