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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 April, 2004, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Miami radio fined for Castro hoax
Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro in December 2003
Castro (right) and Chavez are the best of friends
A Miami radio station which broadcast a crank call to Cuban President Fidel Castro should be fined $4,000, says the US communications regulator.

The hosts of "The Morning High Jinks" on WXDJ-FM edited tapes of an earlier hoax involving Venezuela President Hugo Chavez to get through to Mr Castro.

After a brief conversation, the Spanish-speaking hosts broke in to reveal the prank and called Mr Castro a killer, prompting a tirade of abuse.

WXDJ has 30 days to pay or appeal.

The station had argued that people in Cuba were exempt from a rule requiring that people be notified before their voices are used on air.

The Federal Communications Commission rejected this, saying the residence or political status of the target of the joke was irrelevant.

"It was in fact the intention and result of WXDJ's actions to fool and surprise the recipients of the call," the commission notice said.

Joe Ferrero and Enrique Santos
Pranksters: Ferrero and Santos's show is called 'Morning Joker'
Pretending to be a high-ranking Venezuelan government official and Mr Chavez, DJs Joe Ferrero and Enrique Santos managed to talk their way up a chain of four Cuban officials before being put through to Mr Castro himself.

They then exchanged pleasantries with Mr Castro before telling him he had fallen for a hoax and calling him a killer.

The conversation ended with a stream of abuse from Mr Castro.

Six months earlier, in a similar prank, they managed to fool Mr Chavez into thinking he was speaking to the Cuban leader, before launching into a diatribe against him. Unlike Mr Castro, he hung up.

Miami malice

It is not known whether WXDJ faced any penalty for that incident.

The radio station has 30 days to pay the fine or file a statement explaining why it should be reduced or cancelled.

The friendship between Mr Chavez and Mr Castro is well-known.

Miami, meanwhile, is home to a large expatriate Cuban population, much of it vociferously anti-Castro.

DJs catch 'Castro' in hoax
18 Jun 03  |  Americas
Chavez falls for Castro hoax
08 Jan 03  |  Americas

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