FCC Fines Viacom $1.2 Million, ESPN $280,000 For Airing Movie Ad With EAS Tone
January 20, 2015 at 1:08 PM (PT)
Once again, the FCC has issued an expensive reminder that emergency alert tones are not to be used for other than an actual alert or test: The Commission fined VIACOM a whopping $1.2 million and ESPN $280,000 for airing the same promo for the film “Olympus Has Fallen” that previously earned NBCUNIVERSAL a $530,000 fine. The cable networks aired the promo with EAS warning tones in 2013 to promote the movie; the FCC proposed the fines in MARCH 2014, and NBCUNIVERSAL paid its fine but VIACOM and ESPN appealed. VIACOM added its contention that the lack of enforcement against agency HORIZON MEDIA or cable operators for the infraction should block enforcement against itself, and ESPN complained that the enforcement was based on the complaint of an FCC engineer, but the Commission rejected both arguments.
In a press release about the fined, Enforcement Bureau Chief TRAVIS LEBLANC said, “The public relies on this system to prepare them for real emergencies. Our action here sends a strong signal that use of the EAS tones for non-emergency purposes presents a danger to public safety which we will not tolerate.”