ESPN hit with $20,000 fine from FCC over 2020 re-airing of 'Roll Tide/War Eagle' documentary
ESPN has been hit with a $20,000 fine from the FCC over an October 2020 re-airing of the “Roll Tide/War Eagle” documentary, according to George Winslow of tvtechnology.com.
The fine is for “willfully violating the Commission’s rules that prohibit the transmission of false or deceptive emergency alert system.” The EAS tone is heard in the documentary in a portion focusing on the April 27, 2011 tornadoes in Tuscaloosa.
According to the report, ESPN argued against the fine stating that the EAS tones could not have “triggered any automated relay equipment” as the “audio frequency-shift (AFSK) tones” were not included. The network said the EAS tone was included “for storytelling purposes,” but admitted ” the transmission was not part of any actual emergency or EAS test.”
The FCC rejected those arguments and proposed an “upward adjustment” amount of $12,000 in addition to the base fine of $8,000 for a violation of section 11.45 of the Commission’s rules covering violations of emergency alerts. One reason for the steeper penalty was that ESPN has been fined for violating the EAS rules in the past.
The documentary is referred to as a “30 for 30” in the TVTech report. Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing notes that the documentary originally aired in 2011 under the “ESPN Films Presents” banner but was later “rolled into” “30 for 30.”