The FCC entered into a settlement late last month with TEGNA, Inc. (“TEGNA”) for $55,000. The case erupted after TEGNA used Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) tones in its television ad promoting the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team.  The advertisement at issue opened with EAS tones along with sounds of gusting winds and thunder claps, and aired four times over three days prior to being pulled.

The EAS is a national public warning system used to deliver emergency information to targeted areas. According to the FCC, it enforces laws prohibiting use of the tones except in emergency situations or authorized tests in order to preserve the effectiveness of these emergency tones, and avoid the risk of desensitizing the public.

Takeaway: In addition to complying with truth in advertising laws, advertisers may be subject to the purview of the FCC.  Advertisers should take caution when using sounds or symbols that are typically associated with emergency situations.