The Federal Communication Commision announced yesterday that a CBS-owned television station in Los Angeles , KNXT, will get a one-year license renewal instead of the usual three-year contract as punishment for the network's fraudulent promotion of a tennis series.
The FCC's penalty, which was passed by a 6-1 vote, was unprecedented action against a network. The FCC said its decision to grant only a short-term renewal on a station owned and operated by a CBS was the result of the network's deceptive promotion of the "Heavyweight Championship of Tennis" series was winner-take-all matches.
CBS later acknowledge the players in the four matches, all involving Jimmy Connors, were paid a minimum $175,000 each regardless of who won. The other players were Manuel Orantes, John Newcombe, Rod Laver and Ilie Nastase.
KNXT is being placed on a one-year probation. The short-term renewal, the FCC said, "would enable (the FCC) to monitor CBS compliance with its assurances to the FCC that the deceptive practises will not recur." If there is no recurrence, an FCC spokesman said, the remaining two years of the license probably be renewed.
The network's conduct, the FCC said, "is too serious to warrant only a letter of admonition . . . (but) the circumstances do not require designation for hearing of any CBS licenses."
The FCC's decision against a licecse hearing should prevent challenges for the license.
The FCC also found that CBS had violated parts of the Communications Act by "failing to exercise reasonable diligence" to learn of agreement between Caesars Palace, where three of the matches were played, and the promoters. The arrangement provided for repeated oral and visual identification of the Las Vegas hotel.
A CBS spokewoman said, "We believe that the FCC action was not warranted by the circumstances. CBS has repeatedly and publicly apologized for its errors in connections with these broadcasts and has cooperated fully during the commission's investigation of this matter.
As we said in a special broadcast of Aprill 9, which was repeated on Aprill 16, "As a result of our experience with these matches we have instituted internal controls aimed at preventing future occurrences of this sort. We regret that these matches departed from our accustomed standards.