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FCC proposes $504,000 fine for Fox TV over fake emergency alert

A video package played before a game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles on Fox TV network in 2021 violated Federal Communications Commission rules, says the FCC. File Photo by Laurence Kesterson/UPI
A video package played before a game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles on Fox TV network in 2021 violated Federal Communications Commission rules, says the FCC. File Photo by Laurence Kesterson/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- A video promotion aired before a game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles on the Fox TV network in 2021 violated federal rules about mimicking an emergency alert, the FCC said Tuesday in proposing a $504,000 fine.

Prior to kickoff on Nov. 28, 2021, Fox Broadcasting Co. aired a video package that included the emergency alert system tone and mimicked an emergency broadcast. Sounding or simulating an EAS alert in the absence of an actual emergency is prohibited.

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The FCC proposed a $504,000 fine for Fox in a notice released Tuesday.

Only federal, state and local emergency agencies are permitted to issue an EAS tone.

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The FCC enforces a strict EAS tone rule out of concern over what it calls "alert fatigue."

"The Commission has warned that the use of simulated or actual EAS Tones for non-authorized purposes -- such as commercial or entertainment purposes -- can lead to "alert fatigue," whereby the public becomes desensitized to the alerts, questioning or simply disregarding whether a particular alert is intended to warn about a real, imminent threat or some other cause," the FCC said in its notice.

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Sounding an unauthorized EAS tone also may inadvertently activate emergency systems, be used to spread misinformation or "lock out" an actual emergency broadcast.

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The video in question opened with grainy video of Eagles players running onto the field with a text scroll and voiceover issuing a "warning" to the team's division rivals New York, Dallas and Washington. In the lower-third, the screen read "THIS IS A FOX EMERGENCY ALERT!"

Philadelphia lost 13-7 to New York in that game and finished 9-8 on the season.

The video package was broadcast to 18 stations owned and operated by Fox. The FCC determined this constitutes a base forfeiture of $144,000. It adjusted the fine upward because of Fox's culpability and the purpose of the video being for economic gain at the expense of the "integrity of the EAS."

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