The FCC has proposed a $504,000 fine against Fox Corporation for a promotional spot aired across some radio stations that misappropriated emergency alert system (EAS) tones.
The spot, which aired in November 2021, was initially developed to promote Fox Sports and its coverage of the National Football League (NFL) on Fox television stations, but a version that contained the EAS tones also ran on iHeartRadio stations and the Fox Sports SiriusXM channel, according to a notice of apparent liability and forfeiture published by the FCC on Tuesday.
The promotion apparently violated an internal policy at Fox that forbids using EAS tones in promotions and on-air segments, with no nexus to an actual emergency or system test. Still, the FCC said, the segment passed through several post-production checks, and did not raise any red flags internally, which paved the way for it to be aired on television and radio stations across the country.
In this case, it did not appear the promotion triggered an actual EAS broadcast on any stations. The FCC also said Fox disclosed the problematic promo in an email to the agency shortly after it aired.
Still, the FCC said Fox should pay $144,000 for the promo running on 18 Fox-owned TV stations, and another $360,000 for broadcasting the promo on over 190 Fox affiliated TV stations, the Fox Sports radio network and the Fox Sports SiriusXM channel. The agency said Fox didn’t get points for disclosing the issue in an email, because disclosure of violating the agency’s rules on EAS tones is mandatory, not optional.
“This was not a minor violation,” an official with the FCC said in its notice published on Tuesday. The agency affirmed Fox should be able to pay the proposed fine because its quarterly revenue for the period in which the promotion aired was over $4.4 billion.
A spokesperson for Fox has not yet returned a request seeking comment.
The fine against Fox is just the latest example of the FCC enforcing its rules regarding EAS tones against broadcasters who apparently violate them. In late 2021, the FCC proposed a $20,000 fine against Disney’s ESPN for using the tones in a news magazine segment; six years earlier, iHeartRadio was hit with a proposed fine of $1 million after the tones aired during a segment produced by The Bobby Bones Show.