At the FCC’s November Open Meeting this morning, all four Commissioners and Chairman Wheeler voted to adopt an NPRM that will propose to bring the Commission’s disclosure requirements for licensee-conducted contests into the 21st Century. The text of the NPRM was released shortly after the Meeting.
As numerous Commissioners and the Chairman noted, the contest rule – which requires broadcast stations to periodically announce on-air the material terms of any licensee-conducted contest – was adopted nearly 40 years ago. Although the values of honesty, fairness, and disclosure that inform the rule have withstood the test of time, the ways in which the public accesses and consumes information have changed dramatically.
Accordingly, the NPRM proposes to allow broadcasters more flexibility in disclosing material contest terms. Instead of broadcasting detailed on-air announcements, broadcasters will have the option of disclosing material terms via the station’s website, the licensee’s website, or any publicly available website so long as they mention on-air the “direct website address” where the terms are located each time the contest is advertised. The NPRM clarifies that “direct website address” means the address that will take a listener or viewer directly to the web page where the contest terms are posted. Thus, if a licensee posts a direct link to contest terms on its homepage, announcing the homepage address on-air will suffice to fulfill this disclosure requirement. If, by contrast, a station posts contest rules on a sub-page or under a tab on its homepage, the proposal contained in the NPRM would require the licensee to include the full address of the sub-page or tabbed page in its on-air announcement. Continue Reading