A WTLV Jacksonville, Fla., promotion for the Jacksonville Jaguars included EAS tones permitted only for emergencies and system tests.
FCC Fines Tegna $55,000 Over EAS Tones
The FCC today announced a settlement with Tegna Inc. for false broadcast of Emergency Alert System tones by its NBC affiliate WTLV Jacksonville, Fla. (DMA 47). The commission says that unauthorized use of EAS tones “undermine the system’s effectiveness by desensitizing the public to the tones’ association with life-saving information and public safety announcements, and under certain circumstances, may generate additional false alerts.”
In August of last year, the station made four broadcasts of simulated EAS tones contained within an advertisement for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. To settle the investigation, the company has agreed to pay a $55,000 fine, admits to misuse of EAS tones, and will implement a compliance and reporting plan to avoid such actions in the future.
The FCC received a complaint on Aug. 9, 2016, alleging that WTLV had “aired a commercial multiple times that improperly used the EAS data burst and tone.” The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau investigated and found that the advertisement opened with EAS tones accompanied by the sounds of howling winds and thunder claps. Between the EAS tones and the sounds of a storm, a voiceover stated: “This is an emergency broadcast transmission. This is not a test. This is an emergency broadcast transmission. This is not a test. Please remain calm. Seek shelter.” The promotion closes with EAS tones playing in the background.
Federal law prohibits the transmission of actual or simulated EAS tones in circumstances other than an actual emergency, authorized test or certain public service announcements, the FCC said.
The promotion aired four times over three days, from Aug. 6 through Aug. 8, 2016. After seeing a broadcast of the advertisement, a WTLV staff member halted further airings and contacted station management.
The settlement, formally known as a Consent Decree, is available here.