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FCC may be close to allowing broadcasters to disclose contest terms online

September 1, 2015

The Federal Communication Commission may be on the verge of permitting broadcasters to present sweepstakes and contest rules online, rather than during the on-air description of the promotion. The FCC’s agenda for its open meeting on September 17, 2015, lists as one of the two subjects to be discussed: “Modernizing contest rules. The Commission will consider a report and order to provide broadcasters greater flexibilities in their disclosure of contest terms.”

We first reported this possibility in a Sweepstakes Law Blog posting from June 2014, when Commissioner Michael O’Rielly proposed the idea. The rationale for changing the rules is based on the difficulty of disclosing the major elements of a contest’s rules in a few seconds — which is usually all the time that is left after communicating the description of the contest during a commercial. Allowing broadcasters to make their rules available on the Internet would provide a better opportunity for consumers to review and understand the rules, and simultaneously eliminate the need for the fast-talking announcers that not many of us can understand.

The FCC has given every indication that it will adopt the new rules, but tune in here next month to see what occurs on September 17.

This post was written by retired Thompson Coburn partner Dale Joerling. If you have any questions about the topics discussed in this post, please contact Thompson Coburn partner Hap Burke.