In 10 days, we’ll mark the 12th anniversary of my first post welcoming readers to this Blog. I’d like to thank all of you who read the blog, and the many of you who have had nice words to say about its contents over the years. In the dozen years that the blog has been active, our audience has grown dramatically. In fact, I’m amazed by all the different groups of readers – broadcasters and employees of digital media companies, attorneys and members of the financial community, journalists, regulators and many students and educators. Because of all the encouragement that I have received from readers, I keep going, hopefully providing you all with some valuable information along the way.
I want to thank those who have supported me in being able to bring this blog to you. My old firm, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP helped me get this started (and graciously allowed me to take the blog with me when I moved to my current firm six years ago). My current firm, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP, has also been very supportive, and I particularly want to thank several attorneys at the firm (especially David O’Connor and Kelly Donohue) who help catch, on short notice, my typos and slips in analysis for articles that I usually get around to finishing shortly before my publication deadline. Also, a number of other attorneys at the firm including Mitch Stabbe, Aaron Burstein, Bob Kirk and Josh Bercu have contributed articles, and I hope that they will continue with their valuable contributions in the future. Thanks, also, to my friendly competitors at the other law firms that have taken up publishing blogs on communications and media legal issues since I launched mine – you all do a great job with your own take on the issues, and you inspire me to try to keep up with you all.
I’ve posted over 2000 articles in the last 12 years. That works out to almost an article once every other day. But there never seems to be any shortage of topics to write about. In fact, what is in short supply is time – as clients and life need to come first, and blogging gets worked into the schedule when it fits. But writing this blog has become an important part of my legal practice. It has, I think, helped make me a better lawyer, as it has given me an incentive to keep up to date on developments in the law and in business that affect broadcasters and other media companies. The articles, and the opportunities that the articles have opened for speaking and otherwise contributing to industry discussions, have introduced me to many people in the industry who are there pushing these developments. Interacting with those actually in the business trenches provide even more to write about.
When we first started the blog, I don’t think that I was sure how it would turn out. But, among the many goals that I set in my first post, was the following:
So some days, the blog may just report on FCC actions. Other days, we may link to interesting or provocative news stories that we see in the trade or popular press. But sometimes, we will tackle more fundamental issues. For instance, one of the first questions we’ll have to address is just what the broadcast industry is today. While we could limit the stories in this blog to just matters about the over-the-air broadcast industry, that narrow view would be far too limiting. Broadcasting is no longer an island unto itself. Instead, each day it becomes more and more clear that the world that traditional broadcasting inhabits is one that goes far beyond those narrow areas that the FCC has traditionally defined as a broadcast service. Thus, we will be pointing out developments and legal decisions that impact not only traditional over-the-air radio and television stations, but also those in the myriad “new media” that are now so crucial to any understanding of the broadcast industry. Media “convergence,” which has for so long been nothing more than a buzz word thrown around to make it seem like we’re thinking about the future, is finally here, and cannot be ignored in a discussion of the broadcast industry.
Looking back, that may have been an ambitious goal, but it is one that we continue to try to achieve. In fact, in the last couple of months, we published articles on the Music Modernization Act, legal issues for broadcasters in digital and social media advertising, a Supreme Court decision that may provide broadcasters with new revenue from advertising for sports betting, efforts to regulate online political advertising, and potential reform of the radio ownership rules based on the plethora of new media outlets for audio entertainment. It is clear that the initial vision of a broadcasting industry that has expanded far beyond its traditional over-the-air bounds was not just the first question that we would address, but it is one that we address every week.
And there still is an inexhaustible supply of issues that we need to follow. Of course, the current FCC is very active reforming the regulatory landscape for broadcasters, which will no doubt prompt many articles. Copyright issues are also more important than ever – look for articles in the near future on what’s next for the Music Modernization Act and on how Alexa, Google Home and other voice-activated legal assistants raise royalty considerations for program providers. Expect more coverage of changes in the broadcast ownership rules, and in many areas affecting the advertising landscape, including legal issues raised by programmatic buying (about which we have written before – see for instance here and here).
Thanks again to all our readers. Keep reading, tell your friends about the blog, let me know if I can ever help you (I am, of course, a lawyer whose clients provide the resources to track all of these issues), and we’ll see what happens as we celebrate future anniversaries of the Broadcast Law Blog.