U.S. sues Boise broadcaster over radio promotion

krodine@idahostatesman.comMay 2, 2013 

— Radio station KJOT-FM (105.1) held a grand-prize giveaway event at a sponsor's business, drawing listeners hoping to win 15 prizes - including a 2001 Honda car, a dirt bike, appliances and gift cards - packed into a garage. All of the prizes went to the one person who ended up with a key to the garage.

Nine days later, someone filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, saying the station - then called J105, now Variety Rock 105.1 -had not made clear that the contest was winner-take-all. The commission, which regulates over-the-air broadcasters, ultimately agreed.

Journal Broadcast Corp., the station's owner, refuted the allegation, but the FCC this past March ordered the company to pay a $4,000 "forfeiture" for violating commission rules governing radio contests. The company didn't pay.

On April 8, it asked the FCC to reconsider, saying the forfeiture order was based on incomplete information, misapplied a precedent and denied the media company due process.

On April 26 - five years to the day of the prize giveaway - Idaho's U.S. attorney, Wendy Olson, sued in federal court in Boise seeking the initial penalty plus interest.

According to the government, only two of the 10 promotional transcripts provided by Journal Broadcast indicated that all of the prizes would go to one person. Journal Broadcast argued that the contest's name, "Ultimate Garage," also indicated that everything in the garage would go to one person, according to court documents.

The FCC did not find evidence to support the complainant's other allegation - that the winner was predetermined.

Marie McGlynn-Peach, vice president and general manager for Journal Broadcast Group Idaho, said Wednesday she couldn't comment because the issue is in litigation.

No court date has been set for this case, but a federal judge has ordered plaintiff and defendant to come up with a litigation plan by mid-July.

Journal Broadcast Corp. owns TV and radio stations in 12 U.S. states, including the Boise-Nampa and Twin Falls markets.

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service