2005-08-12 / Community

Hot 97 Fined For ‘Smackfest’ Contests

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and State Athletic Commission Chairman Ron Scott Stevens announced on August 8 that the investigation of slapping contests, sponsored by a New York City radio station, is re-solved.

As a result of the agreement, WQHT (Hot 97) will pay the maximum fine of $240,000 for its illegal “Smackfest” promotions, and will fund an extensive anti-violence campaign, which will include a $60,000 payment to one of the city’s leading anti-violence organizations.

“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. “The law establishes set boundaries that cannot be crossed to protect our community’s health and safety.”

The Attorney General’s office and the State Athletic Commission began investigating Hot 97’s promotions in March of this year, and it was revealed that the station had sponsored 24 “Smackfest” contests between April 2004 and January 2005.

Participants, usually young women, took turns violently slapping each other, and winners of the contests were promised tickets to concerts and up to $5,000 in cash.

Videotapes of the contests were then featured on the radio station’s website.

In a petition filed in New York Supreme Court, the Attorney General’s office and the Athletic Commission alleged that the contests were dangerous and violated state law, because no permits were ever issued for the contest, nor were certain conditions met for a “combative sport.”

New York City Council Member John C. Liu said, ‘Starting with Emmis’ (Hot 97’s parent company) broadcast of racist and sexist profanity […] and it’s illegal ‘Smackfest’ prizefights, the corporate chieftains have broken the public trust by profiting from hate and violence.

The legal settlement is not only a victory for New Yorkers, but will provide another incentive for Emmis to stay within the legal and ethical bounds of our public airwaves.”

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