Legal Hotlines

The MBA provides access to legal advice on recurring legal questions. We address both newsroom and advertising legal issues. Aiding MBA members in complying with the law and avoiding legal disputes. For the number or more information, please contact the MBA office.

The hotline is intended to address newsroom and advertising legal issues, to aid member stations in complying with the law and avoiding legal disputes. You can call the hotline with issues in the following and related areas:

Newsroom issues

  • access to public records, courts, and public meetings
  • cameras in the courtroom
  • subpoenas seeking materials or testimony
  • invasion of privacy
  • court procedures
  • news gathering problems
  • reporter’s privilege and confidentiality general advice
  • libel, invasion of privacy or other pre-publication advice
  • copyrights and trademarks
  • news websites

Advertising issues

  • alcohol advertising regulations
  • automotive advertising
  • lottery and gambling advertising
  • tobacco advertising
  • sweepstakes and promotions
  • internet website advertisements
  • commercial misappropriation (use of endorsements and celebrities)
  • state law claims based on political advertising (e.g., libel claims or claims of violation of state statutes or regulations)
  • Federal Trade Commission advertising regulations and guidelines
  • Electronic Cigarettes

It is expected that the hotline attorneys, who are experienced in media law, will answer inquires based on existing research.

Hotline questions should be confined to issues capable of being posed as general or hypothetical questions – e.g., “Are coroner’s office reports available under the Sunshine law?”; “Can we advertise Texas Hold-Em Tournaments?”; “Can we use a photo from a company’s website in a news report about the company?” This requirement of general or hypothetical questions will maintain the preventative purpose of the hotline and help avoid conflict-of-interest issues for the law firm.

If calls seek advice on matters beyond the scope of the hotline, attorneys may decline to assist, refer the member to other counsel, or propose handling of the matter for the member under a normal direct attorney-client basis. If such additional consultations, or court or administrative agency action, are required, any fee and cost arrangements would be between the MBA member and the law firm.

Only MBA members are entitled to avail themselves of the hotline.

The MBA board and staff hope that the hotline will prove beneficial to members. The staff and board are committed to listening to members and ensuring that the hotline serves members’ needs. We welcome your participation and your comments and suggestions.

 

Federal Attorney Womble Carlye, Greg P. Skall

State Attorney Mark Sableman, Thompson Coburn, LLC St. Louis

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