The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $504,000 fine against Fox after it used a three-second excerpt of the EAS tones as part of a 2021 promo for its “Fox NFL Sunday” program. Fox admits it downloaded the tones from a YouTube video for the promo, which aired on 190 television stations – including 29 it owns – as well as on its syndicated Fox Sports Radio on both broadcast and satellite radio, and online via its iHeartRadio web stream. If the fine is upheld, it would be the biggest ever fine issued by the FCC for misuse of EAS tones.
The FCC says its proposed fine is based on Fox’s admissions and its review of a video recording of the promotional segment. “Despite being shorter in duration than the full EAS Tones, the three-second EAS tone used in the promotional segment possessed the same dual-tone frequency, pitch, and timbre as the actual EAS tones, and was recognizable by viewers or listeners as substantially similar to the EAS tones, the FCC says. The Commission also says the segment’s comedic tone also “did not alter or neutralize its overall effect of falsely warning listeners and viewers of a non-existent emergency” since the tones were “clearly audible, cognizable, and appropriated for a non-emergency use.”
The Commission has previously applied an $8,000 base forfeiture for violations, but says the nature of EAS violations requires particularly serious consideration because, among other issues, such violations undermine the integrity of the EAS by desensitizing the public to the potential importance of warning tones.