By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, Sterling on Sunday
It’s tough enough for radio talent to navigate stable careers in these days of consolidated station ownership, personnel cutbacks and drastic salary reductions – but the NAB’s newly stated stance on non-competes adds insult to injury and is out of step with the interests of beleaguered professionals still hanging on for dear life in the programming sector of this industry. I understand that the National Association of Broadcasters is at heart a lobbying group representing the interests of the medium’s ownership but, c’mon – non-competes really are of another era and egregiously unfair.
This week the NAB announced that they were not in favor of the FTC ruling to ban non-compete clauses that prevent radio talent from crossing the street. The FTC is proposing the ban on non-competes for a broad section of industries compelling dozens of industry lobbies to sign a letter to Congress in opposition to the ban.
The lobbyists’ letter says that the FTC’s rule would invalidate millions of contracts around the country that courts, scholars, and economists have found entirely reasonable and beneficial for both businesses and employees. “Accordingly, we ask you (Congress) to exercise your oversight and appropriations authority to closely examine the FTC’s proposed rule-making.”
Government interference with the practices of any industry, especially in the area of freedom of competition, is never a good idea. The NAB and other industries believe banning non-competes constitutes FTC overreach. And that is a solid argument. However, the NAB also suggests that broadcasters present a unique case for non-compete clauses due to the “substantial investments broadcasters make in promoting on-air talent.” That’s where they are grossly behind the times.
Maybe in TV. But it has been decades since any radio company has made any investment in promoting their on-air talent. Do you have a $500 “name” jingle? Where are the billboards? Whatever happened to TV and newspaper ads?
Non-competes are deployed in most industries to protect trade secrets. All of radio’s trade secrets are on the air!