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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006, 10:24 GMT
US radio giant 'accepted payola'
Liz Phair, one of the artists who Entercom is alleged to have played for payment
Entercom is alleged to have taken payment to play Liz Phair songs
A US radio giant took payment from record companies in exchange for playing songs on air, New York's attorney general has said.

Eliot Spitzer has taken legal action against Entercom Communications, which operates more than 105 US radio stations, in a crackdown on "payola".

Mr Spitzer said the firm sold air time for $1,000 (575) or more per song.

Entercom, based in Pennsylvania, denied the accusation. A spokesman said: "We have firm policies prohibiting payola."

'Extracting money'

US regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began to investigate "pay-for-play" practices in the music industry - also known as payola - last year.

Last July music firm Sony BMG agreed to pay $10m (5.75m) and stop paying radio station employees to play its artists' songs.

In November Warner Music Group agreed to pay $5m (2.87m) to settle a "pay-for-play" investigation.

Mr Spitzer said on Wednesday: "We have moved from the label side, those who put out the records and are forced to pay for air time, and switched to the radio conglomerates... that are extracting money."

'Violated licence'

In his legal action he said he had evidence that Entercom executives discussed strategies for supplementing radio station budgets with payola cash from record companies.

Mr Spitzer said one of Entercom's country music stations was given a $2,500 (1,400) laptop computer in exchange for playing songs by artists Joe Nichols, McHayes and Liz Phair.

He said payola violated New York state civil law and radio station licences, and sometimes resulted in the same song being played on air every hour.

"The decisions are being made as to what to put on the airwaves based on bribes to be paid and extracted, rather than on judgments based on artistic merit," Mr Spitzer said.

Entercom spokesman Adam Miller said: "Now that the attorney general has filed this civil action, we are confident that the issues will be fully and fairly resolved by the court."

Label settles 'pay-to-play' probe
23 Nov 05 |  Entertainment
Pay-for-play probe launched in US
09 Aug 05 |  Entertainment
Pay-for-play costs Sony BMG $10m
25 Jul 05 |  Entertainment

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