New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer accused federal regulators Monday of going behind his back to negotiate with radio companies caught in a payoff scandal, and saying the move undercuts the case he’s been building for years.
Spitzer told The Associated Press the settlement figures being bandied about in the federal negotiations “would be a substantial evisceration of the negotiations we’re involved in.”
Talks between radio companies and the Federal Communications Commission have included possible payments of about $1 million per company, said an official familiar with the talks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are secret and are incomplete.
Spitzer’s lawyers, by contrast, have been seeking a figure closer to $20 million from each company, the official said.
Sony Corp.’s music arm has already agreed to pay $10 million to settle with Spitzer, and Warner Music Group Corp. agreed to a $5 million settlement.
Even if the radio companies strike their own bargains with the FCC, such deals would not prevent Spitzer’s office from continuing to press their own cases.
Spitzer targeted nine of the largest U.S. radio conglomerates in his probe of major artists and songs that he claims received air time because of payoffs by recording companies, and accused the Federal Communications Commission of being “asleep at the switch.”
FCC spokesman David Fiske insisted the agency would work with Spitzer, but he did not directly address Spitzer’s charges.