FCC fines networks for wrongly using emergency alert system

NEW YORK — Jimmy Kimmel has learned an expensive lesson: don’t mess with the government’s emergency alert system.

Kimmel’s network, ABC, was one of four media organizations fined by the Federal Communications Commission this week for improper use of the emergency signal that is sent over television, radio and mobile phones to warn people of danger like floods and fires. The $395,000 fine to ABC was by far the stiffest.

FCC rules prohibit the use of the signal for any purpose other than an actual emergency. The idea is to prevent confusion, the agency said Friday.

Kimmel used the signal three times as part of a skit on his show on Oct. 3, 2018. ABC has signed a consent decree agreeing to pay the fine and promising not to improperly use the emergency tones again.

AMC network agreed to pay a $104,000 fine for improper use of the signal in an episode of its most popular show, “The Walking Dead,” in February, the FCC said.

Discovery’s Animal Planet was fined $68,000 when an actual emergency signal sent to a mobile phone was picked up by cameras during a filming session for its show, “Lone Star Law.” The show was filming Texas game wardens making rescues in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Los Angeles radio stations KDAY and KDEY were fined $67,000 for using the signal in show promotions.

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