The Federal Communications Commission last week adopted an amendment to its Contest Rules (Section 73.1216) requirements for broadcast licensees.

Under the amendment, television and radio licensees can now meet obligations for disclosing contest rules by posting such rules on the Internet.  This revision changes a longstanding requirement that material contest terms be disclosed on air.  Broadcasters can still choose to disclose rules on air but now have the option of posting the rules online instead.

Under the new amendment, broadcasters who choose to disclose contest rules via the Internet will be required to (i) broadcast the relevant website address periodically with information sufficient for a consumer easily to find material contest terms online; (ii) establish a link or tab to material contest terms on the website’s home page; (iii) maintain contest terms online for a period of at least thirty days after the contest has ended; and (iv) announce on air that the material terms of a contest have changed since the contest was first announced, where that is the case, and direct participants to the website to review the changes.

Prior to the FCC’s order last week many broadcasters already used the Internet as a way to supplement the FCC’s on air material disclosure requirement.

The move is meant to “modernize [the FCC’s] rules to reflect how Americans access and consume information in the 21st century.” A complete copy of the FCC’s Report and Order is available here.