Jackson Walker partners Paul Watler and Stacy Allen prepared an update for the Newsroom Legal Guide published by the Texas Association of Broadcasters (TAB). First published in 2012, the guide covers legal principles and considerations affecting Texas broadcasters in gathering and reporting the news.
Formed in 1953 and headquartered in Austin since 1999, the Texas Association of Broadcasters promotes and protects a favorable economic and regulatory climate for broadcasting and educates both members and the general public. TAB lobbies for state and national legislation to increase media access to records and meetings, minimize sales tax for broadcasting tools, and reduce regulation of broadcast stations.
The updated Newsroom Legal Guide details several laws that TAB has advocated for in the Texas Legislature for the past 20 years, including:
- Texas Free Flow of Information Act (reporter shield law)
- Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA) (anti-SLAPP litigation law)
- Uniform Corrections/Retractions Statute
- Libel law regarding reporting of third-party allegations
- Texas Public Information Act (TPIA)
- Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA)
In addition, the guide covers how Texas’ libel and privacy laws impact newsgathering. It also examines new areas of concern for Texas newsrooms, including the use of social media and station websites for newsgathering and reporting, the use of drones to gather images and videos, and newer FCC regulations that could impact news coverage.
Other chapters discuss trial coverage and reporting on the Texas court system, crime and law enforcement reporting, education and school coverage issues, reporting on health care issues and specific patients, investigative reporting, and political reporting and legislative coverage.
The TAB Newsroom Legal Guide can be found on the “Member Services” tab on the TAB main page. Station staff will need to login to view the “Legal Guides/Hotline” page.
Recent Insights—Texas Laws Impacting Newsgathering:
Meet Our Team
Paul C. Watler is a board-certified civil trial lawyer who is widely recognized for “Bet-the-Company” cases, commercial litigation, First Amendment, and media law. He has successfully represented numerous newspapers, television stations, media companies, websites, and journalists in libel, anti-SLAPP (Texas Citizens Participation Act), public information, invasion of privacy, copyright, news gathering, and commercial lawsuits. Throughout his career, Paul has held leadership positions on the Dallas Bar Association Media Relations Committee, The University of Texas at Austin – Moody College of Communication Advisory Council, the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas Board, and the North Texas Public Broadcasting (KERA) Board.
In over 30 years of litigating complex state and federal cases across the country, Stacy Allen’s aggressive approach to discovery and trial preparation has resulted in favorable judgments and settlements for commercial clients. His national practice concentrates on intellectual property litigation, defense of federal and state class actions against insurers, defense of media companies and news organizations against defamation and privacy tort claims, defense of managed care companies in claims arising from complex provider contracts, and other commercial lawsuits and arbitrations alleging breach of contract, unfair trade practices, fraud, and other business torts. Stacy serves on of the Media Law Resource Center Committee and the TAB Newsroom Legislative Committee.
Jackson Walker’s service to Texas broadcasters dates to the earliest days of the industry. In fact, the firm representing pioneer television broadcaster KRLD-TV of Dallas when its signal first went on air in 1949. Today in the internet-centric era of broadcasting, the firm remains at the cutting edge of legal issues for Texas broadcasters. With more than 115 years of experience in media law, the firm handles litigation and transactional matters involving news content, employment, entertainment, intellectual property, advertising, and other related matters. To learn more about Jackson Walker’s century-long dedication to local and regional broadcasters and news organizations, visit our Media Law page.