Federal agents have served subpoenas on about 18 wholesale record distributors and 20 radio stations they suspect are involved in a scam to play records for money, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Attorneys for Fonovisa, a record company that is a subsidiary of Mexican media giant Grupo Televisa, contacted the U.S. Justice Department in December with concerns about improprieties within their radio promotion department.Federal law prohibits radio stations from taking money for playing songs without telling listeners.
No one has been arrested, but law enforcement sources said some radio station employees could face criminal charges for "payola," a misdemeanor, and tax evasion, a felony.
According to sources the Times did not name, the record company paid an independent record promoter last year who then dispersed money to couriers on the Fonovisa payroll.
The couriers allegedly visited radio stations and handed packages containing cash payments, sometimes as much as $10,000 per month, to program directors who agreed to play specific Fonovisa songs, Times sources said.