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Contest Rules

Official Contest Rules

  1. It is important to structure the Contest or Sweepstakes so that you are not violating State lottery/gaming laws. A lottery involves 3 elements – prize, chance, and consideration.  In a lottery, the consideration is the price to purchase the ticket. The principal element that cannot be included in a Contest or Sweepstakes is “consideration”.  An entrant cannot be required to make a purchase to enter and in many States, there are limitations on what the entrant can be required to do in connection with their entry. For instance, you cannot require that the entrant can enter only by going to a designated retail location or take a test drive of vehicle at an automobile dealership in connection with entry.


  1. Contest or Sweepstakes?


A Contest is a promotion in which an element of skill is required as part of the entry and the entries, such as essays, photographs, or videos are judged. In a Contest, entries are judged by a panel of judges who evaluate the entries based on stated criteria.  The criteria and weight given to each criteria must be included in the Official Rules.  The winner is selected by judging, as described in the Official Rules.  The panel of judges can be two or more individuals. The number of judges will depend on the Contest format and objective.


A Sweepstakes is a promotion in which the winner is selected in a random drawing. There is no skill or judging involved.  Winners of both contests and sweepstakes may also be selected by public voting.


If you intend to include judging of an entry and public voting in selection of winner, please contact the Law Dept. so appropriate guidance can be given on whether the promotion is a Contest or a Sweepstakes and wording regarding the eligibility restrictions for voters.


  1. Sponsor. The “Sponsor” of the Contest or Sweepstakes is the entity that is “legally” responsible for the promotion and for addressing any complaints that may arise.  Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, drafting the Official Rules, collecting the entries, selecting the winners, providing the prizes, and prize fulfillment. The Sponsor could be the TV Station or it could be an advertising customer. Also, a promotion may be “jointly” sponsored by the TV Station and an advertising customer.


If an advertising customer is the Sponsor, or is providing the prize, you need to have a written agreement (a “Promotional Agreement”) between the TV Station and the customer that spells out the responsibilities of each of the parties.  The Law Dept. has a model agreement for this.


When an advertising customer is the Sponsor, a Station may serve as an “Administrator” of a Contest or Sweepstakes, rather than as Sponsor or co-Sponsor.  As Administrator, a station provides the mechanics of the Contest or Sweepstakes for the party that will be the Sponsor, such as official rules, an entry portal and automated winner selection process, but is otherwise not responsible for the operation or liabilities of the Contest or Sweepstakes.


  1. Rules.  If the TV Station is the Sponsor or Administrator, draft Official Rules based on the TEGNA model rules which are available on the TEGNA SharePoint site: select the Working at TEGNA tab, then Law Department, then Reference Center, and then Area: Contests.  The drop-down box will list the various model templates.  Allow enough time to send your draft Official Rules to the Law Dept. for review, preferably 2 weeks prior to the intended start date of the Contest or Sweepstakes.


There are regulations against altering or changing the Official Rules of a Contest or Sweepstakes once the Official Rules have been posted and it has gone live. 


  1. If a station has sold a Contest or Sweepstakes to a third-party such as an Advertiser or Prize Provider, the Advertiser or Prize Provider may be the Sponsor and the station will be the Administrator. There are model rules for this.


If a station is only advertising the Contest or Sweepstakes, the Advertiser is responsible for drafting the Official Rules. The TV Station should not be mentioned in the Official Rules as the “Sponsor” but it may be referred to as a promotional sponsor.


  1. Prizes. The station must have the prize(s) (be they gift cards, tickets, television, or travel certificates) in its possession before a Contest or Sweepstakes can begin, i.e. before it goes live and entries can be accepted. The Approximate retail value of all prizes must be included in the Official Rules.


  1. Tickets. Tickets to professional sports (MLB, NFL, NASCAR, NHL, etc.), NCAA Div 1 college sports, and many entertainment events often state on the back of the ticket that the tickets cannot be used for “advertising or promotional purposes without obtaining prior permission of the event promoter.” This means you cannot give the tickets as a prize unless you have permission from the respective team or event and in some cases the professional sports organization.  The NFL is particularly restrictive with Super Bowl tickets and the use of “Super Bowl” in connection with a Contest or Sweepstakes. The NCAA has restrictions on use of “March Madness,” as well as a number of additional trademarked phrases associated with the tournament.


  1. Total Value $5000. If the total value of all prizes in a Sweepstakes is more than $5,000 and entry is open to residents of New York, it must be registered at least 30 days prior to the start date. New York does not require registration of Contests.  However, the State of Florida requires registration of both Contests and Sweepstakes, if either is open to residents of Florida.  Either must be registered with the State of Florida at least seven (7) day prior to the start date. The Law Dept. can handle the registrations, but there are some additional requirements and time constraints.  Each registration must be accompanied by a bond for the total amount of the prize obtained from TEGNA’s insurance company.  This costs approximately $6.00 per thousand of the prize value, or a minimum of $100 and has to be ordered by TEGNA Treasury which takes a couple of days.  The Official Rules must be in final form to obtain the bond and when sent with the registration applications to the 2 states. Each state has a $100 filing fee for its application. There is a Winners List Report form that needs to be filed with the State of Florida within 60 days and with the State of New York within 90 days of the end of the Sweepstakes and Contest for Florida. Once the Report has been accepted by the State, the bond can be released. The Winners forms require the name and address of winners, prize descriptions and values as well as the dates the prizes were actually sent to the winners.


  1. Prize Description. You can describe a prize using a trademarked name but you can’t use the third party’s trade name in the title of the Contest or Sweepstakes without permission of the third party. For example, you can identify the prize as an “Apple iPad” but you can’t use “Apple” in the title or in a way that suggests Apple is a promotional sponsor. The prize description section must also include the ARV of the prize (g., “ARV: $100 per pair”).


  1. Promotional Agreement. If a third party or an advertiser is providing the prize(s), you need to have a Promotional Agreement or Prize Provider Agreement (the “Agreement”) with that party that details the responsibilities and obligations of each party. The Law Dept. has model agreements available for your use but the key points to note are:


  • Names and address of the parties
  • Description of the contest or sweepstakes – including dates and prizes
  • TV Station’s responsibilities and other party’s responsibilities
  • Who will be able to use and/or own entrant information
  • Permission to use the other party’s trademarks
  • Limits on liability, indemnification and insurance requirements
  • Who is responsible for complaints or questions from entrants and the public?


  1. Promoting a Contest or Sweepstakes.


  1. Broadcasting Promotions. The FCC (Section 73.1216) requires that promotions of Contests and/or Sweepstakes include the following “Material Terms” The FCC can and will fine a station that fails to do this. Stations may select either on-air or online (or both) method to promote a Contest or Sweepstakes.


Material Terms

  • Eligibility details
  • How to enter or participate
  • Entry beginning and ending dates
  • Whether and when a prize can be won
  • Extent, nature and value of prize(s)
  • Time and means of selecting winner(s)
  • Any tie-breaking procedures (if applicable)


On-air Promotion:  These Material Terms must appear in each promotional spot.  They may be presented all verbally or all text, or divided between text and verbal presentation in the same spot. Text is usually in static print or via a crawl across the screen.


Online Promotion:  The following rules apply:

  • Place a conspicuous link on the station’s main website homepage that links to the Contest or Sweepstakes page.
  • On the Contest or Sweepstakes page, include the Material Terms and a link to the Official Rules.
  • Broadcast the station website address with sufficient information for viewers to locate the Material Terms easily, using simple instructions or natural language;
  • Broadcast the location of the Material Terms on the station website address periodically throughout the term of the Contest or Sweepstakes;
  • Keep the Material Terms posted on the Contest or Sweepstakes website for at least 30 days after the promotion ends and conspicuously mark those promotions that are expired, including the date a winner was selected;
  • On the rare occasions that a change in terms occurs mid-Contest or Sweepstakes, announce the changes on-air within 24 hours and periodically thereafter, and also direct people to the written terms on the Contest or Sweepstakes website; and
  • Assure that the Contest or Sweepstakes rules posted online conform to those announced on-air.

Material Terms do not have to be included in (1) brief mentions of a Contest or Sweepstakes during a station program, although a reference to the location of the full Official Rules on the station’s website should be; and (2) announcements of short, daily Contests or Sweepstakes in which a winner is selected on the spot, such as awarding a DVD or gift certificate of a value less than $100 to the a designated caller.


A good rule of thumb is to treat as material any feature that if disclosed could affect a viewer’s decision whether to participate. The idea is that entrants will incur some inconvenience and effort, and the station must equip them to make an informed decision whether to proceed.

  1. Public Interest Obligation. Station liability is usually limited to Contests and Sweepstakes that pose unreasonable risks of injury or other harm. For instance, the law recognizes that contestants bear some responsibility for themselves, such as understanding that sports play involves the risk of bodily contact injury.

Before airing or advertising any licensee-conducted promotion, broadcast managers should assess its potential for unreasonable risk of public harm.  It is advisable to do the same for commercials for non-licensee contests or other high-risk activity.

Historically, certain contests have been especially problematic: anything affecting traffic (e.g., the winner must be first to reach a destination or locate a particular vehicle); scare announcements; and anything involving trespass or other incursion on private property (e.g., a treasure hunt or collection of a list of items)

  1. Entries. If a Contest or Sweepstakes has more than one means of entry, it is important to ensure that all entries from all locations are collected and entrants’ information is in the same format (i.e., all in one database) before judging a winner or conducting a random drawing for prizes.  If people can enter at retail locations such as an auto dealership, you must advise retailers to maintain the security of the entries to prevent people from entering more frequently than eligibility requirements permit, as well as to prevent cleaning crews from inadvertently throwing out the entries. Again, it is important to be sure that all entries are collected from the retail locations before selecting the winners.
  2. Drawings and Judging. Random drawings, judging, and winner notifications should take place on or about the dates stated in the Official Rules.


  1. Voting. The winners of either a Contest or a Sweepstakes may be determined by voting by the general public. However, online voting must be limited to people 13 years of age or older because of the restriction of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) which prohibits the online collection of personally identifiable information from minors under the age of 13. If you are planning a Contest or Sweepstakes in which you want to have entry open to minors, it cannot be done online and you cannot use personally identifiable information collected from minors for marketing purposes.


  1. Verification of Eligibility of Entries & Winners. If there are specific requirements for an entry or voting, please confirm that all entries or votes comply with the requirements before beginning the winner selection (i.e., before public voting or judging, if applicable). During the Winner Notification process verify that the winner(s) have met the eligibility requirements stated in the Official Rules.


  1. Affidavits of Eligibility Liability and Publicity Release. If a prize is valued at $500 or above the winner should complete, sign, and return an Affidavit of Eligibility Liability & Publicity Release before awarding the prize. This can be done in person, if the person comes in to pick up the prize.  If a prize involves travel, the winner’s travel companion (including minor children) needs to sign an Affidavit/Release.  Models of the Affidavits and Releases are available on the TEGNA intranet.


  1. Sweepstakes Pre-Registered in Florida or New York. Send the winners’ information to Law Dept. within 30 days of the end of the Sweepstakes. The information should include (1) name and physical mailing address; (2) description and value of the prize; and (3) date prize was sent or delivered to winner.  The Winners’ List must be filed with Florida within 60 days of the end of the promotion and with New York within 90 days of the end of the promotion.  Failure to file on time with Florida will induce a monetary fine.


  1. Tax Information. According to IRS regulations, if a prize is valued at $600 or more a Sponsor must issue a 1099 Form to the winner at the beginning of the following calendar year. It is important for you to collect accurate name, address and Social Security number of the winner on the Affidavit of Eligibility/Liability and Publicity Release before awarding a prize of this value. A copy of the signed Affidavit needs to be sent to the National Shared Services Center (“NSSC”), TEGNA’s consolidated off-site accounts-payable facility in Indianapolis, before the end of the current tax year so that NSSC can issue an IRS 1099.


  1. Document Retention. Written Contest or Sweepstakes records that include a copy of the Official Rules and eligibility requirements, a list of winners, copies of any complaints, internal staff memoranda, the text of on-air promotional announcements, newspaper ads, affidavits and releases, etc., should be retained for two (2) years.


If there are any non-standard aspects of Sweepstakes or Contest, complaints, issues related to entries or selection of winners, please contact the Law Dept. – Will Herman, Assistant General Counsel.


Employees and families of RadiOhio, Inc., their agencies and employees and families of any Radio, Television or Cable company or its subsidiaries are ineligible to participate in or win the contest. RadiOhio, Inc. reserves the right to disqualify any contestant who is financed, aided, encouraged or prompted by an employee or family member of any Radio, Television or Cable company or its subsidiaries within seventy-five (75) miles of Columbus, Ohio. RadiOhio, Inc. reserves the right to disqualify any contestant if it is deemed the contest rules were not followed. RadiOhio, Inc. reserves the right to enforce the following: No contest winners or their family-members, shall be allowed to win consecutively within a thirty-day period. Any person (or family member) who has won any contest on RadiOhio, Inc. is again eligible to win a contest only after thirty (30) days have passed since their previous win. This includes all contests pertaining to the station. A per son or family member will be allowed to register for a consecutive contest as long as the winning dates are thirty (30) days apart. Each person is limited to one registration per contest. RadiOhio, Inc. contests are void when and where prohibited by law. Winner of the contest must be 18 years of age, posses a valid driver’s license


All prizes awarded through RadiOhio, Inc. are non-transferable nor may a prize be substituted at the request of a contest winner, nor may a prize be substituted for cash. The prize indicated by station personnel to be won in a contest is the only prize awarded and given only to the person who is designated as the winner. RadiOhio, Inc. reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value in the event specified prize offered is unavailable. All prizes awarded by RadiOhio, Inc. must be claimed within thirty (30) days of the date the prize is won. No substitutions will be made for violation of this thirty-day rule. If a winner does not claim his/her prize within the thirty-day period, the prize is forfeited and eligibility restrictions mentioned in these rules still apply to that winner for future contests. All prizes designated for pick-up at RadiOhio, Inc. studios must be picked up during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30am 5:30pm).


RadiOhio, Inc. and/or any participating sponsor in a contest on station may require a release form to be completed by the winner and any other person or persons involved in accepting a prize. Upon accepting any contest prize from RadiOhio, Inc. or participating sponsor in a contest on RadiOhio, Inc., winner releases RadiOhio, Inc. and any and all sponsors of any liability or further claims. RadiOhio, Inc. may use voice recordings to prevent contest fraud. RadiOhio, Inc. cannot be held liable or responsible for any telephone failures, malfunctions or irregularities during a contest nor can RadiOhio, Inc. be held liable or responsible for any discrepancies by the U.S. Postal Service or any delivery service or courier involved in delivering prizes, entries or contest information to or from RadiOhio, nor is RadiOhio, Inc. to be held liable for any lost or stolen entries, prizes or contest information. The decision of the judges is final. All winners are responsible for reporting and paying taxes on prizes received. All entrants agree to grant RadiOhio, Inc. unlimited use of their name, voice, picture, quotation or facsimile, without consideration, in conjunction with their participation in any given contest.


In order for a winner to claim a prize RadiOhio, Inc. requires picture identification. RadiOhio, Inc. may require any or all of the following: driver’s license, state ID, passport and/or birth certificate. RadiOhio, Inc. reserves the right to examine additional identification and may choose to accept or deny awarding the prize based on the identification presented. RadiOhio, Inc. requires a contestant to truthfully respond with all pertinent information it deems necessary for station records including but not restricted to legal name, address, telephone number, birth-date and social security number. RadiOhio, Inc. may disqualify a contestant immediately upon learning the contestant has responded with false information. RadiOhio, Inc. office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Hours subject to change for holidays.


RadiOhio, Inc. reserves the right to extend the contest if it so desires. RadiOhio, Inc. reserves the right to make necessary changes to the contest rules and procedures. In the event of any dispute pertaining to this contest, the decision of RadiOhio, Inc. management is final.


97.1 The Fan-WBNS FM, provides live internet streaming of it’s broadcasts at When participating in contests, please be advised that the audio stream on the internet may run up to 30 seconds behind the broadcast signal heard via the radio, thus causing a delay. This delay may cause on-line listeners wishing to participate in telephone specific (7th caller wins) type of contests to be at a disadvantage versus listeners who hear the contest on-air.


Specific contests may have additional stipulations not listed here. Refer to documents pertaining to those contests for specific rules. Decision of the judges is final. Odds of winning are dependent of number of entries.