UPDATED with details: Another hit show is in the FCC’s crosshairs over misuse of the Emergency Alert System’s tone. The federal regulator today proposed a $272,000 fine against CBS’ Young Sheldon for using a simulated version of the distinctive warning sound.
“On April 12, 2018, CBS transmitted an episode of Young Sheldon via at least 227 television stations, including 15 of CBS’s owned-and-operated television stations,” the FCC said in a release. “The episode included a sound effect accompanying a tornado warning, which the producers modified, but still audibly resembled actual EAS tones.”
It added: “The FCC found that CBS’s modifications to the EAS tones did not make broadcasting such tones permissible because the audio elements used in the episode were substantially similar to the actual EAS tones.” Read today’s FCC Notice of Apparent Liability here.
CBS declined comment.
In the Season 1 episode titled “A Mother, A Child, and a Blue Man’s Backside,” Missy (Raegan Revord) is watching the classic “duck season/rabbit season” Looney Tunes short and is annoyed when a tornado-watch alert interrupts it. According to a source familiar with the situation, the scene used a muffled, background sound that was altered to balance the authenticity of a family’s reaction to a severe-weather event and the FCC’s rules against the misuse of the EAS tones.
The regulator said today that “CBS will be given an opportunity to respond and the FCC will consider their submission of evidence and legal arguments before acting further to resolve the matter.”
Just last month, the communications board slapped hefty fines on three TV shows and a radio company for their misuse of the Emergency Alert System or Wireless Emergency Alert tones.
ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! and AMC’s The Walking Dead were hit with six-figure penalties — $395,000 and $104,000, respectively — while Animal Planet’s Lone Star Law ($68,000) and the parent company of two Los Angeles radio stations ($67,000) drew less hefty fines. All four also committed to what the feds called “a strict compliance plan to ensure such actions do not recur.”
Young Sheldon, the Big Bang Theory spinoff prequel starring Iain Armitage as the childhood version of Sheldon Cooper, returns for its third season on September 26.