Don’t Mess with EAS Tones

Posted on January 29th, 2015 by

The FCC continues to pound away at the sanctity of the audible tone used in official emergency alert system messages.

First, after a lengthy investigation into a Univision FM station that transmitted emergency warning tones in a comedy sketch, Univision settled the matter by agreeing to pay a $20,000 civil penalty and implementing a comprehensive 3-year compliance and reporting plan for not only the FM station in question, but all of Univision’s radio stations across the country. As part of the comedy sketch, the disc jockey had repeatedly used the EAS tones even after openly acknowledging to the public that doing so was illegal. Not good.

Second, the FCC fined Viacom and ESPN $1.4 million (yes, you read correctly) for misusing EAS tones in promotional advertisements for the movie “Olympus Has Fallen”, which portrayed a terrorist attack in Washington, DC.

You can read more about these cases, and link to the settlement or orders here. In the meantime, you might just want to re-emphasize to anyone with on-air access at your station that misuse of EAS tones is a very serious matter.