Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Why Doesn't The NAB Utilize Their Resources On Real Violations...?
Scams Use Leased Radio TimeTo Target Immigrant Listeners
Foreign-Language Programs Often Go Unscrutinized,Until Complaints Arise
Ponzi Scheme or Variety Show?
By JENNIFER LEVITZ, October 31, 2006; Page A1, The Wall Street Journal
Rick Santos, manager of WLQY-AM in Miami, says he thought the popular Creole program that aired six days a week on his radio station was a "musical variety show."
It was actually part of a fraud, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Scam artists used the radio for two years to promote an investment scheme that ensnared 631 Haitian immigrants and cost them nearly $6 million, a federal court ruled after an SEC complaint.
"I didn't understand what they were doing," says Mr. Santos, who doesn't speak Creole. "I found out about it afterward."
Fraudsters seeking to take advantage of immigrants are finding an easy route via radio stations that lease blocks of air time to anyone willing to pay. Some of these stations are part of major foreign-language media chains, such as market leader Univision Communications Inc. Yet station managers say they make little effort to check the bona fides of the people they allow on the air.
The practice of "time brokerage" is more likely to lead to deception than traditional advertising because those buying the time often disguise their pitches as regular programming. In Kansas and New Jersey, people pretending to be lawyers bought time for Spanish-language shows offering immigration advice, which served as promotions for their bogus law practices.
Time brokerage is appealing to radio-station owners because they can receive $150 to $500 an hour for air time with little effort. Buyers of time "come in, perform their act and leave," says Bill Parris, a consultant for MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting Inc. The New York City company owns about 45 stations whose air time is all brokered. In a wave of radio industry consolidation, media chains have been snapping up FM stations with good signals, leaving a pool of small AM stations that can still be bought for relatively little....read more: here
10/31/2006 08:45:00 AM
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