Viacom Cleared In Super Bowl Complaint - Broadcasting & Cable

Viacom Cleared In Super Bowl Complaint

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Viacom has been cleared by the FCC of a complaint over the 2004 Super Bowl. No, not that complaint.

In the "no good deed goes unpunished" category, Viacom's KCBS-TV Los Angeles had been the target of an FCC complaint from the winners of the station's Super Bowl sweepstakes.

Judi and John Estrin had alleged that their prize in the Extra Point Sweepstakes--a trip to the 2004 Super Bowl--was not worth the advertised $8,550, then challenged the FCC's initial decision that KCBS did nothing wrong.

This week, the FCC reiterated its decision and denied to reconsider it.

Why did the couple kick a gift horse in the chops in the first place. It's the post-Oprah car giveaway syndrome (though actually the complaint was filed before that sweeps stunt).

Since the couple had to pay tax on the Super Bowl prize trip, they were arguing that it was only worth $4,218.40 to reduce their federal tax liability on the prize, which they argued was based on a figure "considerably more than the actual value of the trip."

Their hotel was “an older motor hotel” located “several miles from the downtown area,” they told the FCC (apparently unfamiliar with the new term for motor hotel, "motel"), and that their Super Bowl seats were not “premium seats” in a “prime location.”

The FCC said that CBS had demonstrated that it had paid a third-party company the $8,550, including $1,975 that Map Marketing took as its cut, which made it the actual value to CBS.

Moral: Perhaps stations should include a free H&R Block session as part of their prize packages.

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