A Student’s Reflections on Interning at the FCC

FCC1From Varsha Mangal, a 3L at UNC School of Law and recipient of one of the Center’s Summer Public Interest Grants:

This past summer, I interned at the Office of General Counsel at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. The FCC regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. With the elections near, it was a very exciting time to be at the FCC. Over the course of the summer, the agency had won the net-neutrality case in U.S. Court of Appeals, and was working on many controversial issues such as the proposed rulemakings on privacy and the set-top-boxes.

At the Office of General, I got a birds-eye view of the agency and exposure to the work being done in the different bureaus. I spent most of my time researching and drafting memoranda on intellectual property and contract issues relevant to rulemaking proceedings. I gained a good understanding of administrative law as I updated the attorney handbook with recent developments in the law and wrote briefs on judicial opinions regarding administrative law cases that were released over the summer.  Additionally, I read comments submitted to the FCC and attended ex-parte meetings. Most of my work focused on the major issues arising from the Media Bureau, but I also got to exposure to merger and antitrust issues.

Although there are only a few interns at the OGC, every office and bureau in the agency takes legal interns. Thus, the intern program is quite extensive and the FCC hosted several brown-bag lunches for the students, where speakers such as Chairman Tom Wheeler and the Founder of BET would come speak to us. Also, D.C. is a wonderful place to spend the summer and has several fun things to do for free – which is great for students on a budget!

I would strongly recommend students to apply to the FCC for an internship if they are interested in media law or working for the federal government down the road. Even for those who may want to work in the private sector, the FCC is one of the major government regulators in the media industry and the insight that you receive at the agency will be incredibly valuable. Furthermore, the people I worked with at the agency were brilliant, kind, and great mentors.

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Media Law Student Spent Summer Working in Business and Legal Affairs Office of Broadway Video

bvid-logo-lrgFrom Rachel Rice, a 2L at UNC School of Law and recipient of one of the Center’s Summer Public Interest Grants:

This summer I worked in the Business and Legal Affairs Office of Broadway Video Entertainment. The Business and Legal Affairs Office is located in Los Angeles, California. Broadway Video, a Lorne Michaels company, is known for producing Saturday Night Live, Portlandia, 30 Rock, Documentary Now!, Maya & Marty, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Man Seeking Woman. The company has recently expanded and created its own YouTube platform focused on Latino comedy, titled Mas Mejor, as well as a short-form comedy distributor known as Above Average.

My work this summer focused on aiding the company’s two attorneys with whatever they needed. As a large production company with a small legal team, the Business and Legal Affairs Office provided me with the opportunity to gain experience in almost every aspect of entertainment law. The legal team handles all of the talent, television licensing, music licensing, and locations agreements, as well as any copyright, and trademark issues, among other things.

My biggest project of the summer was summarizing the agreements between IFC (the Independent Film Channel) and Broadway Video for the distribution of Portlandia and Documentary Now! Each agreement had multiple amendments, and in order to consolidate all of the information for quick access to important clauses, I created a chart outlining each agreement as a whole.

I compared countless contracts (really, countless), drafting and editing the standard terms and conditions sections to meet company standards. I formatted talent agreements and examined them for any changes made by the talent agency that might have gone unnoticed. I drafted licensing agreements for the international distribution of Saturday Night Live, Portlandia, and Documentary Now! I also drafted agreements between Broadway Video and airline companies in order to allow the airlines to keep their fliers entertained with recent episodes of Saturday Night Live and Portlandia.

When I wasn’t drafting and editing contracts I was researching labor and employment issues to ensure that SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild), DGA (Directors Guild of America), and WGA (Writers Guild of America) standards were being adhered to regarding the hiring of directors, writers, and actors. I read through scripts to make sure they met internal standards as well as avoided any copyright and trademark issues.

I summarized the pros and cons of various arbitration forums in order to help the office determine which forum would be best, should the need for arbitration arise. In addition, I summarized agreements between Broadway Video and Pepsi, and Broadway Video and Volkswagen for the use of their products in various episodes of television shows.

Working in the Business and Legal Affairs Office was a fantastic opportunity that gave me invaluable experience in transactional, media, and entertainment law. Even outside of work, living in Los Angeles was a phenomenal experience. There is never a dull moment in the city and it’s true what everyone says about the weather – it’s perfect. I would highly recommend this opportunity to any student interested in pursuing a career in any form of media law.

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Meeting Nina Totenberg

Senior NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg did not begin her 50-year career in broadcast journalism thinking she would cover the Supreme Court. But in the early 1970s, Totenberg, then with the National Observer, was assigned to cover the highest court in the land and she has been the go-to source for goings-on at SCOTUS ever since.totenberg

I had the honor of meeting Ms. Totenberg Tuesday, September 20, 2016, when she visited UNC for the annual Frey Foundation Distinguished Lecture. She regaled the capacity crowd in Memorial Hall with tales from her decades of dogged reporting. She recalled meeting a young Ruth Bader Ginsberg — whom she called “the female Thurgood Marshall” — and following her rise to seniority and influence on the Court.

Guided by UNC School of Law professor Michael Gerhardt’s incisive questions, Totenberg described in vibrant and poignant terms how politics influence the Court’s composition. She critiqued both Democrat and Republican attempts to tip the balance of the Court along political, ideological lines, citing the failed confirmation of Robert Bork and the controversy surrounding President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

Following the lecture, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, and administrators, faculty and students from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Media and Journalism, and the School of Law joined Totenberg for dinner and conversation. Dinner offered us an intimate look into the public and personal lives of the justices through Totenberg’s eyes.  At dinner, Totenberg’s stories took on additional life. She described in heartfelt anecdotes the occasionally fiery but always collegial relationship between Justice Ginsberg and the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whom she affectionately called “Nino.” The guests appeared to hang on Totenberg’s every word, relishing the opportunity to learn from the most seasoned legal correspondent to ever cover the Court.

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Hartzog becomes Starnes Professor of Law

Law School Outside Headshots 8.11Woodrow “Woody” Hartzog, a Ph.D. graduate of the UNC School of Media and Journalism, will become the Starnes Professor of Law in a ceremony at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Alabama next week.  Congratulations, Woody!!

Woody graduated from UNC in 2011 as that year’s outstanding Ph.D. graduate.  He quickly became one of the foremost privacy scholars in the nation.  You can read about him and his publications here.

While at Carolina, Woody worked for the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy.  He helped to organize several First Amendment Day celebrations, and the Center still relies on him to suggest great speakers and mentor our media law students.

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Dual-Degree Spent Summer at the ACLU and FPF

img_0598This summer, I interned at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU-NC) in San Francisco and the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) in Washington, DC. Both internships provided great opportunities to work on assignments related to my research interest – student privacy – and to be exposed to new areas of law.

The ACLU-NC’s mission is “to protect and advance civil liberties for all Californians” and includes issues related to both consumer privacy and government surveillance. At the ACLU-NC, I worked on a variety of projects related to protecting students’ privacy, including drafting a memo on school video surveillance, creating a handout on the impact of cell phone searches, and providing research for an amicus brief on warrantless electronic searches of young people.

At the ACLU-NC, there were also many opportunities to learn outside of the office. Just a few weeks after I arrived, I took a tour of the San Joaquin Valley with nine other ACLU-NC interns who were from across the nation. The tour is a foundational part of the ACLU-NC’s Law and Policy Internship Program. It helped me gain a better understanding of issues that are relevant to Californians and the ACLU-NC’s work supporting local organizations, which has been extremely effective. Later in the internship program, I interviewed homeless individuals to help challenge the seizure of their property by a local municipality and participated in the ACLU-NC’s campaign to stop Fresno County from allowing Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents inside the county jail. It was an incredible two months on the West Coast!

FPF is a non-profit organization that serves as a catalyst for privacy leadership and scholarship, advancing principled data practices in support of emerging technologies. It’s known for its centrist voice in the privacy world. I applied to work there because of the Student Privacy Pledge, which was introduced by FPF and the Software & Information Industry Association in 2014 and endorsed by President Obama in 2015. It’s a big deal because companies that sign show their commitment to protecting student data privacy and it’s legally enforceable under Section 5 of the Consumer Protection Act. I had the opportunity to review ed tech companies’ privacy policies to ensure that they met the requirements of the Pledge before they were listed as a signatory.

My time in Washington, DC at FPF was just as exciting as my time in San Francisco. I quickly learned to keep a blazer in the office because I never knew when there would be an opportunity to attend a meeting on the Hill or venture off on my own to a tech conference. It was also not uncommon for FPF to host meetings with leading figures from industry, academia, law, and advocacy groups in order to advance the privacy dialogue and for the FPF staff to demonstrate how the latest technology companies are addressing privacy concerns by introducing new forms of notice and choice. At FPF, I had an opportunity to highlight the benefits as well as the challenges of these emerging technologies as a co-author of FPF’s comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Association on the Internet of Things.

Altogether, it was an amazing summer! I’ve returned to UNC with new research ideas and memories that will last a lifetime.

Chanda Marlowe

Dual-degree student, earning a master’s in mass communication and a J.D. degree

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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