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Phone Call Broadcast Garners WKQI $8,000 Fine

Phone Call Broadcast Garners WKQI $8,000 Fine

The FCC believes Clear Channel-owned WKQI(FM), Detroit is apparently liable for $8,000 for airing a phone call without first getting consent. The case concerns a volunteer who answered phones for the Word of Faith International Christian Center. A jock called the center in January of this year. According to the commission, the volunteer was suspicious the call was a prank, but offered a prayer anyway. A Word of Faith supervisor monitored the call. After the call ended, a member who was listening to the station told Word of Faith that the jock said he was going to call the hotline.
Clear Channel told the commission the jock involved no longer works at the station and no current employee of WKQI could recall the incident. The group owner also told the agency it has no records of the program, and cannot confirm or deny whether the incident occurred. Clear Channel also argued the complaint was made by a third party with no direct knowledge of whether the hotline volunteer had consented to the call being aired.
Word of Faith provided a statement by the volunteer saying the jock didn’t identify the call was from a station or that the conversation was being aired or recorded for future broadcast. The volunteer states he didn’t consent to the call being aired.
The FCC requires licensees to inform parties their conversation may be broadcast before the recording begins to respect an individuals’ privacy and dignity.
The commission said a licensee cannot avoid liability for a rule violation “by claiming ignorance as to what was broadcast over its station.”
While the base fine for this violation is $4,000, the agency cited WKQI for $8,000 based on the entire record of this case, and the “history of multiple violations” for this rule by parent company Clear Channel.
The station has 30 days to either pay the fine, or ask that it be reduced or rescinded.