By Jim Hagerty
The former owner of WNTA AM has agreed to pay the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) $185,000 to resolve allegations that it misrepresented a show that promoted products and services on the air.
According to the FCC order released April 25, Maverick Media failed to disclosed to listeners that some guests on “Stateline Showcase” paid the station to appear and push their products.
The show was hosted by longtime Rockford radio personality Doug McDuff.
“The Sponsorship Identification Laws establish the general obligation of a broadcast station to air sponsorship identification announcements whenever any ‘money, service or other valuable consideration’ is paid or promised to the station for the broadcast of program material,” the order reads. “The Commission has noted that the Sponsorship Identification Laws are ‘grounded in the principle that listeners and viewers are entitled to know who seeks to persuade them.’
“The (Enforcement) Bureau received a Complaint, which alleged that Station WNTA(AM) aired ‘Stateline Showcase,’ a program promoted as a regularly scheduled daily talk show, in exchange for money or other valuable consideration, without disclosing through required sponsorship announcements that the ‘guests’ featured on the show paid the Licensee to appear and promote their products and services.”
The investigation began four years ago, the FCC said.
Maverick Media entered into an agreement last April to sell the company to Wisconsin-based Mid-West Family Broadcasting. The $15.5 million deal includes WRTB 95.3 FM, WXRX 104.9 FM, B-103.1 FM, NTA FM and WNTA. The sale has not been finalized.
Maverick provided the FCC with evidence of financial hardship as part of the settlement.
The agreement also stipulates that Mid-West must implement a three-year compliance program and submit periodic reports to the commission.
Feb. 21, 2014, McDuff, News Director Ken DeCoster and three other full-time employees were let go when NTA FM dropped its talk format and became a variety station, 100.5 The River, and WRTB 95.3 FM changed from Bob FM to a country format—95.3 The Bull.
Last year, Mid-West turned WNTA into a Spanish station, La Movida 1330.
The deal with the commission was accepted by Maverick Media President Gary S. Rozynek and Mid-West Family Broadcasting President Tom Walker.
Mid-West brass had no comment.