The Federal Communications Commission has settled with AMC and other networks over their misuse of Emergency Alert System tones, Broadcasting Cable reports.
A collective $600,000 in civil penalties will be collected from the offenders, including AMC's The Walking Dead and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live. Cabler AMC has agreed to pay $104,000 after The Walking Dead aired the EAS tone "twice in February 2019 on eight separate occasions," according to Broadcasting Cable.
AMC in February premiered The Walking Dead Season 9 episode "Omega," which opened with the alert tone as part of a flashback set 23 days into the zombie apocalypse. The episode acted as an origin story for Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton), whose family was hunkered down with other survivors in a Baltimore shelter when emergency services were still available.
"The EAS is a national public warning system through which broadcasters, cable television operators, wireless cable operators, wireline video service providers, satellite digital audio radio service providers, and direct broadcast satellite providers (EAS Participants) supply communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency," the FCC said in an enforcement advisory notice published Thursday.
"Federal, state, and local authorities may also use the EAS to deliver important emergency information, such as weather information and AMBER alerts targeted to specific areas. The Commission takes seriously its role in safeguarding the EAS and WEA systems, as they are critical, life-saving components of our nation's public safety communications infrastructure. As we act to protect the integrity of the EAS and WEA systems, we remain diligent in protecting against the misuse of the EAS codes and the EAS and WEA Attention Signals."
The notice adds the use of simulated or actual EAS codes for non-authorized purposes, such as entertainment, can lead to confusion or "'alert fatigue,' whereby the public becomes desensitized to the alerts, leading people to ignore potentially life-saving warnings and information."
Additionally, the misuse of simulated or actual EAS tones could lead to "false activations" of the system, which can "spread false information and can lock out legitimate activations" of the alert, posing a "substantial threat to public safety."
It was reported earlier this month AMC was issued a bill for $74,000 for damages made to the city of Manor, Texas during filming on spinoff Fear the Walking Dead. The Walking Dead returns to AMC with its Season 10 premiere Sunday, October 6.