ABC Fined $400,000 By FCC over Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Trump Presidential Alerts’ Joke

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 19: TV host Jimmy Kimmel walks onstage at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards Nominations held at the Television Academy's Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre on July 19, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel has cost the network nearly $400,000 in fines after he mimicked a presidential alert on his nightly ABC show Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Federal Communications Commission confirmed.

Last October, Jimmy Kimmel Live featured a skit mocking the presidential alert system. The skit saw a family opposed to President Donald Trump receive multiple messages directly to their phones.

The skit was broadcast hours after the real Presidential Alert’ trial, designed to warn people of major threats such as missile attacks, natural disasters, and terrorism, was rolled out nationwide.

As part of last year’s trial, over 225 million phones received a test “Presidential Alert” notification, which read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

In a short statement, the FCC Enforcement Bureau confirmed that it had “[reached] settlements with a TV broadcaster, cable TV networks, and a radio broadcaster for misusing Emergency Alert System (EAS) or Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) tones.”

Under FCC rules, broadcasters are prohibited from mimicking the warning system “to avoid confusion when the tones are used, alert fatigue among listeners, and false activation.”

ABC admitted to the charges, but said in a statement they believed that the “use of the tone was permissible.” They added that they take “regulatory compliance seriously and we are pleased to have resolved this issue.”

Jimmy Kimmel’s show was not the only program found guilty of such misuse. AMC’s The Walking Dead was also fined $104,000 for using simulated EAS tones in two scenes in February, while the television series Lone Star Law also misused the emergency alert system tone, costing its parent company Animal Planet a penalty of $68,000.

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