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FCC Fines Gow Media's KFNC/Houston $5200 Over Contest


KFNC-FM
KFNC-FM

The FCC is fining Gow Media's Sports KFNC-FM/Mont Belvieu, TX (Houston) $5200 after it violated the Commission's rules when it failed to timely award a contest prize, thereby not conducting the contest substantially as announced or advertised. Specifically, the complainant claims that the advertised prize was an all-expenses-paid vacation to Marival Resort in Mexico in 2016. But after winning the contest, the complainant said he "never received the prize despite many calls, emails and messages."

The complainant also claims that he spoke directly with the "promo director" about this issue, but that the matter remained unresolved through September, 2018. In its Letter of Inquiry (LOI) response, Gow Media asserts that it does not contest the claims made by the complainant. It confirmed that it sponsored the "Bud Light Ultimate Fantasy Draft Party" between August 19, 2015, and January 5, 2016. The advertised grand prize was "a double room for two people for four nights/five days inclusive vacation at the Marival Resort and Suites, located in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Gow Media claims that while the operator of the resort "committed to providing the vacation prize for the contest" and worked with the station to promote the resort, when it came time to award the prize to the contest winner, "the resort operator reneged on its commitment." Gow Media alleges that the employee charged with overseeing the contest -- the station's promotions director -- failed to inform management that the resort operator had withdrawn the prize, and did not take immediate action to resolve the failure to award the advertised prize.

Gow Media claims that once this issue was brought to management's attention, the station promptly awarded the complainant a replacement prize of greater value. On October 5, 2018, Gow Media offered the vomplainant $3,600 in cash, which it claims represents twice the value of the advertised prize. The complainant accepted the replacement prize and signed a settlement agreement with Gow Media, indicating that "he would like to rescind his complaint" with the FCC.

Although it appears Gow Media ultimately took steps to resolve this issue, the FCC says such steps were not undertaken until after its investigation commenced. Gow Media provided no explanation to the agency for its employee's failure to promptly respond to the complainant's inquiries about the prize, nor does it explain why the matter remained unresolved for two years. Moreover, the FCC said the company's actions to provide the complainant free tickets to a sporting event as an "interim prize," and a cash settlement, do not negate its liability for failing to comply with the contest rules.

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