Francis William LeBeau is a governmental attorney in Holland & Knight's Washington, D.C., office and a member of the firm's Communications Team and Media Practice Team. Mr. LeBeau focuses on federal regulatory issues relating to broadcast and other media, as well as transactions involving all manner of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorizations, among other federal communications matters.
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 non-broadcast networks, national and local radio companies, and online programmers and distributors before the FCC. He also has in-depth knowledge of FCC matters affecting non-broadcast networks, having served as a leading non-broadcast programmer’s outside FCC counsel until its successful sale to a third party in 2018. 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.
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, as well as non-U.S. investors. He 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.
Outside of the media context, Mr. LeBeau has a wealth of experience with foreign investment and creditors' rights, having obtained, among other recent successes, an unprecedented exemption for a telecommunications entity with some foreign investment from Team Telecom procedures, as well as securing more extensive creditor rights with respect to FCC authorizations, including satellites and space stations. He also has handled all manner of FCC transactional issues, including Section 214 telecom, equipment, earth station and experimental authorizations.
In addition to his legal practice, Mr. LeBeau has led or participated in a number of forums on media issues, including a multi-year stint as moderator, organizer and occasional "game-show" host for the American Bar Association/ Federal Communications Bar Association (ABA/FCBA) "Representing Your Local Broadcaster," as well as other industry and legal events.
Mr. LeBeau 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.
- Represented a broad range of companies in seeking to persuade the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to improve government regulation
- Worked closely with regulators and other key players – from major media companies and key trade associations to individual local stations and small cable networks – seeking to effect a more rational approach to media regulation
- Developed advocacy strategies for two major media and entertainment companies with respect to a number of FCC issues, including online video distribution and accessibility, which included frequent comments and appearances at the FCC, waiver requests and Congressional outreach
- 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
- Participated in multiple task forces or advisory committees on behalf of various media clients
- 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
- Supervised critical day-to-day regulatory issues such as pharmaceutical advertising, gaming advertising, product integration, 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"
- Developed extensive compliance plans and training regimes for media outlets, which minimized the risk of equal employment, captioning, sponsorship ID and other violations
- Handled countless broadcast, cable, satellite and wireless applications, including renewal and technical applications
- Facilitated support of stations through a number of recent spectrum transitions, including incentive auctions and C-Band
- Advise networks and stations as to essential Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements
- 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
- 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
- Based on education as an engineer, offers 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
- Advised dozens of major clients in acquiring or selling television and radio stations, non-broadcast networks, non-broadcast Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorizations (including the successful acquisition of Universal Studios by NBC and the sale of Time Warner to AT&T), as well as other transactions involving significant regulatory issues, including ownership rule waivers and foreign investment concerns
- Participated in auctions, developed channel sharing or similar arrangements and successfully settled mutually exclusive claims on behalf of a number of clients
- 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
- Developed flexible and forward-looking compliance strategies for multifaceted investors interested in media companies but whose other investments may complicate media investments
- 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 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforcement
- Develops comprehensive strategies that includes the outlet, program provider, regulator and other stakeholders in order to resolve inquiries or complaints with minimum adverse impact on the client
- Harvard Law School, J.D., cum laude
- University of Virginia, B.S., Aerospace Engineering, with highest honors
- District of Columbia
- Federal Communications Bar Association