When a broadcaster decides to leave or is pushed out of a job at a radio or television station, they are frequently forced to stay on the sidelines for months or move to another city if they want to keep working in their chosen profession.
That’s because they are bound by noncompete provisions in their contracts that prevent them from working at outlets in the same market. On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Senate Labor and Industry Committee held a public hearing with broadcast personalities and officials with radio and television stations on whether those non-compete provisions should be eliminated in Pennsylvania.
State Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Carroll Township, has introduced a bill that would do away with those provisions, and she noted in the hearing that other states, including New York, California, Arizona and Washington state, have done so. Bartolotta and other proponents of eliminating noncompete provisions for broadcasters say it would enhance their employment and salary opportunities and allow them to stay in a market if they like living there.
Opponents argue that radio and TV stations invest money and time into developing talent, and should be allowed to protect it, and familiar faces and voices are how broadcast outlets build audiences.
Testifying in favor of the legislation, Kerri Wood Einertson, national legislative director for the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), explained, “Our presumption is employees should be able to market their own labor.”
Sam Clover, a traffic reporter for KYW-AM in Philadelphia, said broadcast personalities “have special skills, and they should be allowed to compete based on those skills. That is the American way.”
Speaking in opposition to the proposal, Ezio Torres, general manager for Radio 1 and Urban 1 in Philadelphia, said the noncompete clauses protect employers who would potentially see employees be snatched away by competitors.
“The talent shouldn’t be poached,” Torres said.
Bartolotta introduced a similar bill in the Senate’s last session. Her daughter, Devin Bartolotta, is a reporter and anchor at a television station in New Orleans.