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The broadcasting practice of Cohn and Marks LLP has roots which reach back to the earliest days of Federal regulation. Its founders, Marcus Cohn and Leonard H. Marks, held significant legal positions with the FCC in the early 1940's and the firm has been a participant in virtually every major regulatory communications issue in the last five decades, from TV allocations and noncommercial broadcasting to program regulation and deregulation, pay TV, cable television, satellite communications, network regulation, television program supply and distribution, “payola” and “plugola,” indecency, political broadcasting, minority ownership, equal employment opportunity, and the transition to a digital world.

With the advent of deregulation in the 1980's, much of the firm’s primary broadcast work has shifted from an emphasis on day-to-day regulatory and operational issues to the major broadcast business transactions that resulted from the relaxation of FCC multiple ownership rules and the repeal of the three year “anti-trafficking” policies. As a result, the firm has been centrally involved in a variety of major transactions that have transformed the shape of the broadcast industry. The forces that have generated the financial and ownership restructuring of the 1980's remain largely intact.

Broadcasting, viewed as a cash flow driven business, continues to attract new capital and new owners. The Federal regulatory atmosphere appears, however, to be more attuned to reimposition of some policies that may blunt the largely laissez faire program that characterized the FCC during the Mark Fowler and Dennis Patrick Chairmanships.

In the 21st Century, broadcast regulations will be characterized by political, legal and social pressures to maintain the benefits of the free marketplace in program choice, while encouraging the growth of multiple competitive broadcast outlets at the local, regional, and national levels, responding to the social and political pressures generated by use of drugs, programming of questionable taste, providing enhanced service to children and employment and ownership opportunities to minorities, and managing the political power of the media to act as a gatekeeper and commentator regarding the urgent political and social issues of the day.

All these matters promise to maintain the need for experienced, sophisticated legal advice for an industry that must compete to survive and thrive and must obtain a Federal license for the privilege to try. More information on current developments affecting broadcasters can be provided.

CONTACT: Richard A. Helmick

Link to Other Practice Areas:

Cable Television


Intellectual Property, Advertising, and Other Small Business Concerns


Cohn and Marks LLP
1101 17th Street NW  |  Suite 1001   |  Washington, D.C. 20036-1622    | Tel. (202) 293-3860 |  Facsimile: (202) 293-4827


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Rev. 5/13/16