Communications Enforcement & Compliance
Wiley Rein provides services to companies that are the subject of investigation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), law enforcement agencies, and Congress. Whether an enforcement action is an ongoing reality, a looming threat, or just a distant possibility, Wiley Rein can help.
Wiley Rein has in-house expertise on every major regulatory initiative by the FCC, as well as a team of attorneys who can match the aggressiveness of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. Our team provides clients with a unique combination of talent—an unrivaled substantive understanding of the FCC’s rules and policies and an exceptional investigative and litigation capability—to respond efficiently and effectively to any enforcement action.
Representative experience includes:
- Secured a favorable decision on behalf of a wireless carrier that resulted in the FCC Enforcement Bureau terminating a forfeiture order issued against the carrier for its alleged failure to provide the FCC with certain information in connection with a spectrum auction.
- Defended several Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) operators in cases of first impression alleging that their use of FCC-authorized network management equipment violated Section 333 of the Communications Act. In two cases, the firm was instrumental in negotiating consent decrees involving payments that were a fraction of the Enforcement Bureau’s proposed forfeiture and contained no admission of liability. In a third case, the firm is challenging a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) issued against a WLAN operator.
- Advising a client in connection with a large E-rate enforcement matter involving alleged violations of the FCC’s competitive bidding rules. The firm prepared comprehensive legal arguments to counter the Enforcement Bureau’s theories in the case, and the Enforcement Bureau has yet to take any enforcement action against the client.
- Represented a client in a Lifeline investigation currently being conducted by the FCC Inspector General (IG). The firm assisted the client in providing documents responsive to the IG’s subpoena and in negotiating limits on overbroad information requests from the IG.
- Representing a wireless carrier in a Section 208 complaint proceeding challenging the justness and reasonableness of rates charged by a submarine cable operator.
- Successfully defended a television broadcaster facing potential multimillion-dollar liability for the broadcast of allegedly indecent programming, negotiating a settlement that avoided an NAL and a settlement amount that was approximately one-tenth of the amount initially proposed.
- Obtained dismissal of an investigation against a radio broadcaster involving alleged violations of the FCC’s sponsorship identification requirements stemming from talk radio program episodes that spanned more than a year.
- Successfully represented several clients in favorable resolutions of FCC investigations alleging misuse of Emergency Alert System (EAS) tones. Currently representing clients in other investigations regarding alleged misuse of EAS tones, preparing comprehensive responses to letters of inquiry on which the Enforcement Bureau has yet to take any action.
- Represented a television broadcaster in connection with an investigation concerning the FCC’s prohibition on joint retransmission consent negotiations, achieving a favorable settlement.
- Successfully represented radio broadcasters in investigations concerning alleged violations of the FCC’s indecency, sponsorship identification rules, and rules concerning unauthorized transfers of control, negotiating favorable settlements.
- Represented a wireless provider on issues of handset unlockability and unlimited data plans, negotiating a resolution that avoided an NAL and did not require a fine or admission of liability.
- Successfully represented online payment service that had revised its user agreement to include terms the Enforcement Bureau viewed as violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Shortly after receipt of a letter from the FCC expressing “serious concerns,” the firm helped the client conduct an internal review of its marketing operations, suggested modifications to the user agreement to address the FCC’s concerns, and persuaded the Enforcement Bureau not to issue a Letter of Inquiry.
Beyond the FCC, Wiley Rein can handle investigations and enforcement actions by any of the following:
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Our FTC Regulation Practice has represented a number of companies in investigations of alleged unfair and deceptive trade practices and TCPA violations. In one recent matter, we negotiated a favorable settlement for a wireless provider alleged to have misled consumers regarding “unlimited data,” avoiding litigation and resolving parallel class action allegations. Please visit our FTC Regulation Practice page to learn more.
- U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ): With a team of former prosecutors, our White Collar Defense and Government Investigations Practice handles the full range of civil and criminal investigations, including matters involving the False Claims Act (FCA) and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In FCA investigations, we have convinced the DOJ to decline to intervene and persuaded qui tam relators to drop cases without a settlement. When one high-stakes FCA case proceeded to court, we won a motion to transfer to the client’s home jurisdiction and multiple sanctions awards for discovery violations by the DOJ, ultimately forcing the government to settle its case for about 2% of its original claim. Please visit our White Collar Defense and Government Investigations Practice page to learn more.
- National security agencies: We have regularly assisted clients in responding to inquiries and investigations related to national security issues arising under, for example, Network Security Agreements and Team Telecom reviews. We also have helped companies handle reviews and investigations related to facility security clearances. Please visit our CFIUS and National Security Practice page to learn more.
- Congress: Our lawyers have worked for some of the principal investigatory committees of the House and Senate, and have handled a number of high-profile congressional investigations. We regularly help clients interact with Congress as they manage parallel investigations by regulatory agencies. In one recent matter, we represented the lead software developer in an investigation of the failures of healthcare.gov. We worked with Committee staff to minimize the number of testimony obligations, reduced the scope of document requests, and ultimately turned the attention of the Committee away from the client and onto the government agency managing the contract. Please visit our Congressional Investigations & Criminal Defense Practice page to learn more.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): We have helped companies address EPA and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight of handling and transportation of regulated and hazardous materials, including batteries. Please visit our Environment & Safety Practice page to learn more.
News & Insights
News & Insights
- July 9, 2018 | Press Release
- January 24, 2017 | Media MentionInside Radio
- January 10, 2017 | AlertFCC Clarifies Political File Rules; Admonishes 10 Stations and Warns All Licensees of Potential Enforcement Actions
- September 23, 2016 | Press Release
- August 22, 2016 | Press ReleaseWiley Rein’s David Gross to Moderate ‘Global Digital Policy’ Discussion at Technology Policy Institute’s 2016 Aspen Forum
- August 2, 2016 | Press ReleaseWiley Rein Participates in First-Ever White House OSTP Workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation
- April 15, 2016 | Press Release
- April 14, 2016 | Press Release
- March 25, 2016 | ArticleLos Angeles Daily Journal
- March 3, 2016 | Press Release
- February 5, 2016 | Media MentionBloomberg BNA’s Daily Report for Executives
- December 9, 2015 | Press Release
- December 4, 2015 | Media MentionLaw360
- December 1, 2015 | Press ReleaseWiley Rein’s Scott Delacourt to Co-Chair PLI’s 33rd Annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy & Regulation Conference in DC, December 3-4
- November 19, 2015 | Media MentionLaw360
- November 6, 2015 | Press ReleaseWiley Rein Files Amicus Brief in First Amendment Trademark Case, Pro-Football, Inc. v. Amanda Blackhorse
- October 22, 2015 | Washington, DC | EventU.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Law Reform Panel
- September 21, 2015 | Media MentionLaw360
- August 28, 2015 | ArticleEngage: The Journal of the Federalist Society Practice Groups
- May 19, 2015 | Phoenix, AZ | EventThe View from Washington: Hot Topics at the FCC and the View on Media Issues from Capitol HillMedia Financial Focus 2015
- May 5, 2015 | Press Release
- March 29, 2015 | Press Release
- October 27, 2014 | Article
- October 20, 2014 | Washington, DC | EventTCPA Class Action Claims: What is Happening and Where are They Going?FCBA's FCC Enforcement Committee CLE
- July 23, 2014 | Media MentionForbes
- May 13, 2014 | Press Release
- April 29, 2014 | Media MentionC-SPAN, Communications Daily
- April 4, 2014 | ArticleBloomberg BNA's White Collar Crime Report
- March 14, 2014 | Media MentionJoshua Turner Weighs in on Continued FAA Commercial Drone Ban; Path Needed to Allow Safe and Responsible UseLaw360
- February 14, 2014 | Press Release
- February 3, 2014 | ArticleBloomberg BNA's Telecommunications Law Resource Center
- January 24, 2014 | Media MentionCommunications Daily, Broadcasting & Cable
- January 10, 2014 | Media MentionInside Radio
- December 11, 2013 | Washington, DC | EventFederal Communications Bar Association CLE Program
- December 9, 2013 | Press Release