As we reported here, the FCC has revised its ‘‘Contest Rule” to allow television and radio stations to comply with their obligation to disclose “material terms” of a station-conducted contest by either continuing to broadcast the material terms on the air, or by providing on-air the web address where individuals can find material terms disclosures. The modified Contest Rule was published in the Federal Register here, so the rule is now in effect.
Stations should note that the “material terms” of any station-conducted contest must continue to be disclosed, and online disclosure must still comply with Federal Trade Commission and state laws, which may require the disclosure of certain terms over-the-air. Additionally, the FCC’s sponsorship ID rule still applies to broadcast contests, meaning that if a station co-sponsors a contest with a third party, the station must continue to disclose that the contest is “sponsored by” a third party. The only change in the FCC’s Contest Rule is that stations will now be permitted by the FCC to make the required disclosure of a contest’s material terms either on-air or online.
The online disclosure requirements of the modified Contest Rule include that: (1) the station’s contest rules be made “publicly accessible” (defined by the FCC as posted on a website which is designed to be available at all times, without charge, and without any registration requirement); (2) the address of the website on which the contest rules are posted must be announced periodically on the air by the station conducting the contest in a manner that enables a listener or viewer to easily locate the site online (such as, “for contest terms, go to wxyz.com and click on the contest tab”); and (3) the contest rules must be posted when the audience is first told how to enter or participate in the contest, and must remain online until at least 30 days after the winner has been selected and announced by the station.
If you have any questions about the revised Contest Rule or any aspect of the Commission’s contest policies, please contact any attorney in our office.