Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

FCC Enforcement Monitor — FCC Proposes fines for contest violations; fine for unlicensed operation and interference; and more

By Paul A Cicelski and Carly A Deckelboim

Late last month, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Enforcement Bureau issued two essentially identical notices of apparent liability for forfeiture (NALs) against two radio station licensees for failure to conduct a contest as advertised. Although the stations have different licensees, one licensee provided programming to the second licensee’s station through a time brokerage agreement. The brokering station’s response to a letter of inquiry (LOI) addressed both licensees’ actions with regard to the contest. In the subsequent NALs, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau proposed a $4,000 (£2,369) fine against the brokered licensee and an $8,000 fine against the brokering licensee.

In July of 2009, the FCC received a complaint that several radio stations held a weekly contest called ‘Par 3 Shoot Out’ but did not conduct the contest substantially as announced or advertised. Specifically, the complaint maintained that at least one participant did not receive a promised prize of a golf hat and was not entered into a draw to win a car or other prizes (as was promised in the contest’s rules). About four months later, the FCC issued an LOI to the licensee conducting the contest about the claims made in the complaint. In its response to the LOI, the licensee conducting the contest indicated that the contest consisted of two phases. The first was an 18-week online golf competition where the highest-scoring contestant each week would win a hat from a golf club. Each weekly winner and one write-in contestant would be able to participate in the second phase of the contest, a real golf competition consisting of taking one shot at a three-par hole. As was publicised online, the prize for the winner of the second phase was a $350 golf store gift certificate, and if anyone hit a hole in one they would win a Lexus car…

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