Fake Emergency Alert System Warning in ‘Conan’ Promo Gets TBS in Trouble With FCC

Nov 6, 2013  •  Post A Comment

TBS is facing a fine from the Federal Communications Commission after the network used a fake Emergency Alert System alarm during an ad for "Conan," B&C reports.

The FCC Enforcement Bureau Acting Chief Robert H. Radcliffe said the proposed $25,000 fine sends a "strong message." He added, "It is inexcusable to trivialize the sounds specifically used to notify viewers of the dangers of an incoming tornado or to alert them to be on the lookout for a kidnapped child, merely to advertise a talk show or a clothing store."

Radcliffe added that such fake alerts are in "clear violation of the law."

Turner said the promo was produced under a tight deadline and that it wasn’t submitted to standards and practices, B&C notes. That is now standard procedure for similar "Conan" promos, the piece adds.

While the regular fine for such violations is $8,000, the FCC increased it because the ad was aired in both the East and West Coast feeds, indicating a willful and repeated violation, the story says.


  1. The FCC licenses TV stations, not cable channels. By what authority do they propose to fine a cable channel? See Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction. The FCC fine was imposed on the CBS owned-and-operated stations, not the affiliates.

  2. Don’t care really about such minutiae as the above: to use an emergency broadcast signal for an ad is careless and foolish and should be fined. In the midwest during tornado season, for example, they’ve enough problems getting people to listen to warnings. To further cheapen the whole system and train people to further ignore it for the sake of frigging television show commercials is just asinine. It should be nipped in the bud. If the FCC doesn’t have the “power” to impose a fine, I, as a member of the viewing public would gladly allow them to do so.

  3. They may not license Cable stations, but FCC’s Cable Bureau enforces FCC rules part 76, which regulate everything from Closed Captioning and EAS to commercial audio loudness and Children’s programming, along with many pages of other aspects of “multi-Program Service Providers” operations.

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