How a media and television lawyer can help you

 

The role of television in the everyday life of Britons has changed dramatically in the past 50 years, with developments in technology, the increase in the amount of available channels, home shopping networks, advertising, satellite and cable all contributing to the change.

TV lawyers are specialists in all aspects of television production and distribution. Television production and distribution includes a broad range of activities which span across legal areas.

What does a TV lawyer do?

Contract law is an important specialisation of TV lawyers. Media and television lawyers can assist you with reviewing, drafting, and negotiating contracts for:

  • Development
  • Production, and co-production
  • For writers, directors or producers

TV lawyers are also experienced with:

  • Distribution agreements
  • Financing agreements
  • Licensing agreements
  • Contributor/talent agreements

Regulation

Another important aspect of television and media law is the regulatory side. Ofcom (the Office of Communications) is the communications regulator charged with responsibility for regulating the television and radio sectors, as well as fixed line telecoms and mobiles and the airwaves over which wireless devices operate.

Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code sets out the principles and rules which broadcasters must observe. These rules cover issues such as:

  • Defining ‘harm’ and offences
  • Impartiality and accuracy
  • Sponsorship and commercial references
  • Fairness and privacy

Ofcom can impose fines of up to £250,000 upon broadcasters who breach the Code. Ofcom does not preview the content before it goes on air, and therefore television lawyers are required to undertake careful risk assessments before airing programmes. Media and television lawyers can also advise upon the regulations imposed and monitored by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Advertising

The vast majority of funds which allow this industry to flourish come from advertising, and the price per ad is largely determined by the ratings the show has.

However in order for a show to be financially successful it must also be cost-effective (i.e. it should bring in more money than it cost the network to put the show on television).

Lawyers are a vital part of securing this productivity. For example, lawyers ensured higher ratings (and by extension, higher profitability) for Channel 4’s broadcast of The Daily Show by stopping the availability of the show’s videos through the show’s website to UK audiences.

This forced UK viewers to either watch the show on the Channel 4 website (where advertisements appear) or on television. Lawyers were able to achieve this through the deal between Channel 4 and the American company that owns the rights, which included a term guaranteeing that UK users will be blocked from accessing the videos online.

Dealing with matters involving TV law has many considerations. It is recommended to seek specialist advice to ensure you are making the most money possible for your new production. For further information, see our guidance page on TV law.

Do you need a TV lawyer to help you with a media issue you are having? Are you a producer and need a TV lawyer to help you with the legal implications of getting your show commissioned? Contact Law works with some of the best TV lawyers in the field and can recommend a particular solicitor depending on your legal issue. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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