Some of America's favorite TV programs have caught the wrath of the Federal Communications Commission and it will cost them.
The FCC's Enforcement Bureau has hit ABC and its late-night show ‘'Jimmy Kimmel Live!'’ AMC and its zombie drama "The Walking Dead," and Discovery for the reality series ‘Lone Star Law,’ which is seen on Animal Planet. The fines total more $600,000 -- all for the misuse of the emergency alert system. Los Angeles area radio station, KDAY was also slapped with a penalty.
The Kimmel show was hit the hardest by the Commission, hit the talk/comedy show for $395,000 according to the federal agency's official release. Kimmel’s infraction occurred on the October 3rd, 2018 broadcast which featured a simulated emergency tone three times during a comedy routine. The FCC said, “ABC admitted to the violation,” and “agreed to pay.”
A spokesperson from ABC concurred: “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 use of actual or simulated EAS tones during non-emergencies and outside of proper testing or public service announcements is a serious public safety concern,” explained the FCC in their statement defending the steep fines. “The FCC’s rules prohibit such broadcasting of EAS tones – including simulations of them – except during actual emergencies, authorized tests or authorized public service announcements.”
AMC’s fine came in at $104,000.00 for the use of the tones during the airing of the ‘Omega Episode,’ of "Walking Dead" - which ironically was one of the lowest-rated episodes in the show's history attracting only 4.5 million viewers. At its height five years ago the series was averaging more than 14 million viewers. AMC plans to pay the fine.
Discovery's penalty is for $68,000 for the “Lone Star Law” episode entitled “Thousand Year Flood,” which aired from January to March of 2018 on Animal Planet. The series included an actual warning signal. The crew was filming Texas Game Wardens following Hurricane Harvey and caught the tone of a real wireless alert received by phones during filming.
KDAY, owned by Meruelo Radio Holdings, was nailed for $67,000.00 for simulating a warning signal in a promotion for its morning show.
Neither Discovery or KDAY are contesting the fines.