The companies got into trouble after they ran ads for FilmDistrict‘s 2013 thriller Olympus Has Fallen that include the distinctive Emergency Alert System warning sounds, the FCC says today as it proposed what it calls the largest ever penalties for its misuse (watch the ad below). Viacom will be hit hardest with a $1.12M fine for airing the ad 108 times over five days on Spike, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, MTV2, Centric, and BET. NBCUniversal will have to cough up $530,000 for running the ad 38 times over six days on Syfy, USA, and five regional sports networks. And ESPN follows with $280,000 for running the ad 13 times over four days on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNEWS. “The FCC has long prohibited the transmission of actual or simulated EAS Attention Signals or tones in circumstances other than a real alert or an authorized test of the EAS system,” the FCC says. The cable companies said that the rules don’t apply to them because they don’t participate in the EAS program, the FCC notice notes. The government agency counters that the rules governing the use of the attention-grabbing tones apply to everyone. Viacom also said that the ad didn’t intend to deceive and that it didn’t have fair notice that it could be fined for non-deceptive use of the tones. But the FCC says that the rule “does not provide or suggest that having intent to deceive is required, nor does it excuse ‘dramatic’ uses; rather the rule provides that transmission of these emergency sounds or simulations thereof is simply prohibited in ‘any circumstance’ except when an actual emergency or authorized test warrants their use.”
Here’s the ad that caused the companies so much trouble:
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.