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Counsel, Walt Disney Co.

Disney Legal is seeking a highly qualified attorney to take on a wide range of responsibilities advising ABC News and the news operations of the ABC owned television stations on legal issues arising in newsgathering and editorial activities, including pre-publication review of broadcast, on-line, and streaming news reports and guidance on libel, privacy, access, and copyright (fair use), as well as advising the ABC owned stations, ABC News, and ABC Entertainment clients on a range of FCC and FTC regulatory issues. Initially the Counsel will work under the direct and on-going supervision of other attorneys in the ABC Law & Regulation group, but eventually the Counsel will be expected to work with substantial independence providing legal advice directly to ABC clients.

The ABC Law & Regulation group is based in New York City and Counsel would presumptively be based there as well, but location in Disney/ABC offices in Burbank, California or Washington, DC may be discussed as well.

Responsibilities

The ABC Law & Regulation group provides legal advice and support to ABC News, the ABC owned television stations, ABC local and network political sales, and the ABC scripted and unscripted Broadcast Standards & Practices groups on a wide range of matters including: editorial and newsgathering issues involved in the preparation and the broadcast, on-line and streaming distribution of national and local news programming (e.g. libel, privacy, trespass, surreptitious recording, subpoenas, access, copyright/fair use); FCC and FTC regulatory issues (e.g. licensing, children’s programming, political and issue advertising, equal time, indecency, sponsor identification, public file, FCC EEO requirements, issues/programs reports, closed captioning); and sweepstakes/ contests/ promotions. Depending on the attorney’s prior experience and the group’s needs, the successful applicant for the Counsel position will be expected to take on some combination of the following duties:

  • Reviewing news scripts and rough cuts for libel, privacy, copyright (fair use) and other issues, and working with network and station news teams to address such issues;
  • Reviewing investigative and newsgathering proposals and advising network and station news teams on legal risks and suggested approaches;
  • Drafting, reviewing, and/or revising a variety of releases, consent forms, nondisclosure agreements, and other documents;
  • Reviewing and advising network and station news teams on retraction demands, takedown requests, subpoenas, copyright infringement claims, and other legal threats and challenges;
  • Reviewing network and station political and issue advertising to ensure it complies with federal and state regulations, meets ABC standards, and (in the case of issue and non-candidate political advertising) does not raise libel, privacy, or other issues
  • Review and advise station clients on political advertising rate issues, children’s programming requirements and reports, issue//program reports, FCC EEO obligations, closed caption requirements (including responding to viewer complaints), sponsor identification rules, and/or other FCC regulatory matters
  • Review and advise network and station clients on the devising and execution of sweepstakes, contests, and promotions and associated rules.

It is expected that the Counsel will begin working under the close supervision of attorneys within the ABC Law & Regulation group but that over time the Counsel will take on increasing responsibilities and independence in their work with their own set of news clients, as well as assisting with other clients when colleagues are out of the office. .

Basic Qualifications

  • JD or equivalent
  • Strong academic credentials
  • Admission to the New York State Bar or willingness and qualification (including admission in another state) to register as in-house counsel in New York State
  • Minimum of two years of law firm and/or in-house attorney work preferably including experience in one or more of the following:
    • Pre-publication review and/or litigation defense of news content, including experience with libel, privacy, newsgathering, and copyright/fair use;
    • FCC broadcast regulatory work in the areas noted above;
    • Contest and promotion review.

The candidate must have excellent interpersonal and communication abilities, including the ability to work well with both attorneys and journalist clients; possess outstanding legal analytic skills; demonstrate motivation, accountability and independent initiative; be willing to take on evening and weekend coverage assignments and to be on call for news clients essentially 24/7; and be able to prioritize, multitask and work quickly and collaboratively under tight deadlines in a fast-paced and continuous news cycle environment.

For more information and to apply, click here.