November 12, 2013
Who is Accountable for Reckless Broadcasting?
A couple of weeks ago, through my non-profit project, the Media Action Center, I filed a Petition to Deny the renewal of the broadcast license of a radio station in Sacramento because, simply put, they killed a woman.
While the radio station's insurance company paid millions after they were found guilty for negligence in a lawsuit, the station itself never paid any price, as you or I would, if we had killed someone, even accidentally. The death, however, can barely be called an accident, as the jury discovered.
And now, it's up to the FCC as to whether they force real accountability in this matter, by denying renewal of the station's license to broadcast over our public airwaves.
In 2007, Entercom Sacramento's KDND sponsored a water drinking contest called "Hold Your Wee for a Wii." The idea was to compete to see who could drink the most water without peeing; "last man standing" would win a Nintendo Wii! But the stunt went bad, so bad that 28 year old mother of three, Jennifer Strange, died as a result.
Her family hired a lawyer, who did two things: he filed a lawsuit against Entercom and he wrote to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking that the station's license be revoked.
The attorney, Roger Dreyer, won his lawsuit and a $16.6 million dollar award for the family in 2009. The jury in William A. Strange v Entercom unanimously decided Entercom Sacramento was 100% liable for Mrs. Strange's death.
The jury understood that her death was caused by no mere accident, but rather more like by a reckless driver careening down the wrong side of a busy freeway doing 120 mph.