Hundreds Of Stations Under Investigation By FCC In Payola Investigation
February 10, 2006

Though ABC News has delayed airing its Primetime Live story on Eliot Spitzer's payola investigation, it has revealed that the FCC is now investigating hundreds of radio stations around the country as part of the scandal. FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein told ABC News, "The FCC staff is working with voluminous evidence right now. It's a complicated and wide-ranging investigation." He added, "This is potentially the most widespread and flagrant violation of FCC rules in the history of American broadcasting. We've never seen evidence of such a systematic betrayal of the responsibility of broadcasters."

Spitzer himself told ABC News, "We have people in suits coming in with documents rather than cash payments under the table to a DJ."

Adelstein threatens the loss of stations' licenses through this investigation, saying, "I can't believe that radio stations are putting their licenses at risk. It seems to me they thought the FCC was asleep and they shot someone in front of the policeman. The policeman is obligated to act when evidence is so clear." He added, "While it's highly unusual for the FCC to pull licenses on first violation, depending on the severity that is one option that is available to us. These are criminal matters as well."

Commissioner Adelstein revealed that he has been in regular contact with Spitzer lately, and wants the FCC to handle the investigation, as opposed to just Spitzer and the state of New York. "We have a responsibility to get to the bottom of this. It's important that the FCC does its job and not let the states do it for us," he said.

ABC News also spoke to a number of industry stars at the Grammys earlier this week about payola, with none of them particularly surprised by the news. "Honestly, payola has existed since the beginning of the music business, so it's not like its some brand-new thing that never happened before," said Alicia Keys. Jessica Simpson's music has been mentioned in Spitzer's documents. Her father/manager Joe Simpson told ABC News, "All I know is we worked really hard to get the record on and it was as honest as I could be. So whatever happened above us, you know I have no answer for."

The episode of Primetime Live is now expected to air next Thursday, February 16.

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