Cumulus Media Class Actions Says Radio Sweepstakes Winning Odds Inflated

Cumulus Media is being accused of running a deceptive national radio sweepstakes, allegedly duping over 50,000 of its station listeners by inflating the winning odds.

Plaintiffs Robert Doyle and Kevin McCabe filed the class action lawsuit in New York federal court in August, claiming that Cumulus ran several bogus radio sweepstakes titled “$1,000 Giveaway” from September 24, 2017 to November 10, 2017, then March 29, 2018 to May 23, 2018, and again from July 19, 2018 through August 2018 on its 372 radio stations. These contests required callers to listen to their local station for a “Keyword Announcement” at 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, and/or 6 pm Eastern Time on Mondays through Fridays. Each “Keyword Announcement” stated that listeners could text the “Keyword” to a particular short code in order to enter into the Sweepstakes.

According to the Cumulus Radio Deceptive Sweepstakes class action lawsuit, the contest was portrayed as a competition among local station listeners. However, listeners were instead competing with bigger odds against participants from hundreds of Cumulus radio stations, thereby inflating the odds of winning.

“The likelihood that an entrant in a Sweepstakes Segment would be a winner has been a fraction of what that likelihood would have been if the Sweepstakes Segment had been conducted solely by the Cumulus Station from which the entrant had obtained the Keyword,” the complaint states.

In Doyle’s case, he shares that on May 17, 2018, while listening to the Keyword Announcement of WABC in New Jersey, he texted the Keyword to the applicable short code. Immediately, upon texting, Doyle says he received a text message reply that stated: “Sorry! This keyword entry has expired Keep listening this week for new keywords. Text them in to win!”

Similarly, McCabe says that on May 18, 2018, while listening to WABC in New York, he texted the Applicable Short Code. He then received a text message that stated: “Ur entered to win $1,000 dollars! Keep listening today for the next keyword to enter again! Watch for a call from 515-253-0927 if ur the winner this hour!”

Since, Cumulus purportedly did not disclose that the “Keywords” were being announced on hundreds of Cumulus-owned radio stations, they intentionally inflated a listeners’ actual odds of winning. In fact, both plaintiffs contend that a reasonable listener would assume that the Giveaway sweepstakes involved only one radio station, believing their chances to win were actually higher.

The lead plaintiffs are seeking to represent a Class of all persons who “obtained, or will obtain, while in New York or New Jersey, a sweepstakes keyword from the broadcast of a participating radio station and texted, or will text, that keyword to the designated telephone number before the announcement, on the same station, of the next keyword since September 24, 2017. They are asking the court to award damages of $50 per violation as well injunctive relief.

Doyle, McCabe and the proposed Class are represented by Todd C. Bank of the Law Office of Todd C. Bank.

The Cumulus Radio Deceptive Sweepstakes Class Action Lawsuit is Robert Doyle, et al. v. Cumulus Media Inc., et al., Case No. 1:18-cv-04667-JBW-SMG, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

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