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Media Communications and the Law

FCC Fines for Olympus Has Fallen Trailer

Thursday, 06 March 2014 17:13

For its creative use of the emergency alert system in one trailer, the movie Olympus Has Fallen earned fines totaling $1.9 million for three media companies that ran advertisements for the movie.  Viacom was the biggest offender according the FCC, with fines totaling $1.12 million for showing the trailer 108 times across its seven cable stations.  The other fined companies were Disney and Comcast for showing the same ad.  As the below article illustrates, it is not the first time that the FCC has flexed its muscles concerning use of the familiar emergency alert system sounder.   



Governor's Race Makes Strange Bedfellows

Written by Judd Pritchard   
Sunday, 25 August 2013 23:30

Greg Abbott, the current Attorney General for the State of Texas (and presumptive Republican nominee for Texas Governor), has made a political career out of locking horns with the Obama Administration on a variety of different issues, from Voter ID laws to Obamacare.  So, when you see the headline that Gen. Abbott is joining with the Obama Administration Department of Justice on any issue, it raises your attention level.  This past week, Abbott chose to join the DOJ's effort to block the proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways.  Making this decision even more quizzical is the fact that American Airlines is based in Texas and has long been (no matter your thoughts on their actual performance) a crown jewel of corporate Texas.  Some question what the future holds for American Airlines if this merger is killed. 

So, why would Abbott walk arm-in-arm with Obama on a major issue that is so critical to the economy of Texas?

No doubt that Attorney General Abbott's press releases will be filled with legal justifications for doing so.  And that may actually be the case. As Sigmund Freud once said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."


However, in politics, a "cigar" is often a disguise for the fire burning elsewhere.  Candidate Abbott says that he is concerned with the impact that the merger will have on smaller markets throughout Texas.  However, his likely opponent, Senator Wendy Davis, has taken an equally unusual step in openly opposing President Obama's position on blocking the merger - citing the need to save Texas jobs. 


This appears to be the first step in the Governor's Race 2014.  It may just be minor skirmish but gives some clues about where the candidates may feel they are vulnerable.  Greg Abbott trying to bolster small business/smaller city support and Wendy Davis attempting to show some support for Texas jobs and the economy after making a national and statewide splash with social issues.

Great political decisions are made now and the impact of these decisions is not felt until about two weeks before the election.  Of course, bad decisions can blow up immediately. 

UPDATE: Some early analysis of the two sides from the FW Business Press.



Reality TV Lawsuit: Star of TV's Big Rich Texas sues for defamation

Written by Judd Pritchard   
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 16:43

In a glimpse of unintended consequences of the reality TV boom, one cast member of Big Rich Texas is incensed over the "jealousy" of three women who were not cast on the show but continue to harass her in a very reality TV-esque manner - social media.  


Pamela Martin Duarte, a cast member of the Style Network show Big Rich Texas, has filed a lawsuit against three Dallas women alleging defamation, business disparagement and other torts for their alleged use of social media and email to denigrate the reputation of Ms. Duarte.  

As soon as the petition and other pleadings are available, I will post accordingly.

No word yet on whether the discovery phase will include an admission that the "posh Dallas country club" is actually Woodhaven Country Club in Fort Worth.


The REAL Big Miss

Written by Judd Pritchard   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 16:47

As a communications attorney and consultant, I am often asked about the remarkable and spectacular fall of Tiger Woods.  There are not many better examples in the communications world about how something so great can fail so quickly - and mostly because of his poor preparation for crisis.

Just before his Cadillac hit the fire hydrant, Tiger was arguably the most popular and marketable athlete of all time.  Even to those predisposed to resenting him, his greatness was undeniable and his public persona was one of a hyper-focused athlete whose talent had launched several brands.

The collision with the fire hydrant and resulting media onslaught sprung a leak in his public image that yet to be repaired.  

My initial reaction from the media firestorm was one of hope for Tiger - hope that he could finally address the demons within himself that destroyed his outwardly perfect family; hope that he could continue to give a reason to bring new eyes to a great sport every week; and hope that this incident would be a mere speed bump in his career.  Most of all, I hoped that that this would give Tiger (and his team) some perspective and finally force him to do something that he had never done - show us that he is human.

In his most human of moments, Tiger had an opportunity to open his entire being to the world.  Warts and all.  Not make us understand why he had these flaws, but make us feel something for him.  Prior to the fire hydrant, people felt admiration, awe, jealousy, hate or whatever else for Tiger the golfer.  He has been carefully presented as such since hitting balls with Bob Hope.  His handcrafted public image allowed no room for a human being, only a dominating golfer and a global brand.  In the early stages of his professional career, GQ presented a human Tiger and got all future access denied as a parting gift.  Since, we have only seen Tiger as he (and his team) wanted us to see Tiger.

At the most basic, this is precisely what communications professionals tell their clients what they will provide - the good.  As Accenture used to say, "Be a Tiger."  

However, Tiger's fall showed that no matter the narrative, bad is going to appear.  It may not be a spectacular fall complete with drug allegations, domestic abuse, the National Enquirer, and a broken back window, but it will seem equally as disastrous from your eyes.

Many companies focus on the after.  Certainly, the "after" is important to minimize the damage.  But, companies should routinely look at their brand in the marketplace and design their crisis preparedness to strengthen that brand.  That is not to say that Tiger's problems would have been avoided.  Tiger built an image that presupposed that he would never fail.  If he had properly built some room in his image to fail, his comeback would find more people cheering for redemption, rather than a collection of rubberneckers waiting for the next fire hydrant.


Staying True to Your Message Strength

Written by Judd Pritchard   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 01:59

After watching Game Change this past weekend, an old lesson of corporate communications came through in the political decision to choose Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential nominee to John McCain. The movie, although controversial in its portrayal of Palin, shows a clear effort by the McCain campaign to make a "game change" pick. Senator Obama was building a base through charisma, historical context and social media that McCain could simply not match. Choosing a running mate from the multitude of "thought abouts" would not slow down the "Hope and Change" Express. Enter Governor Palin.
While Palin did indeed shake up the race, she was not a mere outside the box choice – she redefined the entire campaign. On one hand, McCain finally had a dynamic presence that could match the charisma of Obama. On the other hand, in their zeal to match Obama's personality, McCain removed his differentiating edge – experience.

Read more... [Staying True to Your Message Strength]

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