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FCC Cites Production House for Misusing EAS Tones

Promo with the tones aired on SiriusXM

FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc has issued a citation and order to a radio production house for inserting EAS tones into a promotion that aired on SiriusXM last year.

The FCC continues to clamp down on misuse of EAS tones. Alerting authorities and the commission don’t want the public to become inured to hearing the tones; they want people to heed the warnings when necessary. Thus using the tones for anything other than an emergency or test is prohibited.

In the SiriusXM case, a listener complained, prompting a review. The satellite company provided a recording and transcript of the promo for the “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour.”

SM Radio Productions of Westin, Conn., produces the program but acquired the promo that began with the EAS tones from an independent contractor, according to a declaration by SiriusXM to the FCC. SM stated that one of its employees previewed the promotion before inserting it into the show, under the mistaken belief the tones were old and too brief (about a second and a half) to be of concern.

The promo aired six times last December.

It’s important to note that the agency regulates SiriusXM but not the production house. In order to do that, the commission must first issue a citation to such a company and then give that business the chance to respond.

In its decision, the commission finds SM to be at fault for knowingly inserting EAS tones into promotional material and then transmitting that to SiriusXM for retransmission. SM has 30 days to respond.

The bureau warns the production house that it will use all relevant material to determine what, if any, enforcement action is required. After receiving the citation, if the production house violates commission rules again, the agency can levy a fine. For misusing EAS tones, the base forfeiture is $8,000; other factors, such as the number of transmissions and whether an actual EAS activation is triggered, come into play and could increase the penalty.

Radio DJs: Stop. Crying. Wolf.