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IHeart Says Online Contest Rules Mitigate Tune-Out

Hubbard agrees, also says airing long URL “burdensome”

Thirteen entities have told the FCC what they think of the agency’s plan to modernize its broadcast contest notification rules and allow online notification.

Entercom first petitioned for the change in 2012, noting that for years, long on-air rules announcements have been driving away listeners and viewers. The agency took note and late last year, proposed modernizing the rules, to keep up with how the audience expects to get its information today.

NAB suggested the agency not specify how long contest terms remain available and allow stations to remove them from websites when a contest is done, we reported last week.

IHeartMedia supports moving contest notifications online, agreeing with other radio groups that the announcements drive away listeners, who “often consider such announcements to be negative, undesirable, or simply boring content and therefore change the channel or tune-out.”

IHeartMedia told the FCC that using Arbitron PPM data, Media Monitors analyzed audience loss during material terms announcements for a Katy Perry contest. The announcements were aired on KDND(FM), Sacramento, Calif., over a two-week period. “The study found that KDND lost more than a quarter of its net listening audience during commercial breaks containing a material terms announcement for the contest,” according to iHeartMedia. “In contrast, KDND lost only 13% of its net audience during commercial breaks that did not contain the material terms announcements.”

The broadcaster suggests the FCC allow stations to use a narrative description to find the rules, rather than making stations voice what may be a long web address. “Online disclosures will also free up valuable air time for additional programming content and advertising that consumers value,” according to iHeartMedia.

Hubbard Broadcasting agreed, telling the agency requiring stations to air a long web address is “unnecessarily burdensome” and add to the on-air clutter the commission is trying to mitigate with the rule change.

Hubbard also told the agency that online contest rules disclosure better serves the public interest, because that “would allow listeners to call up the contest terms anytime, rather than forcing them to wait for — and potentially miss” — the announcement, wrote Hubbard. Listeners can likely better understand the terms if they can read them rather than hearing them, adds the broadcaster.

Reply comments on the issue (Docket 14-226) are due March 19.