FCC Won't Reduce Fines on Viacom, ESPN Over EAS Misuse

The FCC has refused to reduce the fines it proposed against Viacom and ESPN for misuse of the emergency alert system.

The penalties stem from an ad the three aired repeatedly for the film Olympus Has Fallen that included Emergency Alerts System warning tones that are only supposed to be used in a real emergency.

All three companies (NBCU was cited, too) initially contested their liability for airing the tones in the movie trailer, but the FCC cited a spike in consumer complaints about simulated or actual EAS tones and said that it prohibited their use in other than emergency situations, in part for the "cry wolf" element of desensitizing viewers to the importance of real tones.

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John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.