Seems like Conan O’Brien’s crew is in some hot water with the FCC. Turner Broadcasting is being slapped with a hefty $25,000 fine by the Federal Communications Commission after a promotional gag for Conan last year. The promotion “used the emergency weather tones to gain attention for a commercial regarding Jack Black being on the show for April 26, 2012,” according to a report by the FCC. A viewer complaint tipped them off to the “transmission of false distress signals.”
If you’re wondering what the big deal is, the irritating high-pitched noise followed by bars and tone sound are part of the Emergency Alert System which are to be exclusively used to gain viewers’ attentions in the case of a weather emergency, such as Hurricane Sandy or a tornado warning. Obviously, if it were used by companies to get your attention for their commercial, we would probably not pay attention when a dangerous weather event is being announced.
Turner officials admitted, according to the FCC, that a promo included a similar “sound effect” from an online source, but that it was not part of the actual EAS code. They have 30 days to try to change the commission’s mind, but it appears like TBS will have to cough up the fine and pay better attention to their promos.
But to be fair, they were having Jack Black on as a guest, which if you hadn’t set your DVR yet, was kind of an emergency.