On Friday subscribers of AT&T’s Uverse Cable service in many markets found their systems in “Emergency Alert” mode due to an erroneous triggering of EAS.
Affected viewers had their televisions locked on a local network affiliate with a banner stating “This is an Emergency Action Notification. Your channel has been force tuned to receive the Emergency Alert Message”. The only thing supposed to trigger such an alert is a national emergency. And it was triggered once before during a national EAS test on November 9, 2011.
Which bring us back to Friday and the Bobby Bones Show. During a segment discussing an EAS test that went off during Game 2 of the World Series somebody made the mistake of playing a YouTube clip of the 2011 national test over the air. That led to the affiliates of his show that are EAS primary stations like his flagship 97.9 WSIX Nashville, in their market to send the alerts out. Thankfully most of the other broadcasters had that outdated timestamp in the audio not trigger the warning unlike AT&T.
A statement from FEMA read, “This morning, there was an inappropriate playing of the national emergency alert notification tones on a syndicated radio broadcast. Certain alerts, like the one broadcast today, are designed to be automatically picked up and rebroadcasted by other radio and TV station. FEMA and the FCC are currently working with broadcasters to determine the full scope of the situation.”
As discussed at the RadioInsight Community, a few broadcaters have already been hit with fines from the FCC for including EAS tones in their broadcasts. Many cable networks were issued a total of $1.9 million in fines for airing a commercial for the movie “Olympus Has Fallen” in March 2013 which inadvertently included the EAS tones. iHeartMedia will likely be hit with the same for whichever affiliates of Bones triggered the warnings.