The FCC’s new contest rules for broadcasters, allowing the disclosure of material terms on the Internet rather than reading them on the air, becomes effective upon the publication in the Federal Register of their approval by the Office of Management and Budget. OMB approval has been obtained, and the Federal Register publication is scheduled to take place on Friday, February 12, 2016 (see the pre-publication notice here). So the long-awaited effective date is here! For more information about the FCC’s rule changes, see our article here.
Upon this publication, broadcasters can start publicizing the material terms of contests on their websites. Broadcasters need to remember that they need to plug on the air the fact that the rules are available on the website. It is required that the broadcaster mention that the rules are available on their website the first time that the contest is mentioned on air, and a reasonable number of times thereafter. And broadcasters need to make sure that, when an audience member goes to the website, they can find the rules though a clearly marked link or tab.
In posting the material terms, broadcasters need to be careful that the terms are clear, and cover all of the issues that anyone entering the contest needs to know. See our articles here and here about cases where the FCC has talked about what it considers to be the material terms of a contest. And stations need to be careful to follow the rules that are posted. See our articles here, here, here and here about stations that got in trouble for not following the rules that they set for their contests. So follow the rules, and get ready to eliminate some of that on-air clutter from your airwaves by moving this information online!