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FCC Calls Listener Residency Irrelevant in WIP Chicken Wing Contest Appeal

'Wing Bowl 13' entrant had complained

The Federal Communications Commission this week upheld a $4,000 fine against CBS-owned WIP(AM) in Philadelphia for not clearly disclosing the terms of a contest and — in effect — changing the terms.

The case goes back to last July when the commission originally levied the fine, saying then that WIP violated a rule when it disqualified a contest winner and revoked the prize.

“Wing Bowl 13” victor Arnie Chapman was a member of the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters, a competitor to the Independent Federation of Competitive Eating, the group “historically associated with the prize,” said the FCC in its decision this week. He complained to the commission in 2005, saying the station didn’t announce members of competitive eating groups weren’t qualified to win. That’s was when the FCC began reviewing the contest; it agreed with Chapman earlier about that point.

CBS argued that the commission’s contest rule only protect those in a station’s listening area, and since Chapman lives outside that area, the rule would not pertain in this case.

The FCC this week rejected that argument, saying CBS misinterprets the rule. “The contest rule is designed to protect the general public from false, misleading or deceptive licensee-conducted and advertised contests, and does not preclude any member of the public from filing a complaint if they have information establishing that a contest rule violation has occurred.” The rule does not limit the term “audience” to those residing within a coverage contour, the FCC noted.