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Exclusive Reports: Non-Compete Clauses in the Broadcasting Industry

May 20, 2010Article
Law Law Land

Recently, MSNBC anchor David Shuster was suspended indefinitely (and most likely, permanently) after he taped a pilot for competitor CNN in violation of his contract. As David Shuster’s suspension makes headlines, non-compete clauses in employment contracts for broadcasting employees, and particularly news anchors, may once again become the subject of controversy. Several states, including Arizona, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York, restrict broadcasting employers’ use of non-compete clauses in their broadcasting contracts. California has taken a more extreme view of non-compete clauses, banning these types of clauses across the board with very limited exceptions.

New York, for example, enacted the Broadcast Employees Freedom to Work Act in 2008. The Act prohibits certain restrictions on broadcasting employees that had previously limited their employment options after leaving a company. The Act bans contract provisions akin to non-compete agreements that prohibit broadcasting employees from taking another job in a certain geographic area, with a competitor in the same industry, or within a particular period of time. However, this Act is significantly limited — a broadcasting employer may subject its employees to any of these restrictions during the term of the employment contract. In other words, the Act prohibits enforcement of these restrictions only after the term of the employment contract has expired or terminated.

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