Craig Karmazin’s WKNR(AM) Cleveland OH, licensed to his Good Karma Broadcasting LLC, has fallen afoul of the FCC’s broadcast contest rules and is liable for a punitive forfeiture. The station got into trouble when a contest languished for 20 months without producing a winner.
The station, which operates with a Sports format and carries an affiliation with ESPN Radio, was running a contest called “Who Said That” in which a mystery voice is played over the air and station listeners get a chance to win prizes by responding correctly over the phone or via email.
The key rules were broadcast, and a more detailed set of rules was available on the station’s website.
Things changed in the contest to identify the final clip in the contest. From the fall of 2007 until the contest’s conclusion 9/4/09 nobody was able to claim the prize. The station kept adding prizes to the pot. However, some of the prizes were no longer available due to the passage of time. But the station never noted this fact on air. The fact that the rules as posted on the web noted that some prizes may be replaced with others due to unavailability at the time of awarding was deemed not to remedy the fact that this was never announced over the air.
Even the fact that WKNR(AM) replaced the prizes with others of equal value was deemed insufficient to remedy the situation.
FCC noted, “Licensees, as public trustees, have the affirmative obligation to prevent the broadcast of false, misleading or deceptive contest announcements,33 and to conduct their contests substantially as announced.
Discussing the nature of the prizes and Good Karma’s defense, the FCC said, “The Licensee also asserts that the nature of certain prizes implied that they would no longer be available, thereby relieving the Station of the requirement to provide clarifying information. We disagree. The nature, extent, and value of the prizes, substituted or otherwise, could not be self-evident to listeners absent a full announcement, and they were not evident to the Complainant. Furthermore, licensees have the affirmative obligation to prevent misleading announcements respecting the contests that they conduct. They cannot rely on implications to accomplish that result.”
The upshot is a $4K fine.