$2m in fines for movie trailer

Last updated 12:35 05/03/2014

FCC is proposing fines on three TV companies because they included Emergency Alert Service sounds in this movie commercial

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This is not a test - a US media regulator is proposing millions in fines against three media companies that aired a movie trailer that included tones from America's emergency alert service.

The Federal Communications Commission on Monday (local time) proposed a total of US$1.9 million (NZ$2.3 million) in fines against NBCUniversal, Viacom and ESPN for airing the trailer for last year's summer popcorn flick Olympus Has Fallen, which depicts a terrorist attack on the White House.

The 30-second commercial included tones from the Emergency Alert Service - most commonly used to warn Americans about extreme weather - as well as the words, "THIS IS NOT A TEST" and "THIS IS NOT A DRILL". 

"Misuse of EAS Tones raises serious public safety concerns," the FCC said. "Frivolous, casual, or other uses of EAS Tones for reasons other than their defined purpose can desensitize viewers to the tones and thereby undermine the effectiveness of the system in the event of an actual emergency."

The FCC received three complaints about the ads, including one from a viewer in Missouri who said one of their children "started to quickly get out of the bathtub thinking there was an emergency".

In the tornado-prone area, people are always on high alert for EAS tones, the complainant said.

Viacom told the Wall Street Journal it regretted running the ads and had changed its policies about similar commercials. ESPN and NBCUniversal told the Journal they were reviewing the FCC's notice. The companies have 30 days to pay the fine or file a response.

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- Fairfax Media


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