Pillsbury represents hundreds of broadcast stations throughout the United States, as well as media investors and lenders, and the umbrella organization of the 50 state broadcasters associations.
Combining industry and technology knowledge with transactional, regulatory and litigation experience, Pillsbury’s Communications team represents media sector clients engaged in every type of traditional, digital and emerging means of communications. In addition to guiding clients through the legal and business complexities that arise in creating, aggregating, distributing and licensing content, we assist them in acquiring, securing and leveraging copyrights and trademarks and address issues that arise regarding advertising, promotions, defamation claims and privacy rights.
Our multidisciplinary Communications team handles industry M&As and strategic alliances, assists with financing, structures distribution transactions, and advises on and addresses potential tax implications of deals. We help clients comply with regulatory requirements, advocate for clients before U.S. legislative and regulatory bodies (including the FCC), and assert and defend their interests in court.
Since the beginning of AM radio, Pillsbury has maintained one of the most active broadcast practices in the United States. Representing a wide range of industry players, from individual station owners to large public corporations, networks, investors and lenders, we advise on regulations, negotiate and document transactions, protect intellectual property rights, and structure deals to meet our clients’ regulatory and business goals. 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 U.S. Supreme Court, including cases that helped to define the FCC’s multiple ownership rules.
Since the infancy of the industry, Pillsbury has represented television clients—from the large public company to the individual local station owner, advising on regulatory, transactional and legislative issues. We currently represent several of the largest station groups in the United States. In addition to handling regulatory filings and enforcement matters, we advise on cable carriage issues, network affiliation agreements, issues raised by the children’s television rules, and opportunities presented by advancements in digital television technology.
We represent owners in all phases of the radio industry, assisting with transactional needs, from negotiating asset and stock purchase agreements, time brokerage and joint sales agreements, leases, and financing documents, to dealing with talent or program distribution. 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, and the prosecution of technical facilities changes or station upgrades. Our lawyers have confronted virtually every issue broadcasters encounter, 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 streaming.
Our Communications team works with radio broadcast stations and independent webcasters that provide radio-style programming and other services on the internet. We have also been at the forefront of the streaming audio and video revolution and represent one of the most active streaming trade associations. We have 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.
Our lawyers offer deep experience in interpreting and applying the many statutory and regulatory requirements, enabling us to help clients navigate the complex regulations governing political broadcasting. During each political season, we answer hundreds of questions on political advertising requirements and travel the country to explain the rules to broadcasters and others involved in the political advertising process. Further, we publish extensive guides to the rules that apply to political advertising.
Our firm reviews program content and defends clients against government prosecution involving programming content. We drafted the network affiliation agreements used by two major broadcast television networks and have reviewed and negotiated numerous agreements between networks and their affiliates.
Pillsbury lawyers have dealt extensively with the complex set of licensing obligations governing the use of music on broadcast stations and digital transmission systems, and our firm is one of the few firms with hands-on experience in negotiating terms of statutory licenses for digital music transmissions.
Noncommercial Educational Broadcasting
Working with numerous public and religious noncommercial broadcasters on licensing, underwriting, and sponsorship issues, we are able to assist any noncommercial radio or television station regarding the unique regulatory requirements and transactional issues they face. Our broadcast clients include a number of colleges and universities, as well as one of the largest noncommercial religious broadcasters in the United States.