An agent of WXDJ-FM Miami called a woman and, pretending to be a hospital employee, drove her to the point of hysteria by telling her that the dead bodies of her husband and daughter were there. The woman was not notified that she was being recorded for subsequent broadcast, a violation of a long-standing FCC rule.
This incident has been bouncing back and forth between the FCC and SBS for some time now. The incident occurred 7/19/07.
SBS claims that the woman’s sister put the station up to the prank – such pranks were a regular part of the program – and the woman herself gave permission to broadcast the recording before it ever aired. The station subsequently ran it two times.
None of that mattered, according to the FCC – it still does not let the station off the hook for informing a phone call recipient that there is a possibility of broadcast at the very beginning of the conversation.
SBS made a number of arguments to at least lower the fine, including the novel approach that poor state of the “national economy and the decrease in broadcaster revenues in general” was reason to grant relief. The FCC noted that the only way to get relief would be to demonstrate, generally with tax returns, an inability to pay. But SBS is making enough money to pay the fine, and it stands for the full $16K amount.