Telecommunications, Cable And Broadcast
In the constantly evolving world of communications, staying ahead of the curve is crucial to remaining competitive. The Womble Carlyle Telecommunications, Cable & Broadcast Group provides innovative solutions for all of your telecommunications, cable and broadcast needs. Our team constantly updates its knowledge of both legal and technological changes in these fields in order to provide you with a full, complete range of services.
Our Group is quick, smart, and strategic. Our goal for every client is to provide customized counseling and assistance as efficiently as possible. We will share your vision for success and eliminate roadblocks that can hinder your growth and drain your time away from your core business.
We offer a complete range of services in this field covering each aspect of your communications business -- transactions, licensing, regulatory compliance, policy advocacy, and litigation -- focusing on the following areas:
We serve clients ranging from well-established international telecommunications corporations to emerging entrepreneurs. Our clients include telecommunications carriers, wireless service providers, Voice over Internet Protocol service providers, cable companies; radio and television broadcasters, equipment manufacturers, and Internet Service Providers. We also assist large users of communications services with their procurement needs, as well as venture capital firms, investment banks and other investors in the telecommunications industry.
Womble Carlyle is committed to building the right team for addressing each client's needs. Our Group regularly works cooperatively with attorneys in other areas of the firm to accomplish your goals, including the
- Federal and State Government Affairs Practice Group, which includes a former four-term North Carolina Governor and former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court as well as former senior Congressional staff and government officials. With this extensive bipartisan experience in the political arena, we advocate on behalf of our clients to help influence policy, build coalitions, shape public opinion and navigate regulatory hurdles.
- Privacy and Data Protection Team, which is comprised of attorneys with extensive experience in data security, consumer privacy, and policy advocacy. Many attorneys in the Telecommunications Group also serve on this Team.
- Business Litigation Group, which complements our Group's experience in all types of adversarial proceedings, from federal lawsuits to alternative dispute resolution.
Whether you are a domestic telecommunications company or an international business operating in the U.S. market, Womble Carlyle's full-service telecommunications practice can help you achieve your business goals. Our attorneys have extensive experience working with traditional telecommunications companies as well as cellular and Internet service providers.
Our experience includes:
- Assisting clients with local exchange competition
- Negotiating and arbitrating interconnection agreements
- Negotiating and transacting mergers and acquisitions on behalf of telecommunications providers
- Challenging orders of State Commissions and the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") in appellate courts, including petitions of mandamus under the All Writs Act
- Litigating disputes between carriers before federal and state courts, the FCC, and state public service commissions.
- Assisting with regulatory compliance, including universal service, annual regulatory fees, E911, Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), access charges, among other issues
- Addressing federal and state jurisdictional and preemption issues
- Advising international carriers (and their affiliates) on conducting business in the United States
- Advising carriers on state entry and regulatory requirements
- Assisting equipment manufacturers with federal regulatory compliance (such as "Part 65" rules)
- Counseling and assisting with end user privacy issues
Our nationally known telecommunications lawyers have served as appellate and trial counsel in a diverse array of telecommunications matters. Our attorneys have acted as lead appellate counsel before the federal courts of appeals. We have represented carriers in breach of contract actions in federal and state courts, and we have substantial experience litigating formal and informal complaints before the FCC and state public service commissions. Our experience has given us the technological understanding, policy experience, and litigation tools to provide comprehensive counsel and advocacy in virtually any litigation forum that your company may need.
Homeland security and law enforcement compliance also are increasingly important issues for telecommunications companies. When these matters arise, we can address wire tapping regulations, information retention policies and network security concerns. Our goal is to help our clients comply with all security laws while still protecting the security of private customer records.
Our work in this field extends to representing both foreign telecommunications companies in the U.S. market as well as representing American telecommunications providers in international matters. We strive to help companies find business opportunities.
In addition to traditional telecommunications companies, we represent clients in emerging technologies, such as Voice over Internet, WiFi and WiMax. We assist clients with legal matters pertaining to a wide variety of wireless services including:
- Cellular telephone
- Point-to-point microwave
- Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service (MVDDS)
- Paging services
- Wireless Communications Service (WCS)
- Digital Electronic Message Service (DEMS)
- Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS)
Few areas of the law are as heavily regulated by the federal government as those surrounding over-the-air radio and television. Navigating this complex web requires skilled, specific legal counsel.
Our attorneys have extensive experience with all manner of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation and compliance. We regularly negotiate broadcast station sales, acquisitions and ownership combinations under FCC's evolving rules and policies; complete FCC-compliant due diligence for mergers, acquisitions and re-financings; help broadcasters ensure compliance with FCC station ownership anti-trust and competition regulations; complete transactions on behalf of foreign ownership groups; provide strategic input for facility improvements; defend challenges to applications; seek special relief for unusual situations; and give day-to-day advice on broadcast station compliance with all FCC regulations, including political broadcasts, contests and lotteries, indecency and children's television. When confronted with issues involving other areas of legal practice, such as antitrust, real estate matters, personnel issues and taxation, we are able to draw upon the wide-spread experience of our entire firm.
We also provide legal representation in the areas of video on demand, direct broadcast satellite and satellite radio and Internet Protocol television (IPTV), both in regulatory compliance as well as in business transactional matters.
Our team of attorneys routinely assists clients with AM, FM and TV license renewals, network affiliation and programming agreements, equal employment opportunity compliance, digital broadcast transitions, newspaper/broadcast station combinations, and negotiations of mergers and acquisitions of station groups.
Our attorneys frequently speak at national and state broadcaster conventions and represent various state broadcaster associations. This helps us stay in touch with the real world issues that affect radio and television broadcasters. We also have extensive networks of contacts with brokers and engineers, with whom we work closely to fashion meaningful solutions to the diverse and challenging issues our clients often face.
Since its inception, the cable industry is one of innovators. The cable industry has grown from providing a handful of broadcast stations to rural communities to a multi-media platform that meets the diverse communications, information and entertainment needs of consumers and businesses. In addition to linear multichannel video programming, cable operators offer a variety of complementary video services, including video on demand, digital video recording and other time- and place-shifting services. Recognizing consumers' desire to have a single provider, the cable industry introduced the concept of triple play - video, Internet, and telephony. Responding to a more mobile society, cable has begun to offer its services on multiple platforms, that include wireless communications and Internet protocol.
For more than 30 years, our cable attorneys have been at the forefront of assisting cable operators in the development and deployment of innovative new services. Our team has the experience to help clients succeed in all areas of this complex environment, whether dealing with matters involving the FCC, the Copyright Office and other federal agencies, Congress, state public service commissions and local regulatory authorities.
Our experience includes:
- Access-to-premises and MDU service agreements(cable telephony and high-speed data)
- Advertising and marketing issues, including promotions and competitive issues
- Antitrust matters
- Cable copyright compulsory licensing
- Closed captioning of programming (originated and third party)
- Commercial leased access
- Company websites (all aspects of e-commerce including e-pay)
- Competitive issues, including strategic planning and advertising claims
- Consumer protection and customer service standards
- Customer notices
- Digital channel migration
- Document retention issues, including public inspection file (strategic planning and defense)
- Emergency alert system issues
- Enforcement action defenses
- Equal employment opportunity issues (FCC)
- First Amendment issues
- Franchising(initial agreements, renewal and transfers, state franchising)
- Franchise fees
- Government requests for subscriber information (ECPA, Patriot Act, FISA)
- Inside wiring
- Internet service provider portal pages (structures, disclosures and content provider agreements)
- Licensing and regulatory compliance
- Must carry (strategic planning and defense)
- Policy-making proceedings before the FCC and other federal agencies
- Pole attachments
- Political programming guidance
- Privacy (Cable Act and related federal laws)
- Program affiliation agreements
- Project and system financing
- Public, educational and governmental access channels, agreements and programming
- Rate regulation and effective competition
- Retransmission consent (strategic planning and negotiations and defense)
- Signal carriage issues (indecency/obscenity, network nonduplication, syndicated exclusivity)
- Subscriber agreements
- Tiering of services
- Tower issues (FAA clearances, FCC registration, land leases)
- Transactional issues, including sales, acquisitions and reorganizations
- Vendor agreements (service bureau, billing and technology contracts)
As part of a full-service law firm, with 13 offices in 7 states and the District of Columbia and many national practice areas, Womble Carlyle can deliver a complete array of legal services guided by attorneys who have an intimate knowledge and understanding of your cable business.
The content explosion on the Internet as a tool for commerce and personal networking carries with it an increased risk to consumers of fraud and information misuse. We expect heightened regulatory scrutiny of utility companies, Internet content and e-commerce transactions, particularly in the areas of consumer protection of privacy. Let the Womble Privacy and Data Protection Team help you navigate these wide waters of Internet and privacy regulation.
Subscriber privacy is one key area of increasing concern for communications providers, as high-profile customer data breaches have cost businesses in other fields millions of dollars. Given the amount of customer data cable companies must keep on file, they must be particularly concerned about information security.
We can help you understand and comply with the many statutes and regulations mandating protection of subscriber information, including the CPNI rules, the CAN-SPAM Act, the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
Our privacy services focus on more than just compliance. We take a strategic approach to privacy planning. Womble Carlyle has extensive experience in helping companies draft and execute policies and procedures to help ensure data privacy, while still allowing you to collect the information you need.
Our experience includes:
- Policy advocacy in legislatures and agencies at the state and federal level
- Crafting appropriate privacy policies and best practices
- Addressing data breaches
- Compliance with privacy-related regulatory requirements
Our attorneys in the Telecommunications, Cable & Broadcast Group regularly appear at conferences and industry events related to privacy regulation. In addition, we publish a bi-monthly electronic Privacy Bulletin that includes discussion of upcoming privacy regulation and provides notice of important compliance deadlines in the various federal and state privacy regimes. Past issues of our Privacy Bulletin can be found here. To subscribe to receive the Privacy Bulletin, please click here.
Presented by Womble Carlyle and the Minnesota and Missouri Broadcast Associations
January 18, 2012 & February 23, 2012
Click here to view a recording of Part 1 of the webinar.
Click here to view a recording of Part 2 of the webinar.
Minnesota Political Broadcast Manual (pdf).
Missouri Political Broadcast Manual (pdf).
Eric Breisach, CIPP/US
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Rebecca E. Jacobs
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