The feds may have wiped the smile off late-night funnyman Jimmy Kimmel’s face — fining the network that airs his talk show a hefty $395,000 for his use of restricted emergency tones in a comedy sketch.
“ABC admits that it broadcast and transmitted the Oct. 3, 2018, episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” that contained [Wireless Emergency Alert] Tones, in the absence of an actual emergency, authorized test of the EAS, or qualified PSA,“ The Federal Communications Commission said in a 10-page ruling dated Thursday, referring to the emergency alert system and public service announcements.
An episode of the show featured emergency tones in a bit mocking a test of the presidential alert system.
The emergency alert system tone precedes a verbal warning and is sent out on TV and cellphones in the event of an actual emergency, like a tornado, flood or hurricane.
The feds restrict use of the tones to prevent panic and confusion, and so that goofballs like Kimmel won’t use them for laughs.
Kimmel’s skit came hours after cell phones across the US had received a presidential alert that raised eyebrows about its intent, with civil libertarians speculating that it was somehow the test of a supposedly nefarious government effort to control the country’s telecommunication system.
“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed,” the test warning said.
AMC’s “The Walking Dead” also got slapped with a $104,000 fine for using the restricted tones twice in February.
Animal Planet was fined $68,000 for a misuse of the tone in “Lone Star Law.”
The FEC scolded the malefactors in the document, signed by Rosemary Harold, chief of the enforcement divisions.
“The Commission has repeatedly warned that the use of simulated or actual EAS Tones for non-authorized purposes — such as commercial or entertainment purposes — can lead to dangerous ‘alert fatigue’ whereby the public becomes desensitized to the alerts, questioning whether the alerts are for a real, imminent threat,” it read.
The companies have 30 days to pay up to the US Treasury.
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