Craig Karmazin’s Good Karma Broadcasting was hit with a notice of apparent liability for a contest violation at its WKNR-AM in Cleveland. The company’s attempt to wriggle out of the fine has failed, and the NAL has moved on to a full-fledged forfeiture order.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, there is a relationship here – Craig is the son of SiriusXM honcho Mel Karmazin.
At issue is a segment featured on the station called “Who Said That?” in which a clip would be aired of an unidentified figure in the sporting world. Listeners had the opportunity to phone or email the station and win a prize with a correct identification.
One such segment failed to produce a winner for a period of 20 months, according to the FCC release.
For a time, the station announced what the prizes associated with the segment were once a week, but after a time only did so when prompted by a listener. With the passage of time, the station also planned to replace some no-longer-available prizes with replacements of equal value, but made no mention of this over the air.
Eventually, the FCC received a complaint that the station was running a “bogus” contest.
The FCC hit it with the standard contest violation fine of $4K.
Good Karma made several arguments. For one thing, it said the segment should not have been called a contest at all, but rather a “bit” – but the FCC said the existence of a prize put it squarely in the definition of a contest whether Good Karma thought of it that way or not, and made it subject to the rules governing contests.
The FCC said the lack of regular prize announcements was a violation; that the station shouldn’t have been relying on listener prompts to make such an announcement.
It said that while it was OK to substitute prizes of equal value for prizes no longer available, it was only OK if that possibility was announced as a rule of the contest.
Good Karma had also expressed its opinion to the FCC that some of the prizes offered for this segment were of such low value that they were “not as worthy of discussion,” but the FCC responded that there was no exemption for low-value prizes. And while Good Karma’s assertion that a station may award a greater prize than announced met with the FCC’s agreement, the FCC said it still must make regular announcements about prizes so listeners know that the station isn’t undercutting the value of the prizes.
In the end, the $4K fine stands and is now a forfeiture order.