FCC fines 'The Walking Dead,' Jimmy Kimmel for use of emergency alert tones

FCC fines 'The Walking Dead,' Jimmy Kimmel for use of emergency alert tones
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday announced it would be slapping fines after several shows, including “Jimmy KimmelJames (Jimmy) Christian KimmelBiden to give virtual interview with Colbert on Thursday Jimmy Kimmel: 'I was wrong' to share deceptive Pence video Scarborough apologizes to Pence, Cruz after heated Twitter feud MORE Live!” and “The Walking Dead,” misused emergency alert tones.

The FCC settled with several broadcast, cable and radio outlets for more than $600,000 in civil penalties over their Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) tones.


ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” was hit with the largest fine — $395,000 — after using a simulated WEA tone three times during a comedy sketch in October.

The skit mocked President Trump’s new nationwide alert system with a Hollywood-style trailer for a fictional film called “The Textening: On a Phone Near You,” in which a family can’t escape receiving text messages from the president with phrases like “NO COLLUSION!” and “WITCH HUNT!”   


AMC’s “The Walking Dead” used EAS tones twice in a February during the “Omega Episode” and agreed to pay a $104,000 civil penalty.

Discovery’s Animal Planet broadcasted an actual WEA signal that was recorded while filming an episode of “Lone Star Law” with Texas game wardens following Hurricane Harvey, the FCC said in a statement.

The film crew recorded the tone of a real wireless alert on cellphones and was broadcasted nationwide between January and March 2018 in the episode entitled “Thousand Year Flood.” Discovery will pay a $68,000 civil penalty.

The FCC noted that Meurelo Radio Holdings will face a $67,000 civil penalty for simulated warning signals dozens of times during broadcasts on California radio stations KDAY and KDEY-FM.

In addition to the fines, the programmers agreed to compliance plans in their settlements with FCC.

The federal agency said the misuse of actual or simulated emergency tones during non-emergencies or proper testing is a “serious safety concern.”

“These rules aim to protect the integrity of the alert system by helping to avoid confusion when the tones are used, alert fatigue among listeners, and false activation of the EAS by the operative data elements contained in the alert tones,” according to the FCC statement.

ABC said it took compliance with regulations seriously and said it was pleased to have settled the issue.

"ABC has entered into a Consent Decree with the FCC that results in the termination of an inquiry into the October 3, 2018 episode of 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' ABC takes regulatory compliance seriously and we are pleased to have resolved this issue," the network said in a statement. 

AMC did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Hill.

Updated at 10:06 a.m.