Univision Radio had a plan in place to deter employees from “engaging in conduct that violates the commission’s sponsorship identification laws” — to use the official terminology from an agreement reached this week with the feds — but it has agreed to adopt a new plan within 60 days and to keep that effort in place for three years.
We reported the changes are part of its settlements with both the FCC and the Justice Department this week that end parallel, four-year payola investigations.
The list of gifties that are still allowed is interesting to anyone who has worked at a radio station.
Univision employees still may solicit, receive and accept promotional items, gift cards, CDs, gift certificates, concert tickets, airfare, hotel rooms, vouchers and cash, from record labels to give away on the air, or at a station event or to benefit charity. When one of their artists debuts a new song, the labels can give a station up to 20 CDs, as well as promotional items intended for the personal use of company parties, such as T-shirts, key chains, coffee mugs, baseball hats, posters, pens and bumper stickers, as long as the value of each item doesn’t exceed $25.
Univision employees per station may accept up to 20 concert tickets and/or backstage passes in association with promoting a new release from an artist. Employees working at the concert, like engineers or on-air talent, aren’t counted toward that limit, but their participation must be disclosed.
Record labels may give a “modest gift” with an up to $150 value to a station employee to celebrate “life events, professional achievements and holidays.” An example would be a gold record plaque. That $150 limit per-person, per-event holds for meals and entertainment expenses that labels can bestow on station employees (though if I turned in a $150 receipt for one meal for reimbursement, I’d have some ‘splainin’ to do.)
Labels may pay “reasonable travel and lodging expenses,” meaning a coach class airfare, train or car service and lodging for business purposes for up to 20 employees per station per year.
So while there are new limits and checking-up on all of these gifties that station employees may accept from record labels, this can still be a pretty sweet deal if you’re working at a station.
Granted, at most of the commercial music stations I’ve worked at, the jocks got first dibs on all of this stuff; news folk got what was leftover — and engineers got what was left after that, if anything.
I will admit to occasionally “liberating” suntan lotion and six-packs of Coke from the prize closet of a certain beach station I worked at. Our rationale was that we were paid so little, the company “owed” us.
We knew enough to leave the boogie boards alone, however.