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iHeart agrees to $1M fine due to Bones Show misdeed

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 – iHeart radio agreed to pay a $1 million fine to the Federal Communications Commission's for misuse of emergency alert system tones on the Bobby Bones Show on WSIX-FM in Nashville.

The company admits to misuse of EAS tones and agreed to a compliance and reporting plan as a result of airing a false emergency alert, according to an FCC statement.

The EAS is the national public warning system that is designed to provide timely and accurate alerts and warnings so that members of the public may act quickly to protect themselves and their families. Broadcasters, cable television operators and others are required to provide a method for authorities to address the public during a national or local emergency. "The FCC has long prohibited the transmission of actual or simulated EAS tones in circumstances other than a real alert or an authorized test," a press release said.

"The public counts on EAS tones to alert them to real emergencies," said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau. "Misuse of the emergency alert system jeopardizes the nation's public safety, falsely alarms the public and undermines confidence in the emergency alert system."

On Oct. 24, 2014, WSIX-FM aired a false emergency alert during the broadcast of the nationally-syndicated "The Bobby Bones Show." Broadcast or transmission of emergency tones outside an emergency or authorized test violates FCC regulations.

While commenting on an EAS test that aired during the 2014 World Series, Bones, the show's host, broadcast an EAS tone from a recording of an earlier nationwide EAS test. This false emergency alert was sent to more than 70 affiliated stations airing "The Bobby Bones Show" and resulted in some of these stations retransmitting the tones, setting off a multi-state cascade of false EAS alerts on radios and televisions in multiple states.

As part of the settlement, iHeart admits that its broadcasting of EAS tones during "The Bobby Bones Show" violated the FCC's EAS laws. The company is required to pay a civil penalty of $1 million and implement a comprehensive three-year compliance and reporting plan. They must remove or delete all simulated or actual EAS tones from the company's audio production libraries.

In the last six months, the Commission has taken five enforcement actions totaling nearly $2.5 million for misuse of EAS tones by broadcasters and cable networks.

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