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FCC Open Meeting to Tackle Contest Issue

Report and Order will offer ‘common-sense’ modernization of FCC contest rules

Modernizing some of the more creaky processes at the FCC is one goal at the next open commission meeting.

On Sept. 17, the commission plans to consider a Report and Order modernizing its contest rules. Currently, broadcasters are required to disclose terms of any contest through periodic over-the-air announcements, a requirement adopted in 1976 that many feel is outdated.

“Given the state of technology in the 1970s, the FCC’s contest rule made sense at the time,” said Matthew Berry, chief of staff to Commissioner Ajit Pai in a speech to a state broadcasting group earlier this month. “But the rule should now reflect the digital world in which we live.”

The current rule requires broadcasters conducting a contest to disclose the terms of the contest by airing them a reasonable number of times. Instead, the 2015 Report and Order proposes that broadcasters have the option to disclose the terms of contests on a publicly accessible website. This would allow interested listeners to review the contest rules at their convenience and ease the burden imposed on broadcasters, bringing “broadcasters some common-sense regulatory relief,” Berry said.

The NPRM proposes that contest rules can be posted on any publicly accessible Web site, and then broadcasters can announce that Web address on air. Still to be answered are questions regarding how often this Web address must be aired.

In February, the NAB weighed in on the issue, saying that it was in favor of modernizing its licensee-conducted contest rules, but asked that the FCC refrain from dictating where the rules should be listed on a station’s website or requiring licensees to announce the direct website address every time the contest is mentioned.

The meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the FCC and broadcast on