A contest conducted on the websites of radio stations in the Clear Channel Los Angeles cluster in early 2008 attracted complaints, not the least of which was that the contest was rigged in favor of a person with a connection to a CC employee. Clear Channel was not found liable on that charge, but did run into other problems resulting in a notice of apparent liability for $22K.
The contest challenged participants to create their own video commercial for Chevrolet automobiles and posting them on Clear Channel websites. The winner would receive a Chevy.
The stations involved in the contest were KFI-AM, KOST-FM, KHHT-FM, KBIG-FM, KYSR-FM & KIIS-FM.
Clear Channel failed in its attempt to get the entire proceeding tossed on grounds that the contest was conducted on the internet, not on the radio stations. The fact that the contest was promoted on all of the radio stations was enough to invoke FCC precedent, which is that it still counts as a broadcast contest. The fact that there were insufficient broadcast announcements about contest rules was strike one.
Strike two was ambiguity about the duration of the contest. Video submissions were taken starting 2/11/08, but one set of rules made it appear that the deadline was 3/21/08. Another suggested that the deadline was 3/10/08, with judges stepping in to determine a winner beginning 3/12/08 and ending 3/21/08. That inconsistency was strike two.
There was no strike three, at least. Even though Clear Channel admitted that a friend of an employee happened to win, the FCC acknowledged that there was no evidence that the contest was rigged.
A contest rules violation is good for $4K, said the FCC. Given Clear Channel’s size, wealth and the fact that six stations were involved caused it to bump the penalty up to $22K.