Helping Drive Transformation, Four Viacom Lawyers Are Among Cablefax’s Best

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The last year has been a busy one in Viacom’s ongoing transformation: new multi-year agreements with partners Altice USA and Charter, an expansive deal with superstar Tyler Perry, the acquisitions of influence marketing company WHOSAY and online video conference VidCon, and more.

To solidify these deals and to handle the panoply of other issues that Viacom deals with as a global entity seated at the nexus of entertainment and media, the company needs a strong and deeply experienced legal department. In an emphatic statement that Viacom’s team is more than capable of handling these challenges and more, Cablefax’s Top Lawyers 2018 included four members of the company’s department. You can view the full 2018 list here.

Top left: Viacom’s Kieth Murphy attends the Cablefax 2018 Top Lawyers Dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.; all photos courtesy of Cablefax.

“This year’s list of Cablefax’s Top Lawyers excel in all of these areas and more, guiding their companies through the rules of law amidst all the changes in the media landscape,” Cablefax explained. The publication honored this year’s class at its annual Top Lawyers Dinner, held this year at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Here’s a closer look at what each of these Viacom legal stars has been doing over the past year to earn their accolades:

Christa D’Alimonte

Viacom EVP, General Counsel and Secretary

D’Alimonte provided leadership and counsel in connection with a variety of transactions, including those with Altice USA, Charter, Tyler Perry, WHOSAY and VidCon. “We are focused on ensuring that Viacom continues to accelerate its transformation for the future in these changing times,” D’Alimonte told Cablefax.

Rick Baker

Viacom Senior Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, Distribution

Baker was vital to the major distribution deals with Altice and Charter, each of which also featured separate advanced advertising and data agreements. “I’m focused on guiding our legal strategy to keep us at the cutting edge of the TV content ecosystem as we strengthen and expand our distribution relationships through new creative solutions and innovative partnerships,” Baker told Cablefax.

DeDe Lea

Viacom Executive Vice President, Global Government Affairs

Lea deals extensively with the swath of regulatory and public policy issues that a global company of Viacom’s size naturally encounters, expertise that proved especially valuable in the company’s 2016 acquisition of Argentinian broadcaster Telefe. “One global issue that remains critically important to Viacom and our industry is the advancement of laws that protect content creators and consumers alike,” Lea told Cablefax.

Keith Murphy

Viacom Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Regulatory

Murphy, whose expertise in the consolidation of the media industry proved indispensable in the Telefe acquisition, focuses on regulatory law in communications and media. “I think the dominant legal issue in media has been the role of antitrust as our industry changes and consolidates,” Murphy told Cablefax.

Lawyers Alliance Honors Viacom Law Department for Pro Bono Efforts

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Thousands of Viacom employees recently spread out across the world to clean, paint, plant and sand the nonprofit organizations at the heart of their communities. The mass effort was part of the 21st Viacommunity Day, an annual outpouring of goodwill that underscores the company’s commitment to social responsibility. But while many employees were flexing unfamiliar muscles that day, a group of company lawyers stationed on the 31st floor of the company’s Times Square headquarters unsheathed their legal skills to staff an intake clinic for foreign citizens beginning the U.S. naturalization process.

It was a moving scene – people with few resources, intimidated by language and cultural barriers, comprehending for the first time that they could move toward citizenship – but not at all unusual for Viacom’s Law team, which devotes considerable resources to pro bono work each year.

Because of this deep commitment to helping those in need, Viacom Law earned a spot as a distinguished honoree at the Lawyers Alliance for New York’s 2017 Business Law & Leadership Gala. The annual event – held this year at Manhattan’s Gotham Hall – honors businesses and individuals committed to improving New York City by offering pro bono services to nonprofit organizations.

“The Viacom Law Department is a leader in the corporate pro bono bar,” Lawyers Alliance noted in their press release announcing the gala. “Under Christa D’Alimonte, Viacom’s Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, the Viacom Law Department continues to make pro bono legal services a priority for its attorneys.”

D’Alimonte stressed the importance of pro bono work to Viacom in general and to the Law team in particular. “The Law Department’s commitment to pro bono work is fundamental to our culture and core values, and reflects Viacom’s commitment to contribute to the communities in which we work and live,” she said.

Lawyers possess a specialized and highly valued skillset, one that is essential for the proper functioning of society but is often opaque and inaccessible to those who need it the most. “We know that now, perhaps more than ever, our legal skills can be used to help those in need who cannot afford the costs of legal representation – which is a right that should be available to all, and not a privilege reserved for some,” said D’Alimonte.

The legal team works throughout the year to extend this right, collaborating with organizations serving low-income individuals and communities in need. The company has a particularly strong relationship with Lawyers Alliance, partnering with them on legal clinics in each of the past five years. Working through the organization, Viacom connects with nonprofits that need counseling to navigate new state legal requirements or to handle bylaw and governance issues. A recent series of pro bono legal clinics gathered attorneys from Viacom and other in-house legal departments to train nonprofits on waiver and release reviews.

That the Law Department can spare the resources for pro bono work is a reflection of the team’s overall strength. Last year, Corporate Counsel, a leading source of legal news, named Viacom to its list of best corporate legal departments.

Viacom Legal Lands on Corporate Counsel’s Best Legal Departments List

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

​Viacom is a lot of things. Anthropomorphic sponges. Celebrities rocking on stage in a lip-sync duel. Talking upright turtles roaring through sewers wielding katana blades and nunchuks.

Another thing it is: home to a top-flight legal team, which is essential in bringing all this entertainment to your televisions and movie screens and smartphones all over the world. This is the group that (among many other things) manages talent contracts, protects the company’s intellectual property, and makes sure employees and brands and properties comply with a tangle of laws across more than 160 countries. This team is so good at doing all of these things that Corporate Counsel recently selected the department as one of only four on its best legal departments of 2016 list.

“It’s a great booster to us to be recognized this way,” says General Counsel Michael Fricklas. “We have a team that’s really passionate about seeing the company be successful.”

Read More