The FCC recently fined a North Carolina radio station $10,000 for errors in contest deadlines posted on the station website and in emails sent to contestants, even though the radio station correctly broadcast all materials terms of the contest on air. The radio station conducted a voting contest in which contestants submitted photos of their babies. Finalist entries posted to the station’s website, where the public could vote for their favorite entry. A contest participant complained after the radio station posted incorrect dates for contest voting on the station website and in emails sent to contestants. The FCC requires radio stations to broadcast all materials terms of a contest if that contest is promoted on air. The FCC determined that the station confused and misled the public because its website and e-mail announcements conflicted with its broadcast announcements. While all contestants received the same email and were, thus, affected equally by the miscommunication, the FCC noted that employee error, inadvertence and an alleged lack of harm due to the mistake do not excuse a violation of the FCC’s rules.
TIP: Promotion of voting contests must meticulously and clearly disclose the terms of participation, and promotion sponsors must conduct all aspects of the promotion in strict compliance with published rules.