Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Report : Station's radio contest hits a snag

The Boston Herald reported on Tuesday(9/22) that WKLB 102.5FM's "Dream Wedding" radio contest "has become a nightmare for a Beverly bride-to-be who has put her big day on hold for years to raise her sister’s five sons after their mother died of cancer."

The "Dream Wedding" contest was launched on August 3 on the station's website.Listeners had to log on to www.wklb.com to nominate a lucky couple. Four couples were then selected as finalists. After that, it was up to listeners to vote on-line for their favorite couple. The on-line voting ended on Sep. 13. In order to vote, a listener had to register on the site.

Last Monday(9/14), WKLB announced the winners - a 37-year old woman from Beverly and her fiance. However, later in the day, the Greater Media-owned country music station determined there were voting problems, leading to WKLB rescinding the prize originally awarded to the couple — a wedding dress, reception for 200 people, invitations, cake, and honeymoon cruise. When the contest was re-judged by "a panel of judges who chose the winning duo based on interviews with each of the couples, their original submissions and listener e-mails", there was a different winner announced last Friday(9/18). The total value of the prize was $37,000.

[Ed. Note : As sappy as the Herald made this story out to be, the bottom line here is there was an on-line voting fraud committed and detected. The winning entry was disqualified. End of story? Well, not really. The bigger question here is - did the station have the right to amend its web contest by inserting a panel of judges to determine a new winner? Or, did it have to stick to the original contest rules and do on-line re-vote(minus the disqualified entry, of course)? I don't have the written copy of the rules for the Dream Wedding contest in front of me so can't make a call on this one yet.

The Communications Act of 1934 is hardly as engaging as "The Da Vinci Code". Still, Section 508 about statutory provisions for contest rules is essential reading for all radio professionals and listeners. Station contests and promotions must be run within the bounds of FCC rules and regulations. Section 508 still gets stations in trouble on the daily basis. Greater Media's other station Magic 106.7 was fined by the FCC earlier this year for failing to disclose how its own "Win A Car" contest would work].

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