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Krayeske Will File Appeal of FCC Response To Rowland, WTIC, Wilson-Foley Complaint

by Christine Stuart | Jun 25, 2012 5:29am
(8) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Congress, Election 2012, Election Policy, Legal, Media Matters

Contributed photo Not satisfied with the Federal Communications Commission’s response to his complaint against WTIC-AM radio, attorney Ken Krayeske will file an appeal   Monday.

Krayeske, an attorney and blogger, called the FCC’s response “flippant” and said he doesn’t feel like the agency, which regulates the airwaves, took his first complaint seriously so he’s going to file an appeal. Krayeske alleged WTIC-AM’s afternoon host, former Gov. John G. Rowland, violated the terms of the station’s FCC license when he failed to disclose his volunteer work for Lisa Wilson-Foley’s campaign and his paid consulting work for her husband’s nursing home chain.

Wilson-Foley is one of four candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the 5th congressional district.

In May, the FCC found that WTIC-AM didn’t violate any rules when Rowland, decided not to disclose his position on the campaign, even though he talked about the race and to Wilson-Foley’s opponents on the air.

“The FCC has no control over who a station might employ either on-air or off the air, and there is no requirement that a station disclose any current or prior political relationships of its employees,” Mark Berlin, of the FCC’s media bureau, wrote   in response to Krayeske’s complaint.

Krayeske complained   to the FCC about Rowland’s decision not to disclose his connection to the Wilson-Foley campaign when he had one of her Republican opponents on the air. That conversation ended with Rowland giving the entire listening audience the opponents cell phone number.

“It appears that the Wilson-Foley campaign and John Rowland coordinated a political attack against at least one of her opponents, Andrew Roraback, using live air time on CBS Radio Inc.’s WTIC-1080 AM’s frequency,” Krayeske’s original complaint says. “This live air time is a commodity that should have been paid for by the Wilson-Foley campaign or be listed as a contribution to the Wilson-Foley campaign.”

Roraback went on the air with Rowland in November 2011 shortly after announcing his intention to enter the race. “The exchange as I recall it was a little testy,” Roraback said last week in an interview. The interview is no longer archived on WTIC’s website.

But the FCC didn’t seem interested in addressing the specifics of Krayeske’s complaint, which pointed to disclosure regulations for FCC license holders.

Christine Stuart file photo “You state that Mr. Rowland never indicated on the air that he volunteered for or worked for Lisa Wilson-Foley’s campaign for Congress, and you feel that this either violates the law or violates the spirit of the law requiring open disclosure,” Berlin wrote in his May 21 response before concluding it wasn’t a matter the FCC was interested in addressing.

But Krayeske, who ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in 2010,  isn’t backing down. He doesn’t believe the FCC addressed his concerns.

“Normally, a paid plug for a candidate would be considered an advertisement,” Krayeske wrote in his appeal.

If it was a sponsorship, and if Rowland was giving the Wilson-Foley campaign more publicity than the other candidates or using airtime to trash her opponents, then his relationship needed to be disclosed, he argues in the appeal.

At the same time as he was volunteering for Wilson-Foley’s campaign, Rowland was also being paid as a consultant by Apple Rehab, the nursing home run by Wilson-Foley’s husband Brian Foley. A federal grand jury is investigating Rowland’s relationship with Foley.

Wilson-Foley’s campaign declined to comment on the appeal.

The appeal goes on to alleged that since hiring Rowland, who resigned as governor in 2004 before serving time in a federal prison on a corruption charge, WTIC has had a responsibility to monitor his broadcasts to make sure he wasn’t abusing his position of trust.

“I think WTIC’s standard of reasonable diligence is higher than normal, given the players involved. We’d all like to think that the bad actor is capable of reformation. But in the journalism industry, the old saw ‘Trust, but Verify’ exists because the tiger may not always change his stripes,” Krayeske wrote in his appeal.

Christine Stuart file photo One of the main questions Krayeske seeks to answer is: “Did that licensed station exercise reasonable diligence in obtaining from its employees whether matters being broadcast applied to the sponsorship section?” According to previous news reports WTIC program director Jeneen Lee says Rowland disclosed the conflict to station bosses, even though Krayeske and others have never heard it mentioned on the air.

Lee did not respond to repeated requests to comment.

However, even if the FCC won’t investigate Rowland’s arrangement with Wilson-Foley’s campaign or his $30,000 consulting job with her husband, a federal grand jury is looking into the issue.

Roraback said he didn’t learn about the consulting relationship Wilson-Foley’s husband had with Rowland until months after the interivew.

“I’ve said this of both Chris Donovan and Lisa Wilson-Foley, what they owe the voters of the 5th District is to make themselves available to the public and the press to answer questions,” Roraback said.

Donovan’s finance director, Robert Braddock Jr., was arrested May 30 by federal authorities and charged with conspiring to conceal the source of $20,000 in campaign donations.

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(8) Comments

posted by: Noteworthy | June 25, 2012  7:56am

It was predicted this complaint would go nowhere and it has come true. That’s because Krayeske appears not to be able to read the rule book or the law, or at least to understand it. Perhaps in this tough world for lawyers, he is just looking for his 5 seconds of fame by hitching his wagon to a headline grabber even if the substance of his tie in is demonstrably shrill and tenuous and weak. But hey, appeal on and waste everybody’s time and money - that is a lot of what attorney’s do, right?

posted by: gutbomb86 | June 25, 2012  9:49am


@noteworthy - actually I think he’s got a case. It’s a clear violation. At the minimum, Rowland needs to fork over a sum to WTIC equal to the value of the airtime he used to promote Wilson-Foley and/or denigrate her opponents, and WTIC needs to disclose if they want to continue to be considered anything remotely resembling a “news” organization.

This nonsense has been going on for quite some time. The FCC is charged with ensuring there’s a level playing field for candidates, etc. - WTIC and many other stations are not hiding their bias in favor of conservative candidates and policy. These stations are a sham. They shill for Republicans to their own detriment - most of them can’t even support paid local staff any more because they’ve offended or driven away 80% of their potential listeners. It’s about time someone had the courage to challenge right wing radio.

posted by: Noteworthy | June 25, 2012  10:23am

Contribute to Krayeske and help this struggling lawyer pay for the appeal if you think he has such a pressing case. It’s all theater and frankly, reading the newspaper coverage and all the hyperventilating at the Journal Inquirer and elsewhere, it’s tiresome and trivial to see all the flailing about, the whining and handwringing. There is no requirement for equal time under the FCC rules mostly because John Rowland’s radio program is an opinion show just like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, or Chris Matthews or Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. You get on the show if the host wants you on the show and nobody is required to do a tit for tat on equal time.

More importantly, Rowland’s program and this bogus FCC complaint has nothing to do with WTIC’s standing as a news organization. Rowland’s show is not the station’s news product. It is a program the station airs because it’s interesting, draws listeners and for which they can sell advertising. As such, there is no requirement for equal time and if Krayeske feels he was given short shrift, maybe he should consider the fact that he got what his complaint deserved. The FCC has been used for years as the whipping boy of politicians who whine about the coverage they rightfully receive. And by the way, the Federal Elections Commission and its complaint process has too which is reflected in the complaints that have been filed there. 

Those of you who love to hate all things Rowland need to get over the past and move on. Really.

posted by: Christine Stuart | June 25, 2012  11:20am

Christine Stuart

All Mr. Krayeske is asking for is disclosure of a possible conflict. He’s not asking for Rowland to be fair on the air. But the public should be able to know his affiliations so it can judge for itself.

posted by: gutbomb86 | June 25, 2012  12:08pm


Noteworthy - You’re mistaken on most of that. The FCC regulates this and Krayeske has ID’d a clear case of a failure to disclose. This is what happens when a company becomes a partisan entity. They lose sight of the rules.

Relevant Sections of the FCC’s Rules Dealing with Broadcast Stations

Section 73.1212 - Sponsorship identification; list retention; related requirements.

(a) When a broadcast station transmits any matter for which money, service, or other valuable consideration is either directly or indirectly paid or promised to, or charged or accepted by such station, the station, at the time of the broadcast, shall announce:

(1) That such matter is sponsored, paid for, or furnished, either in whole or in part, and

(2) By whom or on whose behalf such consideration was supplied: Provided, however, That “service or other valuable consideration” shall not include any service or property furnished either without or at a nominal charge for use on, or in connection with, a broadcast unless it is so furnished in consideration for an identification of any person, product, service, trademark, or brand name beyond an identification reasonably related to the use of such service or property on the broadcast.

(b) The licensee of each broadcast station shall exercise reasonable diligence to obtain from its employees, and from other persons with whom it deals directly in connection with any matter for broadcast, information to enable such licensee to make the announcement required by this section.

(c) In any case where a report has been made to a broadcast station as required by section 507 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, of circumstances which would have required an announcement under this section had the consideration been received by such broadcast station, an appropriate announcement shall be made by such station.

(d) In the case of any political broadcast matter or any broadcast matter involving the discussion of a controversial issue of public importance for which any film, record, transcription, talent, script, or other material or service of any kind is furnished, either directly or indirectly, to a station as an inducement for broadcasting such matter, an announcement shall be made both at the beginning and conclusion of such broadcast on which such material or service is used that such film, record, transcription, talent, script, or other material or service has been furnished to such station in connection with the transmission of such broadcast matter: Provided, however, That in the case of any broadcast of 5 minutes’ duration or less, only one such announcement need be made either at the beginning or conclusion of the broadcast.

(e) The announcement required by this section shall, in addition to stating the fact that the broadcast matter was sponsored, paid for or furnished, fully and fairly disclose the true identity of the person or persons, or corporation, committee, association or other unincorporated group, or other entity by whom or on whose behalf such payment is made or promised, or from whom or on whose behalf such services or other valuable consideration is received, or by whom the material or services referred to in paragraph (d) of this section are furnished. Where an agent or other person or entity contracts or otherwise makes arrangements with a station on behalf of another, and such fact is known or by the exercise of reasonable diligence, as specified in paragraph (b) of this section, could be known to the station, the announcement shall disclose the identity of the person or persons or entity on whose behalf such agent is acting instead of the name of such agent. Where the material broadcast is political matter or matter involving the discussion of a controversial issue of public importance and a corporation, committee, association or other unincorporated group, or other entity is paying for or furnishing the broadcast matter, the station shall, in addition to making the announcement required by this section, require that a list of the chief executive officers or members of the executive committee or of the board of directors of the corporation, committee, association or other unincorporated group, or other entity shall be made available for public inspection at the location specified by the licensee under § 73.3526 of this chapter. ...

...Whenever sponsorship announcements are omitted pursuant to this paragraph, the licensee shall observe the following conditions:

(1) Maintain a list showing the name, address, and (where available) the telephone number of each advertiser;

(2) Make this list available to members of the public who have a legitimate interest in obtaining the information contained in the list. Such list must be retained for a period of two years after broadcast.

posted by: Matt W. | June 25, 2012  12:15pm

Matt W.

I don’t know whether Rowland committed a violation here or not but given the circumstances I think it’s a reasonable question to ask.  I think he brings a unique perspective to his radio show and explains the “inside baseball” very well.  However, when you are a convicted felon I think you lose the benefit of the doubt when it comes to things like this.  We’ll see.

posted by: Noteworthy | June 25, 2012  12:40pm

Sponsorship - you hit it on the head. It’s not sponsorship. If you say otherwise - prove it.

posted by: gutbomb86 | June 25, 2012  4:38pm


It’s pretty clear cut. If he accepted money from the campaign for any reason and then acted as an agent of the campaign on the air, both he and the station have essentially violated the rule. He could have easily disclosed to WTIC the payment, and they could have announced it and none of this would be an issue. It’s remarkable to me that you’re playing the role of apologist here.