August 8, 2005
As a part of his ongoing bust-up of the corrupt music industry, Eliot Spitzer has today reached a settlement with NY radio station Hot 97 , in which the radio station has agreed to stop its "Smackfest" promotion, in which female listeners competitively slapped each other and were awarded prizes. Hot 97 will also pay a fine of $240,000. Attorney General's office press release is here.
The payola case against Sony BMG and other big record companies was perhaps a clearer crime than the Smackfest, because the Smackfest participants were willing adults who voluntarily agreed to slap and be slapped so that they might have a chance to win up to $5,000 or score some Usher tickets. But NY State has laws against promoting combative sports (pretty much any sport where people beat the crap out of each other other than boxing and martial arts,) and City Council member John C. Liu said that Hot 97 had "broken the public trust by profiting from hate and violence."
So now the station has to promote anti-domestic violence campaigns and give a part of its settlement to Safe Horizon, much like Sony BMG has to give its $10 million settlement to music education nonprofits.
Of course, Hot 97 has gotten in trouble lately for other hijinks, such as their infamous ode to poor taste, "Tsunami Song" that used the tune of "We Are the World" and a lot of cruel racial slurs to jeer at the people killed in December's tsunami.
Sure, it's nice to see morning-show radio hosts, generally some of the more vulgar and offensive people in media, get the shaft, and pay-to-play policies in the music industry are unfair. But these days Spitzer's office seems awfully bent on going after the big splashy cases that regular people (i.e. voters) will respond to. Almost seems like it's all a part of somebody's election campaign or something.
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