The $1M settlement agreed to by Univision to bring an end to the pay-for-play case brought by parallel actions from the FCC and the DOJ affected both Univision Radio Inc. and Univision Music Group – and the guilty plea that resulted was for conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Univision Communications ultimately took responsibility for the situation, which it blamed on a small group of rogue employees.
DOJ outlined the case, saying “According to court documents, Univision Communications formerly owned Univision Music Group, a collection of entities that produced recordings and published music for the Latin music market. Univision Services admitted that executives, employees and agents of Univision Music Group conspired to commit and did commit mail fraud from approximately 2002 to September 2006. According to court documents, the mail fraud was related to a nationwide scheme in which Univision Music Group executives, employees and agents made illegal cash payments to radio station programmers and managers in exchange for increased radio broadcast time for Univision Music Group recordings. The cash payments were made without on-air acknowledgments or payment of broadcast fees to the radio stations, as required by law. According to court documents, executives, music promoters and agents of Univision Music Group used fraudulent contract invoices and payments to obtain and conceal the nature of the cash that funded the scheme.
According to reports, the stations involved were in California, New York and Texas.
The $1M is split between UMG, which is responsible for $500K; and URI, which also is responsible for $500K.
“Illegal cash payments never make for a good business model. Listeners have a right to know if someone has paid for increased air time or promotions,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “The Department of Justice will continue to work cooperatively with our partners at the FCC to ensure businesses operate within established laws and regulations.”