WASHINGTON DC: Four US radio giants have knuckled-under to media regulator the Federal Communications Commission by agreeing a $12.5 million (€9.5m; £6.48m) settlement of an investigation into payola.

The "largest collective fine in the history of American broadcasting" is supposed to "wipe off the radio dial" the practice of large record companies giving incentives to station staff in return for airplay, according to FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.

Entercom Communications will pay $4m, followed by Clear Channel Communications ($3.5m), CBS Radio ($3m) and Citadel Broadcasting ($2m). The companies have also agreed to provide airtime for local artists and independent record labels.

Declares Clear Channel evp Andy Levin: "While no violations were found we are pleased to announce that Clear Channel has agreed to settle this longstanding payola investigation with the FCC. We believe it is time to close the door on this ongoing inquiry and move forward."

Adelstein credits New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer with helping the government tackle the long-standing payola issue.

Spitzer has spent several years investigating and bringing to heel record companies and radio stations within his own jurisdiction [WARC News: 19-Jun-06].

Data sourced from Washington Post Online; additional information by WARC staff