DMA 47: JACKSONVILLE, FL

FCC Fines Tegna $55,000 Over EAS Tones

A WTLV Jacksonville, Fla., promotion for the Jacksonville Jaguars included EAS tones permitted only for emergencies and system tests.

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.

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Comments (14)

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alicia farmer says:

May 30, 2017 at 11:45 am

Stunning display of idiocy by WTLV.

Snead Hearn says:

May 30, 2017 at 11:59 am

WOW.. Who was monitoring the on air?

    alicia farmer says:

    May 30, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    The question isn’t “who was monitoring the on air?” It’s who has standards and practices responsibility at WTLV? All commercials must be screened in advance by someone who knows what they are doing. If there is any debate the general manager must be involved. TV 101.

Cameron Miller says:

May 30, 2017 at 12:22 pm

@Commentors: Stop defending the FCC and stop bashing TV stations!

Ron Burrus says:

May 30, 2017 at 12:38 pm

The Jacksonville Jaguars ARE an emergency situation.

Angie McClimon says:

May 30, 2017 at 12:43 pm

I found the spot on YouTube. It’s pretty stupid, all things considered. But someone at WLTV should have caught this and flagged it. The FCC made the right decision and Tegna owned up to the mistake. Some station owners probably wouldn’t have.

Sean Smith says:

May 30, 2017 at 4:36 pm

Back in the day, this was a fire-able offense. No questions asked. There was no way to do this accidentally. Any time it was done other than an official EBS notification, it was done deliberately and the person or persons responsible were summarily dismissed.

    alicia farmer says:

    May 30, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    This moronic commercial (You Tube) was obviously produced by the Jaguars bush league ad agency. The first person responsible for making sure it never aired was the local Account Executive. He/she should have been summarily fired. The next person to stop it should have been the Traffic Manager. Next in line – Local Sales Manager, General Sales Manager, General Manager. Pathetic.

    Brian Bussey says:

    May 30, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    AE’s don’t look at spots, traffic people look at spots. if a sales manager tells me to look at spot that I am not involved in producing then we revise my comp plan off straight commission.

Gregg Palermo says:

May 30, 2017 at 5:10 pm

Any viewer who was genuinely confused by this gratuitous use of the tones is already too stupid for government protection. Watch it before you criticize it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO69Oq0AgK0

Joe Jaime says:

May 30, 2017 at 9:36 pm

Master Control should have written this up on the first run and the GM should have caught it right away in the daily MC report. Lots of blame to go around on this one.

Sue Sendelbach says:

May 31, 2017 at 10:31 am

Wow – I suspect that a few of the people commenting here have been out of the business awhile. This station most likely [like most stations these days] are being operated under automation and/or remotely controlled. Most stations these days are not operated like the days of old, with someone dedicated in Master Control [the Master Control Operator] sitting at the controls monitoring every aspect of air playout. This error most likely occurred when the person prepping the playlist inadvertently placed an EAS Test trigger in the wrong place, or in the case of multiple times when I was sitting at the helm, the maintenance department triggered the event while testing equipment, etc. Normally testing is done while the air signal is in bypass. But looking at the Youtube clip it sure looks like it was a poorly placed trigger. And to GMRetiredTV’s point, this could only have been done [written up] if someone [station personal] would have seen it first. It’s only going to get worse as more and more hands on personal are being placed with automation. I understand why – but this is a sampling of what to expect.

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