Communications Law Entertainment and Sports Law: An Overview
Communications law is concerned with the regulation of radio and TV broadcasting to insure satisfactory service and to prevent chaos. Because broadcasting by its nature transcends state boundaries, the Federal government has largely occupied the field.
Congress created and delegated its authority in communications to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC has the power (under 47 U.S.C. § 303), among other things, to set forth standards for transmitting color television. Under the Communications Act of 1934, the FCC was given power to regulate and control "radio communications." Such communications were held to include the transmission by radio of writing, signs, signals, pictures, and sounds of all kinds.
What role is left for the states after such heavy federal regulation? States cannot regulate the content of the programs broadcast (even if the television station is situated within the state) and cannot require that motion pictures broadcast over the station be submitted to a state board of censors for their approval.
Sports Law: an Overview
Sports Law encompasses a multitude areas of law brought together in unique ways. Issues such as antitrust, contracts, and torts are quite common.
Sports Law can be roughly divided into the areas of amateur, professional, and international sports. The distinction between a professional and amateur athlete is somewhat tenuous. So-called "amateur" student/athletes at universities often receive scholarships and other forms of compensation. Also, keep in mind that even though an athlete may be defined as an amateur by one organization, he or she may not be an amateur according to another. Of course, this leads to even more confusion. A simplistic, yet useful definition is that amateur athletes participate in sports as an avocation while professional athletes are involved in sports as a vocation.
The concept of amateur sports includes a range of activities from an individual casual weekend athlete to high school athletics to extensively organized intercollegiate or international competitions. Athletic activities are often organized and managed by individual groups that establish rules for eligibility and competition, and courts are often unwilling to interfere with the actions of these groups as long as their rules are reasonably applied. Perhaps the most important of these organizations is the National Collegiate Athletic Association ("NCAA"). The NCAA is the governing body for intercollegiate sports and has over 1000 member colleges and universities. Although roughly 50% of the NCAA's members are sponsored by state governments, the Supreme Court has suggested that the eligibility rules of the NCAA are not state action for constitutional law purposes.
See NCAA v. Tarkanian
, 109 U.S. 454 (1988). State action status may also be a factor in mandatory drug testing rules. On the other hand, most actions of state High School athletic associations have been seen as state action. Colleges and universities which receive federal aid are also subject to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX") and must not discriminate on the basis of sex in their athletic programs. Compliance with Title IX could have a significant impact on college sports as administrators attempt to balance out the men's and women's sports programs.
Perhaps the most important relationship in the area of professional sports is that between the individual player and the team owner. This contractual relationship is governed by basic contract principles. Most sports leagues now have a Standard Player's Contract which serves as a model employment contract between players and owners. The model contract can be modified to accommodate the special needs and talents of individual players. With the increase in salaries in professional sports, most players are now represented by agents. Typically, this relationship is governed by a Standard Representation Contract which defines the duties and compensation of the agent. In an attempt to regulate agent activities, many state legislatures now require agents to register with some type of administrative agency.
Antitrust issues have been particularly important to professional sports leagues. While baseball has been able to maintain its exemption from antitrust legislation (See Federal Base Ball Club of Baltimore v. National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs , 259 U.S. 200 (1922), which held that baseball isn't interstate commerce) other professional sports have often run into problems in this area. International Sports
The two major international sports competitions are the Olympics, sponsored by the International Olympic Committee, and the World Cup, sponsored by FIFA. The United States chartered the United States Olympic Committee ("USOC") in 1950. The USOC has charge over Olympic and other related competitions (Pan Am games, etc.) to which the United States sends a team.
media law: an overview
Freedom of the press is a fundamental liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. As such, courts and legislative bodies have been hesitant to impinge on that freedom. In fact, there are numerous state and federal statutes that seek to ensure the full extent of the guarantee of the First Amendment such as the Freedom of Information Act, and the Privacy Act.
Historically, media law has been divided into two areas: telecommunications and print sources (newspapers, periodicals, etc.). There are some federal regulations regarding both categories, and there are state laws governing both areas as well. The scope of these laws is limited by the First Amendment. (see also: communication law)
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate and foreign communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. It was created by the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.) to regulate interstate and foreign communications by wire and radio in the public interest.
Different branches of the media are regulated by different bureaus. The Mass Media Bureau regulates amplitude and frequency modulation, low-power television, and direct broadcast satellite. The Common Carrier Bureau regulates telephone and cable facilities. The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau administers all domestic commercial and private wireless telecommunications programs and policies. The International Bureau manages all international programs. The Cable Services Bureau regulates cable television. In a sweeping overhaul of the communications Act of 1934, Congress enacted the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (47 U.S.C. 51 et seq.). Its goal was to deregulate the industry and encourage competition.
The growth of the Internet and digital media more generally have begun to blur the boundaries between media segments. In 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) to deal with Internet issues and the advanced technologies used to bypass copy protection devices.
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