Sunday, 05 April, 2020

ABC Fined Almost $400K for Jimmy Kimmel Emergency Skit

Theo Wargo  Getty Images Theo Wargo Getty Images
Adrian Cunningham | 19 August, 2019, 03:28

ABC will pay the biggest penalty, owing the commission $395,000 for using the sound in a segment from an October episode of the late night talk show.

ABC isn't the only U.S. cable network in trouble - AMC was fined US$104,000 after its show The Walking Dead used simulated EAS tones in two scenes in February, while Animal Planet's series Lone Star Law also misused the emergency alert system tone, receiving a penalty of US$68,000. In a news release issued on Thursday, the FCC announced it reached settlements with radio and TV broadcasters for playing the tone for national and regional audiences when there wasn't an official national emergency.

ABC said in a statement it takes "regulatory compliance seriously and we are pleased to have resolved this issue.' In its consent decree with the FCC, it admitted it did broadcast the tones 'in the absence of an actual emergency" or authorized test in an October 3, 2018 broadcast.

"THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System".

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"Alert fatigue", the FCC warns, can occur when people become desensitized to EAS Tones - particularly if they're used commercially or for entertainment - pushing them to wonder if the alert is signaling actual danger or something else entirely. AMC paid $104,000 for an episode of "The Walking Dead" that aired in February 2019 and used the EAS tone twice. "No action is needed", the alert said.

ABC told the FCC that there was a "misunderstanding that the use of the tone was permissible".

Jimmy Kimmel's show was not the only culprit.

In addition to paying the fines, each company has also agreed to implement a compliance plan in order to avoid misuse of the tone in the future. That way, listeners aren't confused when there's an actual emergency that warrants the alert. Meruelo Radio Holdings paid $67,000 for a promotion of its two morning shows that included a simulation of EAS tones.