At the beginning of 2021, Chris Imlay, CBT, SBE general counsel, announced that he would step down from that position. He served as the SBE general counsel since 1993, and has worked with the SBE since 1980. Imlay’s legal career began in 1975, and he began practicing communications law in 1979 when he joined the firm Booth and Freret.
During 2021, then SBE President Wayne M. Pecena, CPBE, 8-VSB, AMD, ATSC3, DRB, CBNE, led an ad hoc search committee, which included then Vice President Andy Cummis, CBT, CTO, SBE Executive Director Jim Ragsdale, and SBE Frequency Coordination Manager RJ Russell, CPBE, ATSC3. In October 2021, two additional committee members were added: Robert Weller and Jim Leifer, CPBE, who is also a past president of the SBE. Several candidates were considered, and the committee presented its selections to the SBE Board of Directors at a meeting held in December 2021.
The firm of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP (Brooks Pierce) is a law firm that serves businesses, government, non-profit institutions, trade associations and individuals. Two partners with the firm, Stephen Hartzell and Coe W. Ramsey, will work with the SBE on its regulatory needs. They both are experienced with broadcast technical regulatory issues, and Broadcast Auxiliary Services in particular, and they have worked with state broadcast associations.
As an FCC and communications lawyer, Stephen Hartzell advises broadcasters and other FCC-regulated businesses on a host of compliance matters, and he routinely provides all the same services as his colleagues who practice at DC-based communications firms. He maintains productive relationships with members of the FCC staff. His practice focuses on providing operational advice, including FCC licensing, enforcement issues, EAS, political programming, sponsorship identification/payola, the FCC’s EEO rules, broadcast station ownership, closed captioning and other accessibility issues, children’s television programming, and indecency and other programming content issues.
Coe Ramsey’s communications and media practice focuses on FCC regulatory, transactional, corporate and intellectual property (copyright and trademark) matters. Coe represents radio and television operators throughout the country, counseling and advocating on a variety of issues, including buying and selling radio and television stations, FCC ownership rules and policies, ATSC 3.0, digital broadcasting, and other new technology deployments, broadcast licensing and renewals, programming issues, cable and satellite carriage, political advertising, and music licensing. Coe also works with programming networks and new media companies, including national networks, Internet broadcasters, OTT and other digital programming networks and platforms, and app developers, and assists them on a variety of issues, including content acquisition and protection, distribution, licensing, privacy, terms and conditions, and advertising and promotions.
On the appointment, Chris Imlay said, “I am extremely pleased, and very comfortable with the Board’s choice of Stephen and Coe in particular, and the Brooks, Pierce law firm generally, as regulatory counsel for the SBE. In my experience, these able lawyers are well-positioned to work with the SBE Board to advocate for our members at the FCC, the NTIA and on Capitol Hill, especially in the area of spectrum protection. I have promised to be available to consult with them on current open issues and going forward to the extent they would like, and I will help Jim Ragsdale and the SBE’s Indiana counsel with non-FCC legal issues going forward, as a volunteer. The SBE is in good hands indeed.”
SBE President Andrea Cummis, CBT, CTO, said, “The SBE has benefitted from outstanding legal counsel with Chris Imlay for many years. I look forward to continuing that service with Stephen and Coe. The SBE will further benefit from having two outstanding advisers on regulatory issues.”