New York radio station WQHT has agreed to pay $240,000 to New York State authorities after it sponsored "smackfest" contests in which young women took turns slapping each other for a chance to win concert tickets and cash.
In a statement, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and State Athletic Commission Chairman Ron Scott Stevens said that the station, which is owned by Emmis Communications Corp., had also agreed to donate $60,000 to a nonprofit group that promotes awareness of domestic violence.
"This agreement should be a wake-up call to all those in the entertainment industry who think outrageousness is a clever marketing strategy," Spitzer said in a statement. "The law establishes set boundaries that cannot be crossed to protect our community's health and safety."
Emmis Senior Vice President and General Manager Barry Mayo said that the station would run anti-violence programing and was "completely committed" to making the settlement work.
"Despite the fact that the contestants voluntarily participated in what was supposed to be harmless entertainment, it was not our finest hour, and New York City deserves better," Emmis Radio President Rick Cummings said.
New York officials began an investigation of the FM radio station which bills itself as Hot 97 earlier this year.
State officials argued that the two dozen "Smackfest" contests sponsored by the station last year and early this year constituted a kind of unlicensed "combative sport," similar to underground boxing.
Videos of the "smackfest" contests had been featured on the station's Web site. Source