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Is Storage Wars a "Contest of Intellectual Knowledge or Skill?"

Offline Travis

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Is Storage Wars a "Contest of Intellectual Knowledge or Skill?"
« on: December 17, 2012, 12:19:06 PM »
After reading the complaint filed by Dave Hester's attorneys, it seems that their case is hinged on whether Storage Wars is a "contest of intellectual knowledge, intellectual skill or chance," as defined in the communications act of 1934.

This act was originally written for 1930's radio broadcasts and then later rewritten to prevent mid century quiz shows (involving prize money) from being fixed. Does it really apply to modern day reality shows 80 years later? If so, I can think of several other reality shows that need to be prosecuted first. :D

I think Dave Hester's attorneys are fighting an uphill battle here. Storage Wars or storage auctions in general are not a "contest of intellectual knowledge, intellectual skill or chance," as a matter of fact, some newbies demonstrate their lack of knowledge and intelligence at every auction.  :D

Here is a copy of the Communications Act of 1934 so you can interpret it for yourself.

The statutory provision regarding contests is set forth at Section 508 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the ``Act'') (47 U.S.C. 509). Section 508(a) of the Act (47 U.S.C.. 509(a)) provides that it is unlawful for any person, with intent to deceive the listening or viewing public:

    To supply to any contestant in a purportedly bona fide contest of intellectual knowledge or intellectual skill any special and secret assistance whereby the outcome of such contest will be in whole or in part prearranged or predetermined.

    By means of persuasion, bribery, intimidation, or otherwise to induce or cause any contestant in a purportedly bona fide contests of intellectual knowledge or intellectual skill to refrain in any manner from using or displaying his knowledge or skill in such contests, whereby the outcome thereof will be in whole or in part prearranged or predetermined.

    To engage in any artifice or scheme for the purpose of prearranging or predetermining in whole or in part the outcome of a purportedly bona fide contest of intellectual knowledge, intellectual skill, or chance.

    To produce or participate in the production for broadcasting of, to broadcast or participate in the broadcasting of, to offer to a licensee for broadcasting, or to sponsor, any radio program, knowing or having reasonable ground for believing that, in connection with a purportedly bona fide contest of intellectual knowledge, intellectual skill, or chance constituting any part of such program, any person has done or is going to do any act or thing referred to in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) above.

    To conspire with any other person or persons to do any act or thing prohibited by paragraph (1), (2), (3), or (4) above, if one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of such conspiracy.

For purposes of Section 508, the term ``contest'' means any contest broadcast by a broadcast station in connection with which any money or any other thing of value is offered as a prize or prizes to be paid or presented by the program sponsor or by any other person or persons, as announced in the course of the broadcast.

For purposes of Section 508, the term ``listening or viewing public'' means those members of the public who, with the aid of radio receiving sets, listen to or view programs broadcast by radio or television stations.

Whoever violates Section 508(a) of the Act shall be fined no more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both. These penalties are in addition to any civil penalties or other enforcement action that may be assessed by the FCC.

The Commission's requirements governing the broadcast of licensee-conducted contests are set forth in Section 73.1216 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 73.1216. This rule requires that a licensee that broadcasts or advertises information about a contest that it conducts shall fully and accurately disclose the material terms of the contest, and shall conduct the contest substantially as announced or advertised. No contest description shall be false, misleading or deceptive with respect to any material term.

For purposes of Section 73.1216, the term ``contest'' is defined as a scheme in which a prize is offered or awarded, based upon chance, diligence, knowledge or skill, to members of the public. ``Material terms'' include those factors which define the operation of the contest and which affect participation therein. Although the material terms may vary widely depending upon the exact nature of the contest, they will generally include: 1 how to enter or participate; 2 eligibility restrictions; 3 entry deadline dates; 4 whether prizes can be won; 5 when prizes can be won; 6 the extent, nature, and value of the prizes; 7 the basis for valuation of prizes; 8 time and means of selection of winners; and/or 9 tie-breaking procedures.

In general, the time and manner of disclosure of the material terms of a contest are within the licensee's discretion. However, the obligation to disclose the material terms arises at the time that the audience is first told how to enter or participate and continues thereafter. The material terms should be disclosed periodically by announcements broadcast on the station conducting the contest, but need not be enumerated each time an announcement promoting the contest is broadcast. Disclosure of material terms in a reasonable number of announcements is sufficient. In addition to the required broadcast announcements, disclosure of the material terms may be made in a non-broadcast manner.

The broadcast contest rule is not applicable to: (1) licensee-conducted contests not broadcast or advertised to the general public or to a substantial segment thereof; (2) contests in which the general public is not requested or permitted to participate; (3) the commercial advertisement of non-licensee-conducted contests; or (4) a contest conducted by a non-broadcast division of the licensee or by a non-broadcast company related to the licensee.




In my opinion, Storage Wars is not a "contest" as defined by this act because the show is not providing a cash prize or anything else in value to the winner of the show.

So what do you think, is the Communications Act of 1934 even relevant to this situation? 

Would Storage Wars have been better off adding a disclaimer, like on Auction Hunters, claiming that scenes are reenacted and that they are showing the "best finds?"

Re: Is Storage Wars a "Contest of Intellectual Knowledge or Skill?"
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2012, 05:46:19 PM »
seems a little questionable


they certainly would have been better of with a disclaimer being as most people wouldnt even pay it any attention anyway

I wonder if they will wind up being sued by someone who lost a buttload of money at auctions thinking the ones on the show were realistic

Offline Travis

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Re: Is Storage Wars a "Contest of Intellectual Knowledge or Skill?"
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2012, 06:08:47 PM »
I'm sure a lawsuit like that would have a better chance than Dave's. ;)

Re: Is Storage Wars a "Contest of Intellectual Knowledge or Skill?"
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2012, 05:58:45 PM »
One key phrase is in the definition of contest. It is, "to members of the public". The auctions the show is shot at are open to the public. The show itself is not open to the public. A&E can and does edit out anyone of their choosing. They re-shoot scenes without the public, as needed.

Also what "prize" is being offered? The contents of the locker? Nope you are buying that. Dave's $25,000 pay? ::) Well that would certainly drive uo the bidding.

Offline Travis

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Re: Is Storage Wars a "Contest of Intellectual Knowledge or Skill?"
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2012, 06:12:20 PM »
I don't think a salary would be considered a prize.

Re: Is Storage Wars a "Contest of Intellectual Knowledge or Skill?"
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2013, 01:59:05 AM »
There simply is no prize or contest being offered to the public on Storage Wars.

Perhaps Dave Hesters lawyers should have filed suit citing the federal whistleblower law.


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