CISS-FM re The Sandra and Chris Show (KiSS Ottawa Goodbye contest)

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE PANEL
CBSC Decision 18/19-0748
2019 CBSC 1
July 17, 2019
S. Courtemanche (Chair), M. Galipeau, K. Kingston, K. Phillips, D. Rhéaume, C. Scott

THE FACTS

The Sandra and Chris Show is CISS-FM’s (KiSS 105.3, Ottawa) morning show that airs weekdays from 5:30 to 9:00 am. The show is hosted by Sandra Plagakis and Chris Love. From January 7 to January 17, 2019, the station was running a contest to win a trip to a resort in Jamaica. During this time period, Sandra and Chris were on location in Jamaica and broadcast their show live from there.
To enter the contest, listeners had to send a text message to the station’s number. Program hosts would present a question or topic and invite listeners to text their thoughts on the subject. The first of two trip prizes was awarded on January 11 during The Sandra and Chris Show. The second was to be awarded on January 18.

The CBSC received a complaint dated February 6 from a listener who was concerned about certain on-air statements made by the hosts about the contest on January 11. The first aspect of his complaint was that host Chris had stated that he would be drawing the winning name for the first trip around 7:45 am. The complainant explained that, according to the contest rules, the draw would actually be done by a different station employee in Ottawa at 6:00 am.

At 5:28 am, hosts Sandra and Chris had the following conversation:

Sandra: Coming up at 7:45 this morning, we’re giving away our first, but not last, trip to Sandals Jamaica!

Chris: Yes. The first one is ready to go. 7:45ish. […] And I’m excited. I can’t wait to pull the name later and find out who’s goin’ to Jamaica.

[…]

Sandra: We are very lucky to be here. And we hope the same for you this morning at 7:45. We’re broadcasting live from Sandals South Coast Jamaica.

And at 5:48:

Chris: And you’ll be able to see it [a group of peacocks at the resort] if you win the trip at 7:45. […] But you can do all of these [various activities at the resort] yourselves, KiSS family, if you win at 7:45.

The second aspect of the complaint was that, “Up until about 7:30 am, the radio station DJs claimed that they were still taking qualifiers for the first trip […]. However, looking at the rules of the contest, it stated that the draw was to occur at 6:00 am in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, by a station representative. Therefore, if true, myself [sic] and many other potential qualifiers were in fact wasting their time, sending in texts to the station between 5:30-7:30 am, as the draw would have already taken place.”

The hosts did make such comments, the first at 6:43 am:

Chris: Yeah, and don’t forget, every time you send a text, uh, you are automatically entered for our first trip, which we’ll give away in about one hour.

At 7:13 am:

Chris: All right, don’t forget the first trip that we are giving away, the first of many, will be given away in about 30 minutes’ time. If you, uh, win, you get your choice of Sandals resorts anywhere here in Jamaica. So, an incredible trip up for grabs. Thirty minutes away. If you want to participate, uh, in the conversation at 31053, that will get you entered for the first trip.

The winner of the first trip was announced at 8:12 am. At around 8:21 am, Sandra said:

Sandra: Good job, KiSS family. We’re all happy for each other, even if you don’t win, you have more chances to win because right, as of right now, we are re-setting.

Chris: Yep.

Sandra: Re-setting this whole thing. So continue to text with us, with Amy, with Robbin and Ryan, and with Cruise right into the weekend. And every time you text, that’s good for one entry. And week from today, we’re going to be giving away our next trip to Sandals Jamaica.

(A longer transcript of the morning show host’s comments about the contest is in Appendix A).

The official contest rules that were posted on the station’s website stated the following:

3. WHEN DOES THE CONTEST START/END?

You may enter the Contest between 6am on January 7th, 2019 and 11:59pm on January 17th, 2019 (“Entry Period”). All times referenced in these Official Rules are Eastern.

4. HOW DO I ENTER THE CONTEST?

No purchase is necessary to enter the Contest.

To enter the Contest, send a text message during the Entry Period to 31053. Such message may be sent via a cellular telephone that is capable of two-way messaging. Your carrier’s standard text message or short code message and data rates may apply.

[…]

10. HOW WILL THE POTENTIAL WINNER(S) BE SELECTED?

On January 11th and January 18th, 2019 at approximately 6am in Ottawa, Ontario at 2001 Thurston Drive Rogers will conduct a random draw from among all eligible entries received. For each prize to be awarded pursuant to these Official Rules, one entrant will be randomly selected as a potential winner on each date and notified using the information provided at the time of entry. […]

(Only the most relevant portions of the rules are quoted here. The full rules are in Appendix C.)

The broadcaster responded to the complainant on March 7. It explained that CISS-FM had followed the official contest rules and the winner had been randomly selected in Ottawa at 6:00 am. The on-air hosts had only implied that they would be doing the draw from Jamaica in an attempt to “build excitement” and “as dramatic effect”. The broadcaster also explained that “The entries for this contest were considered ‘rolling’ entries, which meant that any qualifying text messages that were sent in after the draw on January 11, 2019 were rolled into the draw on January 18, 2019. This is why the on-air hosts encouraged listeners to continue to enter after the first draw took place, as there was still a chance to win for the next draw.” The station did not consider that either of these elements rendered the contest misleading since none of the hosts’ comments changed the fundamental rules and guidelines of the contest.

The complainant filed his Ruling Request on March 20. He pointed out that the contest rules made no mention of the “rolling entry” nature of the contest. He insisted that, regardless, it was inaccurate for the hosts to encourage people to continue texting for the first draw when that draw had already occurred. He acknowledged that the comments did not affect the outcome of the winner, but nevertheless felt that the station’s explanation about “‘entertainment value’ is an unacceptable excuse”. The complainant also sent another message on June 3 outlining his concerns about some previous CISS-FM’s contests and how the station conducts contests in general.

CISS-FM provided some additional information to the CBSC on June 10. It reiterated its view that the on-air inducement to enter the contest after the first draw took place was not misleading enough to a degree that would constitute a breach of the code. The station pointed out again that “anyone who texted before or after the January 11th draw and did not win was automatically made eligible for the January 18th draw. Accordingly, in our view, any on-air inducement to enter the contest between January 11th and 17th was entirely in keeping with the contest rules and in no way prejudiced the complainant or any other contestants’ ability to participate in and/or win one of the two trips being given away, as the contest did not close until the end of the entry period on January 17th, 2019.” The broadcaster also noted that words uttered by Sandra made it clear that the contest did not end on January 11.

(The full text of all correspondence is in Appendix B.)

THE DECISION

The English-Language Panel examined the complaint under Clause 12 (Contests and Promotions) of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics which reads as follows:

All on-air contests and promotions shall be conceived and conducted fairly and legitimately and particular care shall be taken to ensure that they are not misleading, potentially dangerous or likely to give rise to a public inconvenience or disturbance and that any prizes offered or promises made are what they are represented to be.

The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and listened to a recording of the challenged broadcast. The Panel concludes that CISS-FM breached Clause 12 for presenting misleading information about the contest when it incorrectly stated on air that entries submitted after 6:00 am on January 11 continued to be eligible for the first draw of the contest.

The questions put to the Panel were:

Did the broadcaster violate Clause 12 of the CAB Code of Ethics (Contests and Promotions) regarding the matter of where and when the actual contest draw was to occur?

Did the broadcaster violate Clause 12 of the CAB Code of Ethics (Contests and Promotions) on the issue of whether entries submitted after 6:00 am on January 11 continued to be eligible for the first draw of the subject contest?

The Panel considers that statements made by the on-air staff regarding the timing and location of the actual contest draw do not materially affect the outcome of the contest and, therefore, do not breach Clause 12 of the CAB Code of Ethics (Contests and Promotions).

The on-air comments made do not actually state that the actual draw would take place at 7:45 am, but rather, that they would be “giving away” the first trip at around “7:45ish”. The Panel considers that this could have meant the time at which the broadcaster would be contacting the winner or, possibly, the time at which the winner’s name would be announced on-air. The fact is that these two events plus the draw itself do not necessarily all have to occur at the same time. Furthermore, it is not problematic that the announcement of the winner’s name occurred around 8:00 am since it was clear that the 7:45 am time was only an approximate timeframe.

Although the on-air staff did state that they could not “wait to pull the name later”, it is clear from the broadcaster’s response that “the draw was made in Ottawa at 6:00 AM ET by a station promotions coordinator” in accordance with the contest rules posted on the station’s website. The Panel considers that whether it was the on-air announcer or another station employee who chose the name by whatever selection method chosen, the selection process was random whether it occurred in Jamaica or Ottawa and that this does not materially affect the outcome of the contest. In the end, the winner was legitimately chosen at random in accordance with the contest rules and this technical inaccuracy does not render the entire context so misleading as to constitute a breach.

The Panel also understands that broadcasters, especially when it comes to announcing winners of contests, like to engage their audiences and generate as much excitement as possible. Often contests occur during ratings periods and on-air staff are encouraged to create as much engagement as possible with the station’s audience. Such engagement is entirely appropriate as long as it is consistent with the contest rules. In this case, the contest rules required the selection of the winner to be done randomly, which was what occurred in this circumstance.

On the second issue of whether contest participants would qualify for the first trip if they continued to text their entries between 6:00 am and 8:12 am (the time at which the first winner was announced), the Panel has determined that statements made by the on-air staff were in fact misleading and contrary to Clause 12 of the CAB Code of Ethics.

The contest rules were clear that the draw for the winner of the first trip would occur at 6:00 am on January 11. According to the broadcaster’s letter, this is what in fact occurred as noted above. The on-air staff, in wanting to create enthusiasm for the contest and the announcement of the first winner, indicated in two separate instances, one at 6:43 am and then again at 7:13 am that if audience members continued to send in text entries, they would be eligible to win the “first trip”. These statements were factually incorrect as the draw for the first trip had already taken place. Moreover, it created the misleading impression that audience members who hurried up and made entries would still have had two opportunities to win the contest when in reality there was only one opportunity left to win.

The Panel understands that the broadcaster does not consider that the statements made by the on-air staff were misleading since “entries for this contest were considered ‘rolling’ entries”. The Panel notes that the contest rules posted on the station’s website do not provide any information regarding the “rolling” nature of the contest entries. Rather they simply state the time period during which someone can make entries to win. Although it is true, as claimed by the broadcaster in its additional comments, that on-air staff did not prejudice audience members to continue to have a chance to win since all entries after 6:00 am on January 11 would automatically make entrants eligible for the January 18 draw, the on-air statements gave the misleading impression, as noted above, that there were still two opportunities to win when in reality the opportunity to win had decreased by 50% after 6:00 am.

It is true and it was clear, both in the contest rules and with on-air statements made, that any new entries made after 6:00 am gave audience members a continued opportunity to win and, therefore, entries made after this time were not a waste of time. However, the Panel considers that the issue revolves on whether in fact there were one or two opportunities left to actually win the contest if these entries were made after 6:00 am as a result of the statements made by on-air staff between 6:00 and 8:00 am on January 11.

The Panel does not believe that either the station or its on-air staff had any intention of misleading its audiences in this regard. As noted above, it is understandable that broadcasters seek to encourage and create as much engagement as possible with the station’s audiences when conducting contests. However, contest rules are the official barometer of how a fair and legitimate contest is conducted. In this case, contest rules could not be modified on-air to give the impression that there were still two opportunities left to win. Given this, it may be useful for broadcasters to remind on-air staff of the contest rules to ensure that all on-air inducements concur with the station’s posted contest rules.

Broadcaster Responsiveness

In all CBSC decisions, the Panels assess the broadcaster’s response to the complainant. The broadcaster need not agree with the complainant’s position, but it must respond in a courteous, thoughtful and thorough manner. In this case, CISS-FM provided a fulsome reply to the complainant, outlining its view of the broadcast. The broadcaster fulfilled its obligations of responsiveness and, subject to the announcement of this decision, nothing further is required on this occasion.

DECISION ANNOUNCEMENT

CISS-FM is required to: 1) announce the decision, in the following terms, once during peak listening hours within three days following the release of this decision and once more within seven days following the release of this decision during the time period in which The Sandra and Chris Show was broadcast, but not on the same day as the first mandated announcement; 2) within the fourteen days following the broadcasts of the announcements, to provide written confirmation of the airing of the statement to the complainant who filed the Ruling Request; and 3) at that time, to provide the CBSC with a copy of that written confirmation and with air check copies of the broadcasts of the two announcements which must be made by CISS-FM.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council found that KiSS FM Ottawa breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics during The Sandra and Chris Show on January 11, 2019. Misleading information was given about a contest, which was contrary to Clause 12 of the Code.

This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

APPENDIX A

The Sandra and Chris Show is CISS-FM’s (KiSS 105.3, Ottawa) morning show that airs weekdays from 5:30 to 9:00 am. The show is hosted by Sandra Plagakis and Chris Love. In between songs, the hosts banter about a variety of topics. From January 7 to January 17, 2019, the station was running a contest to win a trip to a resort in Jamaica. During this time period, Sandra and Chris were on location in Jamaica and broadcast their show live from there.

To enter the contest, listeners had to send a text message to the station’s number. Program hosts would present a question or topic and invite listeners to text their thoughts on the subject. The first of two trip prizes was awarded on January 11 during The Sandra and Chris Show. The second was to be awarded on January 18.

The following is a transcript of the relevant moments from the January 11 show.

5:18 am

promo for contest:

male narrator: KiSS family, it’s your chance to kiss Ottawa goodbye.

female voice: Bye.

female voice: Bye.

[airplane sound]

male narrator: And say hello to Sandals.

multiple voices (male & female): Hello.

female narrator: You could win a week-long luxury included vacation to Sandals South Coast. A chance for you to escape winter to paradise.

male narrator: Exchange that shovel, winter coat and boots for flip-flops, sandy beaches, gourmet meals and fancy drinks by the pool.

female narrator: All you have to do is shoot us a text at 31053.

male narrator: Join the conversation this week by text and you are in.

female narrator: Full details at kissottawa.com. Standard rates may apply. Please don’t text and drive.

male narrator: Kiss Ottawa goodbye with Sandals resorts and KiSS 105.3.

5:28 am

female narrator: The Sandra and Chris Show.

male narrator: Live from Sandals South Coast Jamaica. KiSS 105.3.

Sandra: Good morning KiSS family. This is the day. This could be the best day of your life. This could be the first day of the rest of your life. Coming up at 7:45 this morning we’re giving away our first, but not last, trip to Sandals Jamaica!

Chris: Yes. The first one is ready to go. 7:45ish. Uh, and what a day to win it too. Inside a deep freeze. [Sandra gasps] Inside a deep freeze. If there’s a day to win a trip to go and bury yourself in the sand, today is the day to do it. [Sandra laughs] And I’m excited. I can’t wait to pull the name later and find out who’s goin’ to Jamaica.

Sandra: Yeah, and then you guys won’t hate us so much if you win a trip. Because we were getting texts yesterday from people saying [affects whiny voice] “Oh, we can hear the birds chirping in the background. We can hear the ambient noise of people laughing at the pool bar and having the …” You know what? That’s not what this week has been about. This week has been about, um, you know, scoping this place out for you. Um, I actually did save a little spot underneath a coconut or underneath a palm tree for the winner of this trip. So just know that we’re givers.

Chris: I wondered why I got kicked out of that seat.

Sandra: That’s why. I’m saving it.

Chris: I wondered why.

Sandra: I’m saving it for the winner of this trip. And we’re going to find out later on this morning. So don’t forget, keep joining the conversation. Keep texting. It doesn’t stop today. With Amy. With Robbin and Ryan. With Cruise. Just keep it going. And, uh, every time you send us a text at 31053 you’re entered. Simple.

Chris: Yeah. Easy peasy. It does not get easier than that. So yesterday we had a really, really nice day. [talks about visiting a school related to Sandals’s charity work]

Sandra: We are very lucky to be here. And we hope the same for you this morning at 7:45. We’re broadcasting live from Sandals South Coast Jamaica.

promo:

male narrator: The Sandra and Chris Show.

female narrator: Text 31053. Join the conversation.

male: KiSS 105.3.

[songs]

5:48 am

Chris: [talking about the peacocks wandering around resort] And you’ll be able to see it if you win the trip at 7:45. [talk about other things they have done during their stay at resort] But you can do all of these yourselves, KiSS family, if you win at 7:45. Right?

Sandra: Absolutely, KiSS family. Good luck in the draw two hours from now. We’re broadcasting live from Sandals South Coast Jamaica.

promo:

male voice: The Sandra and Chris Show.

female voice: Text 31053. Join the conversation.

6:16 am

Sandra: All right, KiSS family, we’re down here broadcasting live at Sandals South Coast Jamaica and we’re going to be giving our first trip away in just under two hours’ time. But let’s talk about the reality of five-star luxurious vacations. In fact, any time you travel, chances are, when you’re out of your element sometimes you get a little discombobulated and sometimes you, like, I’m not, wherever I go, for example, I always bring Band-Aids with me. Because I know there’s a ninety-nine point seven percent chance I will fall and skin my knee, which is exactly what happened here at, at Sandals South Coast Jamaica. [talk about minor accidents/injuries that they’ve endured on this vacation] And we know it’s happened to you too, KiSS family, so let’s start a conversation and don’t forget, every time you text, you’re still entered to, uh, win this trip to Sandals Jamaica. Tell us about your vacation mishap.

male voice: The Sandra and Chris Show.

female: Text 31053. Join the conversation.

male: KiSS 105.3.

6:43 am

Sandra: So KiSS family, we’re talking about your vacation mishaps.

Chris: Yeah, and don’t forget, every time you send a text, uh, you are automatically entered for our first trip, which we’ll give away in about one hour.

Sandra: One hour.

Chris: The first trip being given away in about one hour.

6:49 am

male narrator: KiSS family, it’s your chance to kiss Ottawa goodbye.

female voice: Bye.

female voice: Bye.

[airplane sound]

male narrator: And say hello to Sandals.

multiple voices (male & female): Hello.

female narrator: You could win a week-long luxury included vacation to Sandals South Coast. A chance for you to escape winter to paradise.

male narrator: Exchange that shovel, winter coat and boots for flip-flops, sandy beaches, gourmet meals and fancy drinks by the pool.

female narrator: All you have to do is shoot us a text at 31053.

male narrator: Join the conversation this week by text and you are in.

female narrator: Full details at kissottawa.com. Standard rates may apply. Please don’t text and drive.

male narrator: Kiss Ottawa goodbye with Sandals resorts and KiSS 105.3.

7:10 am

male voice: The Sandra and Chris Show.

female: Text 31053. Join the conversation.

male: KiSS 105.3.

7:13 am

Chris: All right, don’t forget the first trip that we are giving away, the first of many, will be given away in about 30 minutes’ time. If you, uh, win, you get your choice of Sandals resorts anywhere here in Jamaica. So an incredible trip up for grabs. Thirty minutes away. If you want to participate, uh, in the conversation at 31053, that will get you entered for the first trip. [talk about Sandra’s elaborate drink orders & Chris ordering 2 entrées] And you’re allowed to do that, KiSS family. If you win the first trip, you can come down here and you can order as much as you like. And, uh, you can order, you know, fancy drinks like Sandra does at the bar. [“conversation” is to share your “high maintenance move”, i.e. something in your life that you insist be done a particular way or you get upset] Uh, 31053 on the text. We’re broadcasting live from Sandals South Coast Jamaica.

male voice: The Sandra and Chris Show.

female: Text 31053. Join the conversation.

male: KiSS 105.3.

8:00 am

– they try to call listener Maggie, but have technical difficulties; they get producer to put her on hold & tell her to listen to the radio

Chris: So Maggie’s now on hold.

Sandra: Okay, so Ma-

Chris: I heard her whisper in the ear.

Sandra: Okay, so we know that Maggie is on hold. And Maggie, we know that you can hear us right now even though we can’t hear you. And we did call you because, uh, we wanted to ask you what the weather was like in Ottawa, but that was a cheap ruse, wasn’t it?

Chris: It was.

Sandra: We had it all planned. It was pretty elaborate in our brains.

Chris: We had this in this glorious way of giving some good news this Friday morning, but, yeah, it kinda, it kinda fell apart on us, didn’t it?

Sandra: It kind of fell apart on us. On our end. But on your end things are looking pretty good, Maggie, because we have something very exciting to tell you. You are going to Sandals Jamaica!

Chris: Whooo!

Sandra: Five-star, luxury –

Chris: Yes!

Sandra: — included, uh, love is in the air. It’s a couples resort. It is magical. There is nothing like a Sandals resort. And we know you are a proud member of the KiSS family and you entered this week by joining the conversation. And we want to reward you for that and you are going to paradise.

Chris: Oh, absolutely glorious. Man, I wish we could hear her reaction. I really do!

Sandra: Can I pretend to be Maggie?

[they enact scenario of telling contestant she won, with Sandra pretending to be Maggie]

Sandra: Maggie, that was for you girl. You’re going to Jamaica.

Chris: KiSS family, good, good news. That was just the first of many, many trips. So all you have to do to win the next one, starting right now, join the conversation at 31053. You can do it with us, with Amy, with Robbin or Ryan, with Cruise even on the weekends. Uh, it’s a trip all up for grabs. Trip number two will be given away next Friday. But Maggie, oh Maggie, Maggie, you okay? You calming down now, Maggie?

[Sandra still pretending to be Maggie]

8:21 am

Chris: All right, so, uh, moments ago, we gave away our first of many trips, uh, to Sandals in Jamaica. Congratulations, Maggie. What warms my heart is all over our texting board, so many people are on Maggie’s side and saying ‘congratulations’, ‘have a great time’, uh, so, it’s just so nice.

Sandra: Yeah, you guys –

Chris: The KiSS family saying you know what, I didn’t win, but congratulations, Maggie.

Sandra: Yeah.

Chris: Says a lot about the KiSS family. Way to go.

Sandra: Good job, KiSS family. We’re all happy for each other, even if you don’t win, you have more chances to win because right, as of right now, we are re-setting.

Chris: Yep.

Sandra: Re-setting this whole thing. So continue to text with us, with Amy, with Robbin and Ryan, and with Cruise right into the weekend. And every time you text, that’s good for one entry. And week from today, we’re going to be giving away our next trip to Sandals Jamaica.

Chris: Yeah, we’re not slowing down. Forget about it. We are not slowing down. We got so many of these trips to give away. So chances look pretty good. So just, like Sandra said, continue to join the conversation.

8:28 am

Chris: The other piece of good news is that everybody that just sent a text, you’re automatically qualified now. You’re in the draw for trip number two, which is next Friday.

Sandra: Beautiful.

Chris: It’s the easiest way to win a trip.

Sandra: You’re having a great Friday.

Chris: Sandals.

Sandra: Look at you.

Chris: Yeah.

8:34 am

Chris: Well, once again, congratulations going out to KiSS family member Maggie who picked up the first trip to go to Sandals in Jamaica. Her choice of Sandals resorts too. Which, I really hope that you get to pick Sandals South Coast ʼcause this place, absolutely gorgeous. That’s not the end, though, ʼcause, family, don’t forget, uh, we have another trip on Friday. Then another one after that, then another one after that, then another one after that.

Sandra: Oh!

Chris: So lots of chances. We were just lucky enough to be the first ones to come down. Now it’s going to be Maggie coming down and then who knows. It could be you coming down next. But a lot of chances. And to win, all you have to do is join the conversation all day long, any time you want at 31053. And you’re automatically entered for a beautiful trip, a beautiful getaway to, I like the way they say, the sexy South Coast of Jamaica.

Sandra: The sexy South Coast.

Chris: Yeah.

Sandra: And we really have a lot people to thank for putting this incredible week together. Of course we’re broadcasting live and with that comes a lot of technical challenges and a lot of people behind the scenes that you don’t even hear about, KiSS family. [thanks tech support people, etc.]

APPENDIX B

The Complaint

The CBSC received the following complaint via its webform on February 6, 2019:

Television or Radio Station: 105.3 KISS FM (CISS)

Program Name: Sandra and Chris Show

Date of Program: 2019/01/11

Time of Program: 05:00

Specific Concern: At around 5:30 AM, Chris Love stated “I will be making a draw later on this morning for our first trip to Sandals”.

Later on he mentioned that he thought that it would take place around 7:45 AM.

In previous communication with the radio station, they stated that the DJs do not make the draws for a contest winner. They are simply handed a name from the individual doing the draw.

The way to qualify for a trip to Sandals was to “join the conversation”, by texting a message to the radio station. Up until about 7:30 AM, the radio station DJs claimed that they were still taking qualifiers for the first trip to Sandals. They were broadcasting live from Jamaica on January 11, 2019.

However, looking at the rules of the contest, it stated that the draw was to occur at 6:00 AM in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, by a station representative. Therefore, if true, myself [sic] and many other potential qualifiers, were in fact wasting their time, sending in texts to the station between 5:30-7:30 AM, as the draw would have already taken place.

[B. R.], the promotions director for 1053 KISS FM was on site at the Sandals resort in Jamaica and likely heard Chris Love’s comment about who would do the draw and when, and never at any time was Chris Love’s comment corrected. Nor was it corrected by the “boss” of Kiss FM, [A. D.], who likely did the draw and was also likely listening to the broadcast in Ottawa, Ontario.

I believe that the station violated clause 12 in the code of conduct, because it was misleading.

I have already complained about this to [S. W.], the ombudsman for Rogers, and expressed my concern.

Also what is disturbing is that the radio station refuses to show the name of the first four Sandals winners on their website of contest winners, despite that they have also done so in recent years.

Something else that I would like to include under additional correspondence is an event that occurred during last year’s Sandals contest.

A contestant with the initials MM won a trip to Sandals through a Meme contest (commenting on photo by making your own bubble comic strip). There were hundreds of entries over four days and you could post as many as you wanted for each meme. MM only posted two, while some others posted five per day. The draw was supposed to be random. MM received a direct message to her Facebook account around 5:25 in the morning telling her to check her direct messages. She then went on social media and mentioned that she won a trip to Sandals for a Meme she posted the night before, even though she had posted two Memes. Someone asked her on social media twice as to how she knew which Meme had won, but she refused to respond to the question. MM had the same first name who was “chummy” to Sandra Plagakis and Carter Brown (DJs at Kiss FM at the time) and would call in many times as she did charity work and finding home for dogs and cats. She was following Kiss on Twitter and they and Sandra Plagakis were following her.

On her Twitter page MM states “they called me to talk about my Meme, but then they said, ‘we don’t want to discuss your Meme, we just wanted to give you a trip’!” That alone could be an indication that it wasn’t a random draw.

Of bigger concern, however, is that when I logged into the 1053 KISS FM Facebook page after the draw was done, I found my wife [K. G.] and MM as the last two entries for the Meme contest on the Thursday night before the Friday draw. When they clicked onto their Facebook page early Friday morning, they would have seen MM’s name, and would have recognized it because she used to call into the show and Sandra Plagakis was following her on Twitter.

Unfortunately it does give the appearance to myself, based on previous flaws with this station’s methods of conducting contests, that the draw for MM may not have been random, but as KISS said to MM “we just wanted to give you a trip”.

Finally, I have all the paperwork to back the MM winning the trip and have verbally given all this information to [S. W.], the Ombudsman for Rogers. She told me that she would be corresponding to 1053 KISS FM this and I still have not had a response from her or the station on this. I find it very disturbing that over the last 4 years, their Sandals contests have appeared to be misleading and may not have the appearance of being run fairly and legitimately.

Broadcaster Response

The broadcaster responded to the complainant on March 7:

We have received your complaint concerning the announcement of a contest winner that was made on The Sandra and Chris Show on KiSS 105.3 Ottawa (CISS-FM) on January 11, 2019 at approximately 7:45 AM ET.

In your complaint, you state that on January 11, 2019, Chris Love stated that he would be making a draw later in the morning for the trip to Sandals. You further state that the official contest rules state that the draw was to take place at 6:00 AM in Ottawa, but the draw actually took place at 7:45 AM in Jamaica, which you believe was misleading to the contestants who were still submitting their text messages to qualify for the contest.

As you may be aware, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) is an independent organization that administers codes and standards proposed by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), and approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). CISS-FM is owned and operated by Rogers Media Inc. (Rogers) and is an associate in good standing with the CBSC.

The codes and standards administered by the CBSC include the CAB Code of Ethics (the “Code”). Based on your complaint, we agree that the following clause is applicable to the challenged broadcast and will be relevant for determining whether a breach of the Code occurred:

Clause 12 – Contests and Promotions

All on-air contests and promotions shall be conceived and conducted fairly and legitimately and particular care shall be taken to ensure that they are not misleading, potentially dangerous or likely to give rise to a public inconvenience or disturbance and that any prizes offered or promises made are what they are represented to be.

We have reviewed the logger for the broadcast in question, and can confirm that at 5:30 AM ET, Mr. Love stated that he would be drawing a winning name “later on” and the announcement would be made at approximately 7:45 AM ET.

We have spoken with CISS-FM’s Program Director, as well as the Promotions Director to confirm the details of this contest. Between January 7 and January 17, 2019, two Sandals trips were given away on January 11 and January 18, 2019. The entries for this contest were considered “rolling” entries, which meant that any qualifying text messages that were sent in after the draw on January 11, 2019 were rolled into the draw on January 18, 2019. This is why the on-air hosts encouraged listeners to continue to enter after the first draw took place, as there was still a chance to win for the next draw.

In regards to your concerns regarding the actual selection of the winner, we can confirm that on January 11, 2019, the draw was made in Ottawa at 6:00 AM ET by a station promotions coordinator, and the name was provided to the on-air hosts for the announcement which took place at 8:10 AM ET. Although the on-air hosts attempted to build excitement by stating they would be conducting the draw of the winner from Jamaica as a dramatic effect, we do not believe that this was misleading. The person who draws the name does not change any of the fundamental rules and guidelines of the contest, which stated that the winner would be selected at approximately 6:00 AM ET. Furthermore, given the “rolling” entry method described above, listeners who continued to text after the first draw took place would have qualified for the second draw on January 18, 2019.

We submit that we have complied with our contest rules and carried out the contest as it was promoted. The qualification and selection process of entries were done according to the contest rules and for this reason, it is our position that this contest was not misleading, and as such, did not breach Clause 12 of the Code.

Thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to our attention and to express your concerns about our station. We value the opinion of our listeners and appreciate the opportunity to respond to your complaint directly.

Additional Correspondence

The complainant submitted his Ruling Request on March 20:

I would like to request a ruling on this complaint.

[S. W.] is admitting that Chris Love didn’t make the draw and the draw occurred earlier than he mention[ed] and the draw took place in Ottawa. I never said the draw would take place in Jamaica; Chris Love did so, by saying that he would do the draw and since he was in Jamaica, then it would have to take place there.

The “rolling” entries is a big joke because there was no mention of it in the contest rules and the station had to grasp at straws to come up with an explanation.

Also the on-air host specifically kept saying that when you “join the conversation” then you would be entered into the first draw, not the next one on January 18.

Furthermore, after I complained to [S. W.], she clearly communicated with the radio station, because for the next four consecutive draws starting January 18, 2019, the station no longer was accepting text messages until the winner’s name was announced!

So if the station was doing nothing wrong or deceitful with their contest regulations, why did they change the way they did things for the next four draws?

The answer is clear: they realized that they had been misleading and deceitful.

Quite frankly, I am surprised after taking almost two weeks for [S. W.] to make her rebuttal that she came back with such a weak explanation.

In fact she is admitting that the station did not follow the contest rules that were set out.

While their method during the draw on January 11, 2019 may not have affected the outcome of the winner, their “entertainment value” is an unacceptable excuse and, in previous Sandals contests, it has caused much controversy and, in my opinion, has affected the integrity of the station!

The complainant sent an additional email on June 3 raising issues with respect to a previous CISS-FM contest and the station’s general administration of contests:

Subject: Need your advice on my options for non-recorded questionable conduct from a radio station

I have deep concern about a radio station that has already had a ruling against them during 2016 (105.3 CISS FM the Big Bag of Cash).

During January 2018, the above-named radio station had a contest where you could win a trip to a Sandals resort worth approximately $6000. They had a different meme with a picture each day for 4 days. The contestants simply had to respond to the different picture each day through a meme on Facebook. There were hundreds of entries every day, including some contestants who entered as many as 5 different memes each day. The contestant that won had only entered a total of 2 memes in the total of four day[s]. The draw was supposed to be a random draw, according to the rules and not based on the most original or best meme.

The contestant was informed that she won by 5:28 on Friday Jan 12, 2018.

There are several reasons that I am suspicious that it was not a random draw, but rather a hand-picked winner. 1) When 1053 KISS/CISS FM would have logged into their Facebook page, the top 2 names showing on their Facebook page were [K. G.] (my wife) and a [M. M.]. [M. M.] is the contestant who won. 2) This woman has done much charitable work and was known to call in the station and was known to Sandra Plagakis, who also followed [M. M.] on Twitter on vice versa. 3) [M. M.] stated that KISS FM called her to talk about her meme that she posted on Thursday and then told her “we don’t want to talk about your meme, we just wanted to give you a trip”. She also posted a meme on Tuesday, so if KISS did a random draw how would they know which meme was the one picked randomly? The answer, they were likely “drawn” to her name, because Sandra would have recognized her name, since Sandra was following her on Twitter and [M. M.] calls into their morning show. 4) I did an anonymous reply on Twitter to [M. M.] and asked her how she knew that her Thursday meme won and not her Tuesday meme and asked her if the radio station had told her which meme had won. [M. M.] never replied, even after I re-sent the tweet! Remember, there were hundreds of memes sent over 4 days, including some who sent a total of 20 each. I find it questionable that the person that won would have had their name visible when a staff at KISS FM would have logged onto their Facebook page early on Friday morning!

The next four weeks they did a phone-in Sandals contest where the 15th caller had to complete the song lyrics to qualify for a trip to Sandals. I got through approximately 41 times during the four weeks and on every occasion except four times, I was told what caller I was before the dj heard me talk, which is the correct and fair way to administer a phone-in contest. However, on one occasion [R. L.] (who didn’t recognize my voice) answered “Kiss FM” and, upon me asking what caller I was, named me caller 15. However, there were 3 times that [A. D.] (who all the staff at KISS call their boss) answered the phone with “Kiss FM” and upon hearing my voice told me that I was caller 13 or caller 14, when he should have told me that before he heard me talk. Also [A. D.] did answer the phone many times with me and did tell me that I was a caller from 1-13 before he heard me talk. I am under the conclusion that it would [have] indicated that I was caller 15 with [A. D.] 3 times, but he simply didn’t want to give me a chance to win a big prize, as he does know my voice.

I complained to the promotions coordinator, [L. P.], as [A. D.] was not available to talk to me and she assured me that [A. D.] would get back to me. I made several follow-up calls and to this day [A. D.] refuses to contact me or explain why he did what he did.

I don’t believe that I have won a prize worth over $100 on KISS FM since 2006 and I believe that the station is screening, discriminating against me and blocking me from having a chance to win some of their bigger prizes. My wife won a $10,000 shopping spree in 2005 and they even tried to block me from getting into the same contest during the following year, 2006.

There have been so many problems that I have had with this station for years and it has affected my health at times. I also believe that I have lost monetary value, when it appears that I was the right caller.

I also believe that a couple of the dj’s that have been fired by the station were told to not let me win, because I used to win more than most people when the station started up and it would appear to be bad business to the station if the same person kept winning, as it would make it look like their listenership was small to their advertisers.

Some of the on-air complaints that I have made to the CBSC over the last 5 years are just the tip of the iceberg, towards the supporting documentation that I have, that would suggest that the station is not holding up their end towards the integrity of running their contests in a fair and legitimate manner and I believe they are violating their own codes of conduct. Even [D. K.], who I believe is the owner of the radio group on Thurston Drive stated once that “if anyone at the station was blocking you from winning, it would be a violations [sic] of our policies”. Well, I believe that this has happened and also some of the winners of big contests are not always being selected at random.

To sum it up, I know that you may not be able to do anything about it, given your position, but perhaps you could steer me in the right direction? Should I be getting a tort lawyer? Do you have a contact person that I could reach out to? I believe that I should be entitled to some sort of compensation, as I have definitely suffered emotionally and my health has been compromised at times and I believe that I have also lost out on money and prizes at the station, because I believe that they have discriminated against me at times, over the years……..

The CBSC responded that it cannot deal with off-air issues and that a Panel would be examining his complaint about the “KiSS Ottawa Goodbye” contest shortly.

CISS-FM/Rogers submitted additional information directly to the CBSC on June 10:

Rogers Media Inc. (Rogers) thanks the CBSC for the opportunity to provide the Council with additional information regarding the above-noted complaint which relates to a Sandals Jamaica contest on CISS-FM.

As we explained in our initial response, the Sandals Jamaica contest offered listeners an opportunity to enter and win a trip to Jamaica by texting the station. As stated in the contest rules (noted below) a total of two draws took place on January 11th and 18th, 2019 for this particular contest. As outlined in the contest’s official rules, and contrary to the listener’s complaint, any listener who texted in – throughout the entire contest period – was entered in the contest. In other words, anyone who texted before or after the January 11th draw and did not win was automatically made eligible for the January 18th draw. Accordingly, in our view, any on-air inducement to enter the contest between January 11th and 17th was entirely in keeping with the contest rules and in no way prejudiced the complainant or any other contestants’ ability to participate in and/or win one of the two trips being given away, as the contest did not close until the end of the entry period on January 17th, 2019.

It is our understanding that the complainant’s allegation is that the on-air inducement to enter the contest after the first draw took place was misleading to a degree that would constitute a breach of the Code. We respectfully disagree.

Clause 12 of the CAB Code of Ethics (the Code) dealing with contests and promotions provides that “[a]ll on-air contests and promotions shall be conceived and conducted fairly and legitimately and particular care shall be taken to ensure that they are not misleading, potentially dangerous or likely to give rise to a public inconvenience or disturbance and that any prizes offered or promises made are what they are represented to be.” (emphasis added)

We have again carefully reviewed the logger files and while we acknowledge that one of the hosts, Chris Mott [sic, Love, although his real last name is Mott], continued to invite listeners to text in their entries after the first draw had already taken place on January 11th, his co-host Sandra Plagakis made it clear that the contest did not end that day. Accordingly, we respectfully submit that Mr. Mott’s comments were not misleading to the degree that would undermine the fair and legitimate conduct of the contest as anyone responding to his inducement was in fact entered into the contest and was eligible to win the contest as described in the official rules.

Relevant sections of the official rules of this contest state the following:

These Official Rules govern the Contest. By participating or attempting to participate in the Contest, you will be deemed to have received, understood, and agreed to these Official Rules.

3. WHEN DOES THE CONTEST START/END?

You may enter the Contest between 6am on January 7th, 2019 and 11:59pm on January 17th, 2019 (“Entry Period”). All times referenced in these Official Rules are Eastern.

4. HOW DO I ENTER THE CONTEST?

No purchase is necessary to enter the Contest.

To enter the Contest, send a text message during the Entry Period to 31053. Such message may be sent via a cellular telephone that is capable of two-way messaging. Your carrier’s standard text message or short code message and data rates may apply. (emphasis added)

10. HOW WILL THE POTENTIAL WINNER(S) BE SELECTED?

On January 11th and January 18th, 2019 at approximately 6am in Ottawa, Ontario at 2001 Thurston Drive Rogers will conduct a random draw from among all eligible entries received. For each prize to be awarded pursuant to these Official Rules, one entrant will be randomly selected as a potential winner on each date and notified using the information provided at the time of entry. In the event any potential winner does not respond to such notification within three (3) business days, declines a prize for any reason, or does not meet the requirements set forth in these Official Rules, as determined by the Sponsors, the potential winner will be disqualified and, time permitting, an alternate potential winner may be randomly selected from among remaining eligible entries, or the prize may be cancelled.

Rogers respectfully submits that it was made apparent to all listeners through both the contest rules and on-air statements that the entry period did not end on January 11, 2019. It was mentioned on-air multiple times that the chances of winning were still open. It was also made clear that day during the show by Mr. Mott’s co-host Sandra Plagakis that the contest did not end on January 11th. Specifically, co-host Sandra Plagakis made the following statement on January 11th on-air:

“We’re going to find out later on this morning. Don’t forget to keep joining the conversation! Keep texting. It doesn’t stop today! With Amy, with Robbin and Ryan, with Cruise, just keep it going and every time you send us a text at 31053 you’re entered!”

While Mr. Mott encouraged listeners to text in to enter the contest after the first draw had already taken place, we suggest it was clear to listeners, including the complainant, that the contest was open until January 17th based on both the contest rules and his co-host’s on-air statements. Anyone responding to Mr. Mott’s on-air inducements to enter the contest was automatically entered into the second draw for the next giveaway on January 18, 2019 as was set out in the contest rules. Accordingly, Mr. Mott’s inducement to enter the contest was legitimately made as contestants were still eligible to win and their texts were entered for the January 18th draw.

Moreover, it is clear from the listener’s complaint that he had read the official rules of the contest in detail which made it clear that “…[b]y participating or attempting to participate in the Contest, you will be deemed to have received, understood, and agreed to these Official Rules.”.

For these reasons, we do not believe that this broadcast was misleading, and disagree that contestants were “wasting their time sending in texts to the station” as stated by the complainant as all texts received were eligible for the trip to Jamaica.

We thank the Council for the opportunity to further clarify our position on this matter and wish to assure both the Council and the complainant that we strive to conduct all on-air contests in a fair and legitimate manner and take our responsibilities under the Code seriously.

Rogers also sent two screen captures of the station’s website relating to the contest:

Here is the portion of the contest that was posted on the website, which reflect the correct number to text (31053).

Here is a screen shot of the actual contest page which linked to the full contest rules. The correct number was also shown here as well:

APPENDIX C – OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES

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