Boston car contest blows a tire

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Well, not exactly, but the upshot of the deal is that the on-air promotions for a contest run in Boston on Greater Media AC powerhouse WMJX-FM did not match up with the rules for the contest printed on the website. The on-air announcements failed to even say where to find the complete set of rules.


Contestants called into the station to win a $106 gas card, a marketing tribute to the station’s 106.7 MHz dial position, and a chance at a car.

A contestant who entered based on the over-the-air description of the contest thought he had won his choice of one of the three cars: either a cool, hot or green car: a “cool” Mercedes Benz C Series Sedan, a ‘hot’ Audi TT Convertible, or a ‘green’ environmentally-friendly Toyota Prius.

But that’s not what the rules stated as printed on the stations website. What actually was being offered was a two-year lease on one of the three cars, and that was granted only if the contestant was eligible for financing on terms acceptable to the company providing the car.

Greater Media admitted the error and said it has taken remedial steps to prevent such an error from happening again. It also pleaded that “Notwithstanding the foregoing, Greater Boston contends that none of the Contest contestants were harmed, inconvenienced or ‘suffered any reliance damages based on any misunderstanding of the rules.’” It asked to be spared a fine and be hit with an admonishment instead.

Anybody familiar with the FCC’s traditional stance in such matters knows what happened next. The FCC said remedial efforts are expected, not rewarded and nailed the station for $4K.

RBR/TVBR observation: The moral of the story is that nobody expects a complete legal document when a contest is discussed over the air – but there are certain key facts that absolutely must be made known;. Remember, just one confused listener can result in one fined station.