First FEMA, now FCC found to be asleep at the wheel

After this past week's official determination that FEMA (under the Department of Homeland Security) was responsible for the "multitude of errors that prolonged the suffering of thousands of Gulf Coast residents", it now seems that another federal agency is not doing its job--the FCC.

From the FCC's website,

Federal law, including Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules, requires that employees of broadcast stations, program producers, program suppliers and others who have accepted or agreed to receive payments, services, or other valuable consideration for airing material must disclose this fact to the broadcast licensee airing the material. This is required so that broadcasters have the information they need to disclose to their audiences that the material was paid for.

2005 investigations by the New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office have implicated nearly 190 stations in illicit deals with recording giants Sony BMG and Warner Music Group. Most of the stations involved were owned by the biggest corporate radio conglomerates such as Clear Channel, Cumulus Media, and Infinity/Viacom.

Sony BMG and Warner Music Group have already agreed to pay more than $15 million for payola abuses after Attorney General Spitzer found they had funneled millions in money and prizes to radio broadcasters. FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein stated that Spitzer gave the agency “an arsenal of smoking guns” to ramp up enforcement against broadcasters taking kickbacks. Several days later, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin pledged to do just that, but to date nothing has happened.

Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold has introduced the "Radio and Concert Disclosure and Competition Act" (S. 2058) to stop record labels from paying off radio stations in exchange for airplay, but again, no action has been taken by Congress.