FCC to fine NBC Universal, Viacom and ESPN for $1.9 million

By Andrew Wilson,

The Federal Communications Commission has always joked that they are a bunch of “rule sticklers” and will smack down a fine for looking at them the wrong way. But NBC Universal, Viacom, and ESPN are feeling the FCC’s whip, fining them $1.9 million for the use of the Emergency Broadcast System tone in a movie trailer.

According to Variety, the FCC noted that it has “long prohibited the transmission of actual or simulated EAS Attention Signals or tones in circumstances other than a real alert or an authorized test of the EAS system.” The reason is to protect the effectiveness of the alert, which they believe is being threatened by non-emergency use.

In this case, the tone was used in the disaster movie Olympus Has Fallen from 2013, The Hollywood Reporter noted. NBC Universal aired the commercial 33 times for a total fine of $530,000, ESPN aired 13 times for a total fine of $280,000, and the biggest loser is Viacom with a $1.2 million fine for airing it 57 times.

Last November the FCC issued a $25,000 penalty against TBS for using the Emergency Alert System sound in a promo for Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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