Payola Issue Heats Up At News of Sony Settlement

Payola Issue Heats Up At News of Sony Settlement
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An FCC commissioner and a member of Congress have called for the payola issue to be addressed on a national scale. They were responding to the news that Sony BMG Music agreed to pay $10 million and stop paying radio employees to feature Sony artists, settling a year-long investigation by New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer.
Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, a Democrat, has renewed his call for a payola investigation. So did Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who introduced a bill in 2003 that would address alleged linkage between payola, stations and concert venues. Spitzer also intends to turn over his information to the FCC.
Spitzer said his investigation showed Sony paid for vacation packages and electronics for radio programmers; paid for contest giveaways for listeners; and hired independent promoters to pay stations for more airplay for Sony artists, the Associated Press reported. Spitzer said e-mails showed that executives were aware of the practices, according to the account. Sony did not immediately have a comment, the AP reported.
Other radio groups that have been subpoenaed by Spitzer include Infinity, Cox Radio, Emmis, Entercom and Clear Channel.
Many radio groups have stopped their use of independent promoters in recent years to avoid the appearance of payola.

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During 2005, the issue of payola received more public attention than at any time since the "pay-for-play" record scandals of the late 1950s.