Radio station fined for storm chase tour commercial

Photo of storm chasers observing a storm

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined the owners of Niles, Michigan radio station WTRC-FM $46,000 for a violation connected to a commercial for a storm chasing tour service.

The radio station admitted that in April, 2013, it broadcast the commercial, which included the sounds of Emergency Alert System (EAS) tones. according to an FCC consent decree. After an investigation, the FCC concluded that the commercial violated a federal law that prohibits the transmission of false signals of distress and an  FCC rule that prohibits the transmission of EAS codes or attention signals except during actual emergencies or tests.

In the consent decree, the FCC writes that it received a complaint about the commercial from an employee of the National Weather Service (NWS), after the NWS received a number of calls about the commercial from members of the general public. Callers to the NWS reportedly  expressed concern that the ad minimized or defeated the importance of true EAS activations.

In exchange for the fine and the radio station’s agreement to implement a compliance plan, the FCC agreed to terminate its investigation into the incident. The FCC approved the agreement Dec. 10. You can read the entire consent decree online.

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