Three years in the making, a notice of proposed rulemaking would give the thumbs up to online contest rules.
Big News! The Commission has taken the unusual step of proposing a rule revision requested by broadcasters and of potential benefit to broadcasters, both TV and radio! The on-air contest rule – Section 73.1216 – is up for a long-overdue overhaul. And while there may be plenty to criticize in the FCC’s less-than-prompt attention here, let’s not focus on that just now. Instead, let’s take a look at how the Commission figures to make broadcasters’ lives a little better.
As we have reported previously, the contest rule requires (among other things) periodic on-air disclosure of all material elements of the contest. You can find some examples of the rule in action here, here and here. For many contests, that imposes a considerable burden on both stations (who must be sure to intone the rules on the air, often at auctioneer speed – or scroll them in infinitesimal print – regardless of how much that can interrupt program flow) and audience members (who have to suffer through the interruptions).
Nearly three years ago, Entercom filed a petition for rulemaking advancing an unquestionably reasonable proposal: instead of the over-the-air requirement, why not let broadcasters post contest rules on their websites (or, if a broadcaster doesn’t happen to have a website, on a state broadcast association site) for all the world to read whenever all the world happens to want to read them? As Entercom put it, this would be consistent with “how the majority of Americans access and consume information in the 21st century.”
The Commission is now on board with the idea.Continue Reading...