jimmy kimmel fined
jimmy kimmel fined

There are few things that remain sacrosanct in our society at large these days, but the Emergency Alert System is still one of them. The Federal Communications Commission issued fines on Thursday to several broadcast stations for violating usage rules. The “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show alone cost ABC $395,000 for a 2018 skit.

Presidential Alert System

The Presidential Alert System was passed by Congress during the Obama administration in 2015. It allows the Federal Emergency Management Administration to issue alerts from the commander-in-chief during a national emergency.

Roughly 225 million Americans received a text that day saying, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

However, many people, particularly those who oppose Trump’s administration, were hysterical at the idea that Trump could push alerts to their phones.

(RELATED: Fallout 76 Has Fun With Donald Trump’s Presidential Alert Test!)

Jimmy Kimmel Live

On the same day the first test was sent, Kimmel’s show ran a skit mocking an announcement that Pres. Donald Trump would be the first to test the new system.

(RELATED: Johnny Carson Warned Against Getting Political on Late Night)

Calling the Obama-era system a “terrible idea,” Kimmel then aired the skit that violated FCC rules.

Emergency Alert System

For decades now, Americans learned through frequent testing over the airwaves what an emergency alert tone sounds like. In the age of cell phones, the alerts adopted a unique tone meant to get people’s attention.

After all, it is meant for emergencies. If you haven’t experienced the alert tone, it will scare the bejeesus out of the calmest among us.

As an alert system, reserving the specific tones for real emergencies and tests of the system ensures Americans won’t be desensitized to them. The FCC treats the EAS with appropriate seriousness, unlike Jimmy Kimmel.

“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,” a statement from the FCC said. “The FCC may issue sanctions for such violations, including, but not limited to, monetary forfeitures.”

FCC fines

ABC acknowledged they misused the attention signal tones in the skit.

“ABC takes regulatory compliance seriously and we are pleased to have resolved this issue,” a statement from the network said.

Other networks also received fines

AMC, which improperly used the tones in an episode of “The Walking Dead,” was fined $104,000. Animal Planet’s “Lone Star Law” cost the Discovery network $68,000 for using a wireless emergency alert tone.

Muerelo Radio Holdings was fined $67,000 for airing the EAS signal during promotions for its stations in Southern California.

Hawaii Nuclear Attack Scare

It’s important for the FCC to drive home the point that EAS signals are not for casual use.

People take the sounds and alerts seriously as we saw last year when an EAS alert was sent by mistake.

On January 13, 2018, Hawaiians spent their Saturday morning in terror and panic as they received a ballistic missile warning.

The alert read:


The alert turned out to thankfully be a catastrophic mistake. But it scared a lot of people.

Emergency alerts are serious business and hopefully, the serious fines teach a lesson to everyone using them for fun.

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