In a recent letter to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly requested that the RIAA help look into recent allegations of payola in the radio industry. The letter follows a Rolling Stone article claiming that the practice of pay-for-play, or payola, is rampant. O’Rielly says that his goal is “to get to the bottom of existing industry practices to determine whether the law is being followed or whether any problematic conduct must be addressed,” and he asks RIAA to “survey the practices of [the radio] industry and respond to press reports regarding alleged practices in order to help determine whether allegations of non-disclosure are actually occurring.”

Radio station management should always make sure their stations comply with all sponsorship identification rules and other disclosure requirements. Management may want to implement written payola policies and require employees to review and sign affidavits that demonstrate an understanding of the payola rules and a commitment to comply with them.