The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau has settled with Meruelo Radio Holdings for misusing Emergency Alert System (EAS) tones on the company’s classic Hip-Hop simulcast on KDAY Los Angeles and KDEY Riverside. ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and Discovery’s “Lone Star Law” were also part of the settlements for airing actual or simulated EAS or Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) tones. The combined settlement amount was $300,000 in civil penalties.
In the fall of 2017, Meruelo’s KDAY and KDEY-FM included a simulation of an EAS attention signal in a promotion for its morning show. According to the FCC, the promo aired 106 times on KDAY and 33 times on KDEY. KDEY picked up the KDAY simulcast in October 2017. Meruelo admitted to the violation and agreed to pay a $67,000 civil penalty fine and committed to a compliance plan.
In announcing the settlements, the Enforcement Bureau says, “We remain concerned about the misuse of the EAS codes and EAS and WEA attention signals, or simulations thereof, to capture audience attention during advertisements; dramatic, entertainment, and educational programs, and at any other time that there is no genuine alert, authorized test, or authorized PSA about the EAS or WEA that is accompanied by an appropriate disclaimer. The FCC may issue sanctions for such violations, including, but not limited to, monetary forfeitures.”
In October 2018, an episode of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” used a simulated WEA tone three times during a comedic sketch. ABC admitted to the violation, agreed to pay a $395,000 civil penalty and committed to a compliance plan.
AMC’s “The Walking Dead” twice included EAS tones in a February 2019 episode. AMC also admitted to the violation, agreed to pay a $104,000 civil penalty and committed to a compliance plan.
An episode of Discovery Channel’s “Lone Star Law” that aired between January and March 2018 included an actual WEA signal. As with the others named in the settlements, Discovery admitted to the violation, agreed to pay a $68,000 civil penalty and committed to a compliance plan.