bigted Posted July 27, 2005 Report Share Posted July 27, 2005 "DJs were paid to play that tune Spitzer probe finds gigantic payola scam; Sony will pay $10M BY KATE MEYER and ADAM LISBERG DAILY NEWS WRITERS Sick of lousy songs on the radio? Blame it on a corrupt record business that skews the Top 40 by giving free trips and other goodies to radio programmers - and cold cash to radio stations to play their artists, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer charged yesterday. Big-name artists like Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion and Good Charlotte got airtime on the radio because their labels gave away computers and trips to Las Vegas, according to telltale industry E-mails Spitzer uncovered - and revealed yesterday. "Payola is pervasive. It reaches to the very top of the industry, on the radio side and the label side," Spitzer said yesterday as he announced the first settlement in his probe of pay-for-play in the music industry. Sony BMG Music Entertainment agreed to pay $10 million to charity to settle Spitzer's charges. But he has subpoenaed three other record companies - and said some record labels and radio stations are breaking the law - in what could be the biggest payola scandal since the 1950s. "We are far along with the other three labels. We have received documents and are in conversations with them," Spitzer said. "This investigation began with the labels. We have obviously expanded out to the radio stations." The sleazy deals were no surprise to music fans like Patricia Hatcher of Brooklyn, who was shopping at Tower Records in Greenwich Village yesterday. "You could definitely tell that they were playing the same artists over and over again," said Hatcher, 25. "I assumed that something was going on. It's kind of shady all around." E-mails and documents from Sony show it paid up to $1,000 to get a new song played on a single radio station, gave contest prizes to deejays instead of listeners, and even hired crews of callers to bombard stations' request lines, Spitzer said. "Payola drives promotion," he said. "It limits the diversity of music that is on-air. It limits the access of artists to airtime, and hence their capacity to succeed." Sony apologized for its improper conduct and promised to change its ways - and in exchange, sources said, Spitzer agreed not to identify any high-ranking Sony execs by name. The only Sony employee to lose his job as a result was Joel Klaiman, an executive vice president at Sony subsidiary Epic Records, sources said. Two radio chains also have fired programmers since Spitzer launched his probe. Payola long has been a problem in the record business, and independent record promoters were once notorious for giving cash, drugs and prostitutes to deejays to get airtime. Payola is a state and federal crime, but the Federal Communications Commission has levied just one $8,000 fine in the past decade - compared with the $550,000 fine for Janet Jackson's breast-baring Super Bowl show. Spitzer said the FCC should look at stripping licenses from the worst radio stations - and an FCC commissioner jumped aboard. "It's unfair to listeners if they hear songs on the radio because someone was paid off, not because it's good music," said Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. "We need an ... investigation to determine whether these practices violate federal payola laws." But the music business may have more to fear from bored fans than from angry regulators. "They do overplay a lot of music," said Alina Kravchenko, 20, of the upper West Side, browsing in the Times Square MTV store. "I like Jessica Simpson, but even her stuff is overplayed. Sometimes it gets on my nerves. It gets so old that I turn to the Spanish station." With George Rush" Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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