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John Garziglia

Does Hedberg Have a Case With the FCC Against CC?

While we want to be clear we are not offering legal advice or attempting to predict the outcome of a case we thought it would be a good idea to throw this one over to our "Ask The Attorney" writer John Garziglia. After reading the article he made the following comments. And, perhaps, this one just might come down to the agreement signed between Copperhead and Clear Channel. Does it matter if these were paid spots? What if no money exchanged hands between Copperhead and Clear Channel and this was a co-promotion? What station wouldn't want to be part of a promotion where a home was given away? Could the station be in to this deeper than it thinks. Here are Garziglia's comments.

"If only advertisements, then the FCC is unlikely to become involved.  On the other hand, if the radio stations were co-sponsoring the contest, Paula Hedberg may ultimately receive her satisfaction not from the courts, but from FCC actions against the broadcast licensees. Through the years, the FCC has strictly enforced Section 73.1216 of its rules which requires that a broadcast station licensee shall conduct a contest substantially as announced or advertised.  If Ms. Hedberg was promised a house or $150K in a contest co sponsored by broadcast stations, the FCC may very well have the last word here."

"The wise broadcaster adheres to the rule that, when running contests, if the prize is not physically in the station when a contest commences, the prize does not exist.  In other words, if the licensee does not have its hands on the prize, then no contest.  This is wisdom that in hindsight I bet these broadcasters here wish they had followed.  If the deed to the home, or cash, was in the station licensees’ possession at the commencement of the contest, the broadcasters would likely not be subject to this lawsuit today."

"If this was a station co-sponsored contest, I bet there are a number of communications lawyers now sending their business card to Ms. Hedberg to assist in representing her before the FCC.  While I will restrain myself from doing so, if this was a station co-sponsored contest, I would rather be on Ms. Hedberg’s side in arguing before the FCC, than on the broadcasters’ side, as I suspect that Ms. Hedberg’s attorney will have a lot more fun."

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