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FCC Proposes $272,000 Fine Against CBS for ‘Young Sheldon’ Alleged Emergency Tone Misuse

The Federal Communications Commission continues to crack down on misuse of the Emergency Alert System tone on television.

The government agency has proposed a $272,000 fine against CBS Broadcasting for allegedly airing a simulated emergency alert tone during a nationally televised episode of “Young Sheldon” on April 12, 2018.

The episode “included a sound effect accompanying a tornado warning, which the producers modified, but still audibly resembled actual EAS tones,” said the FCC in a release regarding the proposed fine.

A source close to the situation says that the tone on the episode, used in the context of a story line involving a tornado warning, was deliberately altered and played behind dialogue so as to avoid viewer confusion.

CBS declined to comment.

The agency said that CBS’ modifications to the EAS tones were still not permissible because the tones used in the episode of “Young Sheldon” were “substantially similar” to actual EAS tones. An enforcement advisory from the FCC last month reiterated that broadcasting actual or simulated EAS tones during non-emergencies and outside of testing periods is an FCC violation and “serious public safety concern.”

In August, the FCC reached settlements with ABC, AMC, Discovery and Meruelo Radio Holdings for misusing the Emergency Alert System or Wireless Emergency Alert tones on episodes of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, “The Walking Dead”,” “Lone Star Law,” and KDAY and KDEY-FM’s radio shows, issuing civil penalties collectively totaling more than $600,000.

CBS will be given an opportunity to response to the proposed action, known as a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forefeiture, according to the FCC. The agency will then consider the submission of evident and legal arguments before making any further decisions.

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