CBS’ The Score in Chicago Hit With Texting Suit


This could be a sign of things to come for radio stations that have used text messaging to contact their “loyal listeners” without getting the proper permission or understanding the rules. Earlier this week we told you about the recent class action suit iHeart settled over unwanted texts sent to listeners. Now we get news of an individual, Elaine Bonin, who has filed a lawsuit against WSCR for allegedly violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. You may want to keep this column by broadcast attorney John Garziglia handy. Here are the details from the WSCR lawsuit.

The law prohibits the use of autodialers to make any call, including sending a test message, to a wireless number, unless its an emergency or the owner of the phone gives permission. In Bonin’s case she owned a TracFone which is a prepaid wireless phone. She has to purchase minutes that are loaded onto her phone in advance of calls or texts. When she sends or receives texts, minutes are deducted. In January Bonin says she received a message from The Score about an NFL game between The Bears and The Lions. She says the station then sent several more messages that day and for days after, without ever receiving her permission. Each message costs her 0.3 minutes of time used.

Bonin is asking up to $1,500 in damages for each call that she claims violated the statute. This filing by Bonin and her attorneys states it is a “Class Action Complaint,” and the unknown number of listeners to the station affected by this is unknown but could be in the hundreds or thousands. The filing asks for $500 in damages for each and every call made by the station and attorney’s fees.

Read the full lawsuit filing HERE
Bookmark John Garziglia’s column. Get it HERE


  1. This is exactly why short-codes are going extinct. They leverage texting a way that is a black eye on broadcasters and advertisers. Listeners don’t want to jump through the hoops of opting-in to a stations short-code so that you can send them unsolicited and untimely advertisements. Texting should be used in radio, the same way we use it with friends and family – to engage in simple real-time conversations. Any “text advertising” can be done on an inbound basis through Keywords, which is what the TCPA refers to as a request for information.

    There are plenty of other texting options that facilitate engagement and provide an ROI, without having to use a 5 digit short-code.

    • The short code has nothing to do with the lawsuits. Spammers use ten digit numbers only as short codes are audited while long codes are not. The main issue with these lawsuits is the TCPA law being written poorly, opening up for lawsuits that should have been thrown out in the first place. TCPA should protect consumers and has good intentions, but these lawsuits are nothing but opportunistic, praying on settlements due to the cost of litigation.

      • The short code has a lot to do with lawsuits. No texting program is inherently insulated from the TCPA or litigation but short-codes, as you pointed out, are audited because they were built for marketing. That’s why listeners are forced to opt-in. Short-codes also come with the built-in capability of blasting a message out to their database, aka an Autodialer. The TCPA defines an Autodialer as “equipment which has the capacity (A) to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and (B) to dial such numbers.”. This inherently puts more risk on stations that are using short-codes.


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