In recent years, the FCC has been to aggressively enforcing a policy requiring broadcasters to announce all material rules of a contest on the air enough times for a reasonable listener to hear the announcements. This past week, there was yet another case where this policy was enforced, resulting in a $4000 fine to a broadcaster. While the FCC continues to enforce this policy, at least one broadcaster has reportedly decided that a fine for not having broadcast of the material rules of a contest is not justified, and is apparently ready to take the FCC on in Court in a case where the FCC tries to enforce a fine issued several years ago.
The newest fine involved a station in Cleveland, which ran a contest called "Who Said That" where a clip of the voice of a sports figure was played on the air. The first person to be able to identify the speaker won a prize. Apparently, if no prize was awarded, a new prize was added each week until the voice was identified, when the winner would get all of the accumulated prizes. In this case, the station ran an announcement about the rules regularly until the station aired a clip that was not identified for some time. As the clip remained unidentified over the course of many weeks, and then many months, the station apparently became less rigorous about announcing the rules. But, more importantly to the FCC, the station did not announce on the air all of the prizes that had accumulated, nor did it announce that some of the prizes had become unavailable and had been replaced over time by prizes of what the station considered to be of an equivalent value. As the station had not announced the "extent, nature and value of the prizes," the FCC found the station to be in violation – even though the right to substitute prizes of equal value was contained in the written rules published by the station.