Legal Hotlines

The MBA Hotline is intended to address newsroom and advertising legal issues for member stations to comply with the law and avoid 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 and e-cigarette 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

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.

To use the hotline, contact the MBA Staff at 573-636-6692 or email Mark Gordon.

Federal Attorney: Gregg P. Skall, 202-789-3121, Telecommunications Law Professionals, PLLC, Washington, D.C.

State Attorney: Mark Sableman, 314-552-6103, Thompson Coburn, LLC, St. Louis