Pay-for-play probe results in firings

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Clear Channel Communications has fired unidentified employees and disciplined others after an internal payola probe found “evidence of wrongdoing,” the nation’s largest radio station owner announced Wednesday.

The San Antonio-based radio chain’s announcement came in a statement Wednesday after an earlier settlement between New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Sony BMG. The settlement agreement alleged that some Clear Channel Radio programmers took illegal “pay-for-play.”

Clear Channel said an internal investigation found two cases with “evidence of wrongdoing,” and those involved have been fired. The statement did not specify how many people were fired in the two incidents, and calls seeking clarification weren’t returned to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

In other instances, Clear Channel said it found “evidence of inappropriate conduct,” and those involved have been disciplined.

The statement also did not identify the Clear Channel properties where the dismissed and disciplined workers were employed. However, the company said all of its station general managers and programmers will be given additional training on company anti-payola policies.

“We take this issue very seriously and our policy is clear: If you engage in pay-for-play, you cannot work for Clear Channel,” said John Hogan, chief executive officer of the Clear Channel Radio unit. “We believe the vast majority of our programmers are doing a terrific job, fully within the law.”

In July, Sony BMG agreed to pay $10 million and to stop bribing radio stations to feature its artists. The agreement was part of a wider investigation by Spitzer, who has called payola “pervasive” in the radio industry.

After the settlement, the Federal Communications Commission said it would look into the issue.

Clear Channel Communications owns about 1,200 stations.


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