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SBE Raises Alert About EAS Tones in Ad

TV trailer for ‘Skyline’ uses tones that could trip network

There’s word of another ad using what sounds like an EAS tone — this time a television spot.

Engineers notified Radio World that a promo for the movie “Skyline,” which opens on Friday contained what sounded like EAS tones throughout the spot. One engineer provided me with a clip of the national ad that he said aired on a New York television station.

Although the ad has reportedly been pulled locally, sources say it’s not clear if the national ad has been taken off the air everywhere and SBE suggests TV stations check their inventory for this spot. No such radio ad has been heard to date. Either way, the subject provides a “teachable moment” about EAS.

Tom Ray, VP/Corporate Director of Engineering for Buckley/WOR in New York, tells me that while he wasn’t able to decode the data stream, Barry Thomas was.

Ray, who is also chairman of SBE Chapter 15 in New York City, says the ad was illegal, according to Part 11 of FCC regulations, which prohibit deceptive EAS transmissions:

“No person may transmit or cause to transmit the EAS codes or Attention Signal, or a recording or simulation thereof, in any circumstance other than in an actual National, State or Local Area emergency or authorized test of the EAS. Broadcast station licensees should also refer to §73.1217 of this chapter.”

Lincoln Financial’s Media’s Barry Thomas told SBE engineers in an e-mail, shared with me, that he was able to decode the data. Barry believes it was a replay of a Required Monthly Test that covered central Pennsylvania.

“If this was decoded and forwarded automatically in, for example Harrisburg, Pa., the station could be left open for two minutes with the contributing station’s audio. This is the very definition of an illegal use of EAS tones,” he stated on the SBE’s website.

The SBE issued an alert to its members about the ad, stating that there was no End of Message signal transmitted.

It wasn’t that long ago that we reported about an Arco ad that used what sounded like simulated EAS tones. And why is it illegal to use a simulation of an EAS alert — because you don’t want to confuse, or possibly panic, the public.