FCC fines for violations of the FCC rules dealing with contests have been common in the last few years. Because of these fines, we recently conducted a webinar for the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, discussing the requirements of FCC rule Section 73.1216 which regulates the conduct of station-sponsored contests. We also discussed what should be addressed in contest rules, issues with contests that advertisers themselves sponsor, and considerations that stations should undertake to avoid civil liability when conducting contests. Other legal issues that should be considered in any contest or lottery promoted on a station were also covered. The slides from our presentation, outlining the legal issues that we discussed, are available here.
What are some of the issues we discussed? We recently wrote about fines of $22,000 for a station online contest, promoted on the air, without the station announcing all of the material rules on the air. Even imprecise contest rules have brought fines of $4000, as did a contest not conducted according to the rules announced on the air. Beyond these issues, broadcasters have to consider other legal liability that can arise for injuries to contestants - highlighted by the Sacramento case of a few years ago. Being careful in promoting third-party contests, like those conducted by advertisers, particularly compliance with lottery laws, is also important. Observe the rules and be careful - as there are many potential traps for those who are not prepared.