The Social Science Research Council gave FMC a grant to study the impact of former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s payola investigation. Of course, Eliot Spitzer got more than $30 million in settlements from some of the nation’s largest broadcasters and record labels a few years back to settle allegations that they had engaged in payola.
The New York Times described some of the shenanigans in an article from 2005 after the Sony BMG settlement:
To disguise a payoff to a radio programmer at KHTS in San Diego, Epic Records called a flat-screen television a “contest giveaway.” Epic, part of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, used the same gambit in delivering a laptop computer to the program director of WRHT in Greenville, N.C.- who also received PlayStation 2 games and an out-of-town trip with his girlfriend.
In another example, a Sony BMG executive considered a plan to promote the song “A.D.I.D.A.S.” by Killer Mike by sending radio disc jockeys one Adidas sneaker, with the promise of the second one when they had played the song 10 times.
The FCC also had its own settlement and independent artists reached agreement with some major broadcasters to root out payola, but a major question remains: How much have the big labels and record stations changed? That’s what FMC wants to take a look at.