Category: Legal

Do You Have a Non-Competition Clause in Your Contract?

| September 3, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
RadioInfo 
Legal Editor

 

weismanwriterBOSTON — It is nothing new for some business people to have a dim view of competition.  The legendary John D. Rockefeller, founder of the oil company monopoly, Standard Oil said “Competition is a sin.”  The federal government disagreed and Standard Oil was broken up under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1911 following a landmark Supreme Court decision.

When it comes to radio talk show hosts or disc jockeys, being able to compete by leaving one employer and going to another employer is often viewed by radio station owners in a fashion similar to Rockefeller’s.  To them, competition by former employees, if not sinful, should at least be considered a breach of contract.  It is not unusual for a talk radio host’s contract to include a provision that limits the right of the host to work for someone else.  This contract provision is commonly called a non-competition clause.  Often such clauses are used to limit the right of a talk radio host from going to work for a competitor in the same city or geographical area.

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WTOP Hacking – Why You Should Worry

| May 28, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
RadioInfo
Legal Editor

weismanBOSTON — As reported in Talkers earlier in May, Washington D.C. radio stations WTOP and Federal News Radio had their websites hacked resulting in the possible infection of anyone who accessed the two websites using the popular Internet Explorer web browser prior to the discovery and correction of the problem.

The hacking of these two websites is particularly insidious because unlike infections that occur when a computer user is lured to a phony infected website set up for the specific purpose of infecting unwary computer users — a technique called “phishing” — in this case, the computer users were infected when they went to legitimate websites that they believed were trustworthy.

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Radio Station Sued for Infringing Rights of Man with Down Syndrome –
What It Means to You

| May 6, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
RadioInfo
Legal Editor

Among the hats I wear in addition to that of legal editor of RadioInfo is the mortar board of a professor at Bentley University where one of the courses I teach is Media Law.  The recently filed lawsuit by the parents of Adam Holland, a man with Down Syndrome has enough media law issues to fill an entire semester.  These issues are also important to you as broadcasters, station owners and managers.

The lawsuit which was filed in federal court in Tennessee on April 22nd, contains counts for invasion of privacy, misappropriation of a likeness, defamation, intentional infliction of emotion distress and violation of a Tennessee statute regarding commercial exploitation of a person’s photograph, however I will deal only with the allegations most appropriate to broadcasters.

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A Serious Loss for Howard Stern

| April 15, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
RadioInfo
Legal Editor

sternhowardBOSTON — Sometimes it is, as Mel Brooks commented in his movie “The History of the World, Part One,” good to be the king.  But other times it is not.  Howard Stern, the self-proclaimed (and not too far off) “King of All Media” took a hit last week when the dismissal of his lawsuit against Sirius XM Radio, Inc. in which he sought more than $300 million in stock awards was upheld by the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court.

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FCC Dumps Indecency Complaints; Seeks Public Comments on Policy

| April 8, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
RadioInfo
Legal Editor

BOSTON — Somehow it seems particularly fitting that the FCC chose April Fools’ Day to issue a press release in which it indicated that as a result of its review of its broadcast indecency rules following the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., it had managed to reduce its backlog of pending indecency complaints by more than one million — which represented 70% of the outstanding pending complaints.  How, you might ask, was the FCC able to carefully evaluate more than a million complaints in only six months?  It was easy.  These cases were summarily dismissed for various reasons, such as being beyond the FCC’s five-year statute of limitations, involved cases outside of the FCC’s jurisdiction, contained insufficient information or were not actionable due to previous established precedents.  Cases were also dismissed for being, in the FCC’s words “too stale to pursue,” although there is no FCC definition of staleness.  It is also interesting to note that the FCC has not brought an action against a broadcaster for indecency since 2008 and that order of the FCC against Fox involving the 2003 broadcast of the show “Married by America” — which originally carried a $1.18 million fine, later reduced by the FCC to $91,000 — was ultimately voluntarily dismissed by the FCC in September of 2012.

A cynic might find it curious that the reason for the staleness in those cases was the FCC’s total ignoring of these cases for years, although in the FCC’s defense, a reasonable case could be made for the agency’s hesitance to act in the last few years as Fox’s challenge to the indecency regulations made its way through the federal courts and ultimately to the Supreme Court which decided the case (sort of)  on June 21, 2012.  However, as for the cases that were dismissed for having insufficient information or being not actionable due to previously established precedents, those facts should have been readily apparent to the FCC years ago.

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Bill Maher Got it Wrong

| February 18, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
RadioInfo
Legal Editor

BOSTON — In early January, comedian Bill Maher appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and stated to Leno, “Suppose that perhaps Donald Trump had been the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan, because, well – I didn’t just make this up – the color of his hair…and the color of an orange orangutan is the only two things of nature of the same color.  So…”  Maher went on to say that he would be willing to donate $5 million to Trump that he could donate to the charity of his choice if he provided evidence that he was not the son of an orangutan.  Maher even came up with some possible charity choices for Trump, namely the “Hair Club for Men of the Institute for Incorrigible Douche-bag-ery.”

The entire reference to a $5 million donation to a charity in return for evidence of his birth was an obvious joke (although not apparently to Mr. Trump) relating to Trump’s continuous railing during the recent presidential campaign that President Obama needed to provide his long-form birth certificate to prove he was a native-born American.  When the president actually did so, Trump ridiculously moved on to offer $5 million to be paid to charities of the president’s choice if he would provide his college transcripts and passport applications.  As an aside, I wonder how much Trump would have offered for the president’s Blockbuster membership card.

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Your Radio Station is Vulnerable
to Identity Theft

| February 5, 2013

By Steven J.J. Weisman
RadiInfo
Legal Editor

BOSTON — We all are aware of the dangers of identity theft and many of us do our best to protect ourselves individually from the dire consequences of having your identity stolen. But what about your radio station? Does it even know that there is a problem?

Recently we have learned that both The New York Times and the Washington Post had their computers hacked into by Chinese hackers and this was not the first time. The hacking into The New York Times and the Washington Post do not appear to be financially motivated, but that is of little solace.

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SiriusXM Shareholder Suit Has Little Merit

| August 23, 2012

By Steven J. J. Weisman
RadioInfo
Legal Editor

BOSTON — A few days after Liberty Media Corp. and its chairman, John Malone, announced in an August 17 filing with the Federal Communications Commission that it intended to purchase stock in Sirius XM Radio Inc. sufficient to increase its interest from its present 48% ownership to more than 50% and thereby take over control of the company, the Miami Police Relief and Pension  fund filed a lawsuit against Sirius XM Radio Inc.’s board of directors for failing to take action to prevent the potential takeover.

The basis for the lawsuit is the allegation that by failing to do more to prevent Liberty Media Corp. from taking over control of Sirius XM Radio Inc., the directors were breaching their fiduciary duty to the stockholders.

The lawsuit has two chances of success – little and none.

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