FCC mounts radio payola probe

April 20, 2006 at 12:10 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 20 (UPI) -- The Federal Communications Commission has launched the biggest federal investigation into U.S. radio corruption since the congressional payola hearings of 1960.

The FCC is investigating whether officials at Clear Channel Communications Inc., CBS Radio Inc., Entercom Communications Corp. and Citadel Broadcasting Corp. took cash and gifts in exchange for playing songs by certain artists, sources told Thursday's Los Angeles Times.

The radio groups could face sanctions ranging from fines to the loss of broadcast licenses if payola allegations are proven, the newspaper noted.

The FCC refused to comment on the investigation and reps for the radio stations could not be reached for comment, the Times said.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has been investigating pay-for-play violations since 2004 and currently has a suit pending against Entercom. Spitzer has reportedly shared his evidence with the FCC.

The payola laws came out of the 1960 pay-for-play congressional hearings, which buried the career of disc jockey Alan Freed.

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