Francis William LeBeau is a governmental attorney who focuses on federal regulatory issues relating to media content and distribution as a member of Holland & Knight's Media, Communications and Entertainment Law practice groups in the firm's Washington, D.C., office.
Having served as in-house regulatory counsel to NBC Universal and Telemundo until Spring 2009, Mr. LeBeau is well-versed in representing television and radio stations, broadcast and nonbroadcast networks, national and local radio companies, and online programmers and distributors before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Mr. LeBeau has developed innovative and successful FCC solutions for parties in several major media transactions, including companies with television, cable, radio and online content and/or distribution assets. Mr. LeBeau also routinely advises clients in matters ranging from top-level policy advocacy, broadcast and cable ownership and transactions, programming, retransmission consent and other multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) and Internet Protocol television (IPTV) carriage negotiations. In addition, he provides counsel on regulatory compliance, including accessibility, program access, political advertising, indecency, children's programming, equal employment, product integration and other advertising issues.
Mr. LeBeau also advises clients in many other areas of federal regulation, including matters of program exclusivity and Satellite Home Viewer legislation, post-auction TV repacking requirements, FCC-related recordkeeping, network neutrality, use of spectrum, experimental and private radio licensing, and other online and emerging wireless video content issues.
As former in-house counsel, Mr. LeBeau has an in-depth understanding as to the practical issues these and similar matters present to companies seeking a reasonable approach to federal regulation, including:
Mr. LeBeau has represented a broad range of companies in seeking to persuade the FCC to improve government regulation. From major media companies and key trade associations to individual local stations and small cable networks, Mr. LeBeau has worked closely with regulators and other key players seeking to effect a more rational approach to media regulation. For example, Mr. LeBeau has developed the advocacy strategies of two major media and entertainment companies and one trade association with respect to FCC accessibility matters, which included comments and appearances at the FCC as well as waiver requests and Congressional outreach. In addition, Mr. LeBeau also has prepared witnesses and drafted testimony for Congressional or agency hearings in matters as diverse as local news coverage to satellite viewer legislation to national television ownership, and has participated in multiple task forces or advisory committees on behalf of various media clients.
For several years, Mr. LeBeau oversaw federal regulatory compliance for all aspects of NBC Universal and Telemundo, including multiple English and Spanish language broadcast networks and stations, more than a dozen cable networks and many new online sites. For these dozens of outlets, Mr. LeBeau supervised critical day-to-day regulatory issues, such as pharmaceutical advertising, gaming advertising, product integration and sponsorship identification, and political and children's programming, including the successful reversal of a 40-year-old agency precedent regarding political appearances on "The Tonight Show." Mr. LeBeau also has developed extensive compliance plans and training regimes for these media outlets, which minimized the risk of equal employment, captioning, sponsorship ID and other violations, and has handled countless broadcast, cable, satellite and wireless applications, including renewal and technical applications.
Since his time at NBC Universal, Mr. LeBeau has continued to advise networks and stations as to essential FCC requirements. He has assisted multiple clients with FCC enforcement or accessibility inquiries, including responding to a number of complaints on matters ranging from captioning quality to outdated equipment authorizations. Mr. LeBeau also has represented a number of companies needing non-broadcast licenses or non-broadcast compliance advice, including satellite earth station and business radio licenses, as well as equipment authorizations. Educated as an engineer, Mr. LeBeau has a deep understanding of the technical and operational issues faced by companies seeking to comply with federal spectrum, equipment, and licensing regulation, including improved digital broadcast facilities and ATSC 3.0.
Mr. LeBeau has advised dozens of major clients in acquiring or selling television and radio stations, nonbroadcast networks, nonbroadcast FCC authorizations, including the successful acquisition of Universal Studios by NBC, as well as other transactions involving significant regulatory issues, including ownership rule waivers and foreign ownership concerns. Mr. LeBeau has actively participated in auctions, has developed channel sharing or similar arrangements and has successfully settled mutually exclusive claims on behalf of a number of clients. Mr. LeBeau also has negotiated on behalf of broadcast and cable companies in many other contexts, including retransmission consent and carriage deals, affiliation relationships, territorial exclusivity issues, and news-sharing and other innovative arrangements. For multifaceted investors interested in media companies but whose other investments may complicate media investments, Mr. LeBeau has developed flexible and forward-looking compliance strategies.
Mr. LeBeau has responded to dozens of inquiries from federal agencies relating to the content or operations of broadcast, cable or Internet outlets as well as questions relating to equipment authorizations and other matters of FCC enforcement. Mr. LeBeau works with his clients to develop a comprehensive strategy that includes the outlet, the program provider, the regulator, and other stakeholders, in order to resolve such inquiries or complaints with minimum adverse impact on the client.
Mr. LeBeau has led or participated in a number of forums on media issues, including his role as moderator, organizer and occasional "game-show" host for the ABA/FCBA "Representing Your Local Broadcaster," as well as other industry and legal events. He began his legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable David B. Sentelle, Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.
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