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Stations Cautioned About April Fools Promotions

In an e-mail newsletter, communications law firm Garvey Schubert Barer  is advising clients to be careful with April Fools Day promotions.

The e-mail pointed out the FCC has rules against hoaxes and fines starting at $7,000, and the firm reminded clients of previous promotions that "got out of hand."

Some of those promotions are:

*The faked takeover of a station by an activist group.

*A broadcast warning of the eruption of a nonexistent volcano.

The FCC fines stations for broadcasting false information if the broadcaster knows it is false and could predict substantial public harm including diversion of law enforcement or other public health and safety authorities from their duties. The clarification makes the standard much easier to meet.

"Hoaxes may generate much publicity," GSB says.  "And one adage holds that bad publicity is better than no publicity at all. But even pranks that may seem harmless have the potential to backfire."
Just ask Cartoon Network, whose guerilla marketing campagin in Boston went awry earlier this year.