Alerts & Notifications

$1 Million Fine for Misusing the Emergency Alert System

iHeartMedia has agreed to pay a million-dollar fine after one of its syndicated DJs aired a fake EAS announcement that activated the alert system in several states.

by Rick Wimberly / May 19, 2015

A $1 million fine will be paid by iHeartMedia for airing false Emergency Alert System (EAS) tones. The now-admitted violation occurred on The Bobby Bones Show that aired on 70 radio stations last November. Bones was agitated because an EAS test interrupted his viewing of a World Series game. So in protest he faked an EAS test on his show the next morning. It started a cascade of events that issued false alerts on radio and TV stations in several states.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says as part of the fine settlement, iHeart had to admit it violated FCC regulations, implement a compliance plan and remove all EAS tones from the company's audio production libraries.

The FCC says it has fined five organizations nearly $2.5 million for misusing EAS tones in the last six months. The largest fine ($1.4 million) was against Viacom and ESPN for a tone used in a promotional ad for a movie.  

In a statement, the FCC's chief of enforcement said, "Misuse of the emergency alert system jeopardizes the nation's public safety, falsely alarms the public and undermines confidence in the emergency alert system."

You can find the iHeartMedia order here.