Entercom has no record of Drost
any records of requests for political ad time in 2018 online and may have “willfully and repeatedly” violated federal law requiring this documentation.
The agency sought this information for the three stations by Feb. 28.
Entercom’s Feb. 28 response said it had no record of Drost seeking airtime. Further, because the company also found no record of her running for Congress it contends she was not an eligible candidate and therefore Entercom did not run afoul of the “lowest unit charge” rule.
The company posted the 2018 political records, including invoices of the rates charged to various local candidates for Congress, State Assembly and other offices, on Jan. 28, the date it received the FCC letter.
“Unfortunately, due to an inadvertent oversight the procedures broke down here with respect to the stations’ political file,” wrote Laura M. Berman, Entercom’s senior counsel.
The FCC sent a follow-up letter on March 5 expanding its inquiry. The agency added Entercom stations WLKK-FM, WWWS-AM, WWKB-AM and WKSE-FM to the case.
The FCC is now seeking information on both paid candidate ads and “noncandidate issue ads” for all seven stations. It set an April 4 deadline for a response.
Kevin R. Hardwick, an Erie County legislator and Canisius College political scientist who previously hosted a political talk show on WBEN, said he never had any concerns of paying an exorbitant rate when he bought political ads from an Entercom station.
He said the station employees are well-versed in the rules they must work under.
The closest and highestprofile local congressional race in 2018 pitted Collins, the incumbent Clarence Republican, against the Democrat McMurray.
Collins narrowly won his re-election fight in the Republican-dominated district, despite an indictment on federal insider trading charges, which he is fighting.
Candidate ad invoices provided by Entercom to the FCC show Collins and McMurray paid the same rates for ads of the same length running at the same time, a Buffalo News review found.
For example, on Nov. 5, the day before Election Day, both campaigns paid $110 each for one-minute ads that aired between 4 and 9 p.m. on WBEN.
Entercom did not provide documentation for how much commercial advertisers paid for their ads.
McMurray told The News he played no role in the FCC complaint.