CBS ducks prank contest fine


After an airstaffer at KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh jokingly promised $1M to the 13th caller as a gag, the FCC hit owner CBS Radio with a $6K notice of apparent liability for a contest violation. Although CBS isn’t paying that amount as a fine, it is paying that amount under terms of a consent decree.

It was the contention of CBS that the person responsible for the on-air prank did it as an individual, and that nobody within the company’s management had any clue about it. Therefore, it was not a violation of any contest rules, as there were no licensee-generated rules to violate.

Rather than continue to litigate the matter within the halls of the FCC or in any other manner, the two sides have agreed to settle under the usual consent decree terms. CBS admits no guilt and no violation goes into its permanent record; it undertakes a compliance plan to avoid similar mishaps in the future; it submits to reporting conditions; and it makes a voluntary $6K contribution to the US Treasury.

RBR-TVBR observation: We continue to be amazed when individuals in the biz think it is so funny to set up one of their loyal listeners only to knock them down with phony promises. Playing your audience for fools is no way to run a healthy local business. While we do not doubt that CBS management had nothing to do with this, we hope they appropriately reprimanded the individual responsible, and the company should consider itself lucky it got out of this with minimal damage done to its regulatory reputation within the FCC.