Gathering & Reporting
Broadcasting - General.
advertising restrictions or requirements do not make political
advertising "better." Often
following a major political campaign year, legislators will
introduce bills designed to curb a particular problem they
encountered during their campaign, often relating to
kind of legislation often conflicts with requirements that
either candidates or broadcasters must meet under the
political broadcasting sections of the Communications Act, and
only adds to the already unacceptable level of confusion among
candidates about what elements their spots must include.
In addition, they typically run afoul of the First
Amendment protection given to political speech.
WSAB opposes these kinds of bills.
Advertising Content Restrictions.
It is not appropriate to make broadcasters liable
for advertising violations by their advertisers or to make
broadcasters the “advertising police.”
Very often, legislation intended to regulate a
particular type of business will include a section defining
what may and may not be said in advertising by such a
business. WSAB has
never opposed restrictions that prohibit “false and
However, WSAB does oppose content specific restrictions
which go beyond prohibiting “false and misleading”
opposes any attempt to make broadcasters liable in the event
that an advertiser’s announcement violates a substantive
Gathering & Reporting
Government Agency Meetings & Limitations on Access to
Government Agency Records.
Open public meetings and access to public records
are the only way the public and its surrogate “government
watchdog,” the press, have to make government accountable to
the citizens. In
every legislative session there are more than a few bills
introduced to restrict the public’s access to meetings of
government agencies or to records kept by government agencies.
News reporters stand in the same shoes as the public.
Meetings of governing bodies of public agencies and the
records created and held by government agencies are presumed
to be open and available to the public.
Special interest groups continually try to exempt
particular records from public scrutiny for their own private
purposes; government agency governing bodies often seek to add
to the existing list of reasons to close their meetings to the
reviews each proposed exemption to the Open Records Act and
Open Meetings Act, and opposes those proposed exemptions that
would prevent broadcast journalists from holding the
government accountable for its actions.
Drone legislation was vetoed by the Governor following
the 2014 legislative session.
Legislation being developed by a task force will be
introduced in 2015 to regulate the use of unmanned aerial
vehicles (drones) by government agencies, both law enforcement
and regulatory agencies. Privacy
concerns regarding the ability of drones to capture
information about individuals without their knowledge or
consent have been voiced by some.
Information in records collected by a government agency
are public records. The
most significant issue for broadcasters is the ability to have
access to video or other information collected by a government
operated drone as a public record.
The Federal Aviation Administration rules will govern
the use of drones by broadcast stations.
Recording by Law Enforcement.
Legislation was introduced in the previous legislative
sessions that would add recordings made by cameras worn by law
enforcement officers to the exemption to the “two-party
consent” rule for recording conversations.
WSAB and others worked with legislators to make an
additional change to the statute that would eliminate the
ability of police departments to refuse to make a copy of the
recording available until after the statute of limitations on
an action against the department of an officer has expired.
B & O Taxation.
B & O Tax statute is woefully out of date and needs to be
will be introduced in the 2015 session to address several
outdated provisions of the current law that have led the
Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR) to disallow the
standard deduction for national, regional and network
advertising revenue and, in some cases, the out-of-state
audience deduction, which makes revenue generated outside
Washington non-taxable. It
also corrects certain outdated provisions and adds certain
provisions that did not exist at the time the statute was
legislation will reinstate the standard deduction and
establish a reasonable schedule for updating the standard
maintains the ability of a station to deduct national,
regional and network advertising on an itemized basis, as well
as, the percentage of its out-of-state audience from the
taxable local advertising revenue.
It also establishes that revenue received by a station
for granting the right to use broadcast material
(retransmission consent revenue) is taxed as a royalty.
It also provides that retransmission consent revenue is
only taxable if the station receives it from an in-state payor.
WSAB supports the modernization of broadcasters B & O Tax
Sales Tax on Advertising.
Prior experience, particularly in Florida, shows
that a sales tax on advertising is completely
is impossible to administer to ensure that the transaction is
only taxed once. Advertising
increases demand for products and increases retail sales,
therefore, increasing the collection of the sales tax;
decreasing advertising by taxing its sale will decrease sales
tax collections. Local
businesses will end up shouldering the entire burden of the
retail sales tax because the U. S. Constitution prohibits
taxing out of state transactions.
Elected officials are always searching for new sources
of revenue and legislators have from time to time proposed
adding the sales tax to services generally, or advertising in
opposes a sales tax on the sale of advertising time, or
generally on services.
radio stations have been the target of patent infringement
claims by an aggressive company that has questionable claims
to the patents it seeks to license. Mission
Abstract Data, LLC, doing business as DigiMedia, claims it
holds patents for a digital music storage and playback method
and system for operating radio stations using a computer hard
drives with a digital database of stored music that is
programmed, played and broadcast. According to
DigiMedia, those patents are crucial to the automation of
radio programming. DigiMedia
filed a federal patent infringement lawsuit against several of
the largest radio companies in America and has sent demand for
licensing and payment to many, many more small broadcasters.
Legislation to be introduced in 2015 would attempt to regulate
abusive patent litigation and the assertion of bad faith
have been the victims of copper and other metal theft from
their tower sites and elsewhere.
The problem of thieves stealing metal from
businesses, utilities, cities and counties is growing an
alarming rate. Legislation
has been introduced in past sessions to seek creative ways to
reduce metal theft, including the formation of a Task Force
that would have included broadcast representatives to develop
recommendations for legislation to address the problem and
similar legislation could be introduced in the coming session.
Non-Competition Provisions in Broadcast
Covenants not to
compete are fair protection for the employer’s investment
and should be enforceable throughout the term of the contract
and after the contract ends for the duration of the
non-compete period. Stations
need to be able to protect the investment they have made in
their talent to build the personality brand connection between
the audience and the air-talent and the value that employee
receives as a result. The
courts have uniformly refused to enforce covenants not to
compete which overstep the bounds of fairness in the
geographical scope of the competition limit, the length of
time of the non-competition period or the nature of the
employment which is restricted.
But reasonably drawn restrictions protect a station
against unfair competition from another employer and do not
unduly restrict an employee from obtaining work.
Covenants not to compete should be enforceable after
the contract ends. WSAB
opposes prohibiting the enforcement of non-competition
agreements in broadcast employment agreements after the
contract has ended.
approved by the FCC and other relevant agencies, and in full
compliance with the FCC’s RF radiation exposure limits,
siting of broadcast towers can still be derailed at the local
level by pseudo-science.
The process often involves evidentiary hearings
regarding the findings of Environmental Impact Statements and
actions that impact a variety of environmental-oriented laws,
such as the State Environmental Policy Act.
Broadcasters are particularly vulnerable to problems
with these processes because of the limited number of
locations where a station’s tower can be sited.
Even though the application for a construction permit
has been approved by the FCC and any other agency involved,
the project can still be stalled by local land use advocates
under a process called the Precautionary Principle.
The Precautionary Principle provides that unless a
proponent of a land use application can prove beyond a shadow
of a doubt that the project will never have a negative impact
on the health or well-being of individuals now or in the
future, that project should be denied.
The Precautionary Principle permits anyone to derail a
land use permit application by raising even the slightest
opposes the integration of the Precautionary Principle into
Washington’s land use statutes.