FCC fines ESPN, NBC for action movie ad

ESPN, NBC Universal and Viacom are being fined a combined $1.9 million for misusing the emergency alert system.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, the media companies used codes and a signal tone from the federal public warning system to advertise the movie “Olympus Has Fallen.”

The FCC bans stations from using the emergency alert system, except in cases of actual emergencies. The alert is used by federal, state and local agencies to deliver information about severe weather or other emergency situations, and to allow the president to speak with the American public during an emergency.

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Three channels owned by ESPN aired the “Olympus Has Fallen” ad 13 times over four days. Channels owned by NBC showed it 38 times over six days. Viacom-owned stations like MTV, Comedy Central and BET showed the trailer a combined 108 times over five days.

The stations acknowledged they showed the trailer, violating the FCC’s regulations.

“Olympus Has Fallen,” which came out last spring, portrayed a North Korean terrorist assault on the White House. The “No Surrender” trailer at the center of the FCC fine used the emergency alert signal over images of a terrorist taking over the White House and the words “This is not a test” and “This is not a drill.” 

The FCC claims there has been a “recent spike in consumer complaints” about use of the emergency alert system for advertisements.

TBS was hit with a $25,000 fine for a “Conan” commercial that misused the tone last year.