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FCC to investigate Sony payola settlement

The FCC Enforcement Bureau will look into what led to last month’s settlement between New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Sony BMG Music Entertainment over alleged payola activities.

Under the settlement, Sony said it would pay the state $10 million and discontinue paying stations to feature certain musical performers on air.

In a statement announcing the move, commission Chairman Kevin Martin said the FCC “will not tolerate non-compliance” with rules banning payola.

Regardless of Sony’s settlement with the state of New York, if Enforcement Bureau investigators find that payola prohibitions have been broken, the FCC “will take swift action,” Martin said.

While the FCC’s investigation of the Sony incident involves radio, it is seen as part of the commission’s renewed interest in pay-for-play issues, which have included the use in some TV newsrooms of private and government-supplied video news releases without revealing the source of the material to viewers.

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