Practice/Industry Group Overview
Our communications lawyers conduct a very broad-based, innovative and eclectic practice that spans traditional media, emerging intellectual property and Internet, federal and state regulatory, transactional, corporate and litigation support. Our clients include international information technology companies, wireless and wireline carriers, service vendors, media companies and large corporate purchasers of communications services. We serve those that seek an in-depth understanding both of the present legal environment and how to best position themselves to be prepared for the future challenges and opportunities.
Communications as a Dynamic Industry.
Representing information technology companies, wireless and wireline companies and broadcasters, we regularly practice before the Federal Communications Commission, NTIA, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of State, Federal Trade Commission, State Public Service Commissions, Congress, State Regulatory Agencies, and the U.S. Court of Appeals. Our roles include those of rulemaking advocate, representation of clients in enforcement actions and appeal, as well as in all forms of administrative litigation.
Wireless. Our attorneys are deeply experienced in regulatory history of the wireless industry, having participated in every phase of the development of commercial mobile services. We represent major national and regional commercial wireless service providers in matters of policy and corporate strategy that include FCC licensing, ownership and management of spectrum, auctions and secondary market activities, operations including interpreting and advocating change of FCC technical rules, intercarrier interconnection and compensation, federal preemption, as well as federal mandates including universal service. We work cooperatively with our corporate attorneys and have revised major carrier subscriber contracts, updating them with timely business and regulatory advice. We also represent parties seeking to exploit unlicensed spectrum opportunities and those delivering service using Internet Protocol applications.
Wireline. We represent wireline service providers before federal and state agencies on issues involving domestic and international communications law, regulation and policy. These clients also turn to us for guidance when the U.S. Congress considers legislation that bears on their businesses and investments.
Regulatory matters on which we assist wireline clients include negotiation and arbitration of interconnection agreements and appeal of state agency arbitration results, local exchange carrier cost of service and network investment regulations, federal universal service programs, federal statutory mandates such as CALEA and local number portability, federal and state telephone numbering policies, accounting and jurisdictional cost separation issues, license authorizations, including submarine cable landing licenses.
Broadcasting. Our experience in broadcasting encompasses virtually every aspect of television and radio broadcast operations—from regulatory compliance and appeals of FCC decisions to transactions, intellectual property, real estate, and employment matters.
We assist in acquisitions and sales of stations and in the formation of broadcast station groups, including constituting the purchasing entity, negotiating contracts to acquire stations, dealing with antitrust issues, and preparing and prosecuting FCC applications for the acquisitions. We advise groups participating in FCC auctions for broadcast spectrum-usage rights. We also represent clients before the FCC on policy and legal issues.
We have guided acquisitions and sales of non-commercial broadcast stations. We also provide day-to-day counseling for non-commercial broadcasters, on matters such as underwriting issues and station upgrades.
Working with Drinker Biddle attorneys who specialize in government relations, we encourage Members of Congress and state legislatures to promote new initiatives or to oppose threatened action on matters of communications policy. We also assist legislators who wish to undertake action that bears on highly technical areas of communications law. We have provided clients a voice in virtually every congressional initiative to rewrite the Communications Act of 1934 and in many debates concerning FCC policies and the direction of regulation.
Practicing for and with the Communications Industry.
Financing and Investment. Working closely with our colleagues in the Private Equity and Commercial Lending practices, we counsel investors, lenders and owners in financing and investment in communications industry companies. For start-up operations seeking joint venture partners and investors, we assess legal and regulatory conditions and evaluate regulatory risk. We also provide assistance in identifying specialized consultants and service providers that can add value to the transaction.
We advise private equity fund managers regarding investments in wireless communications, broadcasting and other sectors of the communications industry. We have served as communications law counsel in connection with initial public offerings, refinancings and stock issuance transactions.
Litigation. We represent wireline clients in litigation matters involving local and long distance telephone service rates, terms, and practices, interstate and intrastate telephone exchange access service rates and policies, federal preemption of state and local regulation of communications services, operator service and pay telephone access and compensation disputes. We provide wireless clients with guidance in similar matters and others, including consumer disclosures, regulatory cost recovery and truth-in-billing issues.
Media and Emerging Technologies.
Our clients create, control and transmit content. Rapid changes in technology and the marketplace create constant changes in relationships, rights, opportunities and legal issues. We assist in providing context to clients regarding FCC policies involving the digital television transition and the protection of digital content transmitted over the Internet.
Media companies today may be traditional broadcasters and publishers or companies new to the “content business.” Changes from traditional analog to digital technologies and the Internet create opportunities to offer delivery of new, varied content to audiences worldwide. As companies contribute and create value in entertainment and other programming, they seek to protect it. We have helped, for example, companies obtain FCC certification of digital television content protection (broadcast flag) for software-based digital rights management packages.