Clifford M. Harrington
Since the beginning of AM radio, Pillsbury has been one of the most active broadcast practices in the nation. We represent a wide range of industry players, from individual station owners to large public corporations. From advising on regulations, to negotiating and documenting transactions, to protecting intellectual property rights, the firm can satisfy the full spectrum of broadcaster needs. Our lawyers work with banks and other media investors to structure deals that meet their regulatory and business goals. We also represent program suppliers and other service providers. We keep clients up to date on the relevant legislative and regulatory actions that can affect their day-to-day and long-term operations. Pillsbury also represents the umbrella organization for the various state broadcasters associations, which positions us at the center of most important policy debates at the FCC. Our lawyers often speak at broadcast industry meetings and provide their insights to trade publications. As one of the industry’s leading advocates, we have fought to reduce regulatory burdens on broadcasters, successfully litigating major industry issues before the various Courts of Appeals and the US Supreme Court, including cases helping to define the FCC’s multiple ownership rules.
From mom-and-pop broadcasters to entrepreneurs and public companies, we represent owners in all phases of the radio industry. Our attorneys can assist a radio owner with all of its transactional needs, from negotiating asset and stock purchase agreements, time brokerage and joint sales agreements, leases, and financing agreements, to dealing with talent or program syndicates. We help our clients navigate the complex maze of FCC regulations, routinely advising on a multitude of issues, including the enforcement of EEO, indecency and political broadcasting rules, the interpretation of multiple ownership restrictions, the prosecution of technical facilities changes or station upgrades, and participation in auctions for new frequencies. Our lawyers have faced virtually every issue broadcasters confront, and our extensive experience extends to emerging digital radio technologies. One of our lawyers worked with the standards-setting committee for in-band, on-channel digital radio or “IBOC.” Others have extensive experience representing clients who provide digital satellite radio services and Internet webcasts.
Since the infancy of the industry, Pillsbury has represented television clients—from the large public company to the individual local station owner. We currently represent two of the largest holders of television licenses in the country, including the leading Spanish language broadcaster and network in the U.S. Our comprehensive knowledge of the television industry allows us to meet all of our clients’ regulatory, transactional, and legislative needs. In addition to routine regulatory filings and technical improvement applications, we provide advice on cable carriage issues, network affiliation agreements, issues raised by the children’s television rules, and the myriad requirements and opportunities presented by the conversion to digital television.
Pillsbury has been at the forefront of the streaming audio and video revolution and represents one of the most active streaming trade associations. We also work with radio broadcast stations and many of the most active independent webcasters, who provide radio-style programming and other services on the Internet. We successfully negotiated with the music industry for music licensing rights for webcasters under a statutory license. We have also provided advice to webcasters on software licenses, patent matters, and other business and regulatory issues.
To help clients navigate the complex regulations governing political broadcasting, our lawyers offer deep experience in interpreting and applying the FCC’s many requirements. During each political season, we answer hundreds of questions on political advertising requirements, publish extensive guides to the rules, and travel the country to explain the rules to broadcasters and others involved in the political advertising process.
From the earliest days of broadcasting, stations have relied on national program networks in order to produce quality programming economically. Our firm created the network affiliation agreements used by two major broadcast television networks and has reviewed and negotiated numerous agreements between networks and their affiliates.
We have dealt extensively with the complex set of licensing obligations governing the use of music on broadcast stations and digital transmission systems. We are also one of the few firms with hands-on experience in negotiating the terms of the statutory license for the use of music for digital transmissions. Our firm represented one of the digital satellite radio companies with regard to its music licensing needs and negotiated a statutory license for the use of digital music on the Internet for a group of small commercial webcasters.
Noncommercial Educational Broadcasting
Noncommercial broadcasters face a unique set of regulatory and transactional issues. Through our work with numerous public and religious noncommercial broadcasters on licensing, underwriting, and sponsorship issues, we have gained the experience to assist any noncommercial radio or television station. Our clients include several colleges and universities, as well as one of the largest noncommercial religious broadcasters in the country.