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Contest Violations Get Two Stations Into Hot Water

Saga case indicates it is important to deliver goodies from your prize closet promptly

The Federal Communications Commission issued two interesting contest violation decisions Monday.

The commission upheld a $4,000 fine against Saga station WAQY(FM), Springfield, Mass. for a contest rules violation.

On July 17, 2005, Robert Naginewicz won a two-year lease on a Buick or its monetary equivalent and a “trunk load” of Aerosmith memorabilia. Naginewicz complained to the FCC that the station had promised him he would have the prizes by July 22; he saiad he did not receive the money until August and the memorabilia nearly seven months after the contest ended.

In this case, the station is being fined because it took too long to deliver one of the prizes to a contest winner, which violated the terms of the contest, according to the agency. The station did deliver the memorabilia after the complaint and said the delay was inadvertent, that its employees failed to follow up Naginewicz’ messages promptly. The station also said it awarded him more prizes than promised because they were late.

The FCC this week in its decision said its rules are clear that contest prizes must be awarded promptly and that the station is still responsible for the acts of its employees.

The other case involves WIP(AM) in Philadelphia. In August, we reported the FCC had upheld a fine against WIP for a contest violation; now the agency and the CBS-owned station have come to an agreement that they say resolves the matter.

According to the consent decree, the investigation is ended and the $4,000 fine cancelled; however, CBS Philadelphia is making a voluntary contribution in that same amount to the U.S. Treasury. CBS also agreed to create a compliance plan to explain the FCC’s contest rules to all programming employees.