On-Air Talent Agreement
Work for pay: This is a provision that is not new in the world of contracts, but appears more frequently in broadcasting contracts. This stems from the concept that when you create something, you usually own the copyright to that something. Increasingly, broadcast contracts include those terms under which you agree that everything you create in your employment belongs to the company (not you). For example, if you find a good franchise idea while working? It belongs to the station. What if you are a journalist who has created a personal blog? According to the express language of this provision (and if you created and contributed to your blog in your own time), this blog can only be the intellectual property of the broadcaster. Thus, your news anchor or morning host is very popular in the market and his employment contract is about to expire. Her competitors would like her to join her team and are willing to pay her more. If you renegotiate your contract, you should include a non-competition clause, right? Maybe not. A number of states, including New York, Massachusetts and California, have passed laws limiting the ability of broadcasting employers to enter into non-compete clauses that prevent their employees from working for competition. Reassignment: This is an area where new journalists should be sensitive. It is very, very common for employers to reserve the right to reassign you.
As mentioned above, this makes sense from a management perspective. If I hire you as a journalist and it`s only after I hire that I discover that you can`t write or go through a live recording without tripping over yourself, why should I be contractually obligated to keep you on air? You can understand this logic. The problem is that it has led to language that gives employers a very lot of leeway to reassign people. Executive producers are reassigned to produce nightly programs. Anchors become one-man bands. Horror stories about reassignment abound. Such provisions generally require you to «perform other duties, including but not limited to production, photography/videography, editing, writing, reporting, order management, as well as other newsroom duties that may be identified by the employer in the sole and absolute discretion of the employer.» This almost always appears in a broadcasting contract in one form or another. While there are various legal theories that could support a claim based on an oral promise, you should know that when you sign an employment contract, you accept the language contained in all four corners of the agreement, and NOT with the verbal promises made to you by the news director. «Outs»: These usually never appear in a first offer, but are often available on request.
The concept is that you are bound by the contract in its current form, unless a specific event occurs that would allow you to withdraw without breach. If you find that the potential employer is not accepting a salary or lump sum damages, you may want to consider requesting that one of these «outs» in narrow terms be added to your agreement. An example of «out» wording is as follows: «The Station agrees that at any time during this Agreement, if the Employee receives a written offer of full-time employment from a television station located in one of the fifty (50) largest television markets in the United States. that does not compete with the station, allows the employee to be released in writing from his or her obligation to work at the station with sixty (60) days` notice. «Stations can give them an `out` if it`s narrow enough and suitable for you and doesn`t put them in a position to set an opaque precedent. Here you have to be creative. Market failures, like the one I described above, are common. Imagine that your potential employer will not agree to give you a top 50 deal. Maybe if you explain that there is a certain market where your family is located, the employer will let you out in case you receive an offer there. Maybe you can convince the employer to give you a way out if your spouse is relocated professionally, or if your mother`s hypothetical illness worsens, or if you receive an offer from an East Coast employer, or if you leave the company. .