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Good Karma Hit With $4K Contest Fine.


The station is WKNR-AM in Cleveland and the fine is for "broadcasting information about a contest without fully and accurately disclosing all of its material terms." The commission says Good Karma did not properly broadcast details of a changing on-air contest, upholding the small fine. And, the commission rejected Good Karma's argument that the contest was really a bit, not a contest. Here are all the details. 

The Enforcement Bureau received a complaint alleging that, from approximately November 2007 until September 2009, the Station conducted a “bogus” contest called “Who Said That?” during the “Really Big Show,” which, during the time period at issue, aired weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to noon.3 In particular, the complainant alleged that the Station “dropped talking about prizes” during the course of the Contest. On June 19, 2009 and August 26, 2009, the Bureau sent letters of inquiry (LOIs) to the Licensee regarding the contests. In response to those LOIs, Good Karma admitted that on a regular basis during early 2007 through the summer of 2008, and then sporadically thereafter until September 4, 2009, the Station aired a “bit,” or program feature, called “Who Said That?” during “The Really Big Show with Tony Rizzo.”

Good Karma stated that, during broadcasts of the Contest, the Station aired a voice recording of an unnamed individual in the sports world and listeners called in or sent an e-mail to the Station to try to correctly identify the speaker. The Station would award prizes to listeners who correctly identified the speaker. Once a listener called in and successfully identified the speaker, the Station would select a new audio clip for listeners to identify and the Contest continued with the new clip.

This practice continued regularly until the Station aired the last clip in the fall of 2007. Good Karma noted that no one correctly identified the speaker of the clip for more than twenty months. The Licensee explained that from the fall of 2007 until the summer of 2008, the Station aired a prize announcement during each weekday, two-hour program and notified listeners that additional prizes would be added each week.

The Licensee admitted, however, that the Station did not announce the entire list of accumulated prizes, and was instead “identify[ing] the new prize and emphasiz[ing] material prizes in the package.” The Licensee admitted that for over a year during the course of the Contest (from the summer of 2008 until September 4, 2009), the Station stopped announcing prizes, unless a listener called in and tried to guess the identity of the voice in the last clip. According to Good Karma, by September 2009, some originally-identified prizes were no longer available.14 Although the Station did not announce any change in the prizes, Good Karma claimed that if a listener had correctly identified the speaker in the last clip, the Station would have offered a similar package of prizes to what was originally announced.

In view of the record evidence, the NAL proposed a forfeiture in the amount of four thousand dollars against Good Karma. In its response to the NAL, Good Karma disputes that it committed a violation of our contest rule. Good Karma asserts that “Who Said That?” is more properly characterized as a program feature or “bit” rather than a traditional radio contest and therefore is not subject to our contest rule. The commission rejected that argument.

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