Two years ago, more than 80 people working in the broadcast industry signed a letter to the General Assembly asking for support of legislation to end the practice of using non-compete clauses for broadcast personnel. The letter included a who’s who of on-air talent, including anchors, reporters, and meteorologists from every major local TV station.
The letter was signed by radio legend Milton Metz and 83 others. It included on-air talent from across the state, and I counted 37 on the list who are still working in Louisville.
The bill died in a committee, and with it, so did the effort to outlaw the practice, though several other states have had laws passed to get rid of them. I wrote about the issue in this week’s LEO.
It’s a national issue. TV Spy, an industry media source, surveyed its readership, asking if non-competes should be abolished by legislation. 73 percent of 500 respondents said yes. Another industry group, the RTNDA (Radio-TV News Directors Association), surveyed its membership last year and found that 90 percent of newsroom personnel, including non on-air staff, have non-competes in their contracts.
In doing the reporting, I learned the issue brings out plenty of emotion, and fear. For instance, I was motivated to do the story when reporter Bill Alexander moved from WLKY to WDRB over the course of a weekend, obviously showing that non-competes aren’t universally enforced. Yet when I got Alexander on the phone Saturday in the Fox 41 newsroom, he said he had to run, but would call back in 10 minutes. I’m still waiting. No one in the WLKY newsroom would call me back on the topic either.
Sean Bartel, Kerri Richardson, Tony Hyatt and more after the jump…