Kaplan spent 2017 helping the FCC modernize its media ownership rules, advocating to the FCC to allow broadcasters to voluntarily transition to the Next Gen TV standard and seeking fair music licensing rates for radio stations. “This has been a very busy year for broadcasters on all fronts,” he says. Kaplan has the dual role of representing NAB before federal agencies and supervising of all of NAB’s legal affairs. His background uniquely prepares him for the roles, having served at the FCC in the Wireless Communications Bureau, and as an appellate law clerk.
What have been the most important legal issues in communications for you in the past year?
This has been a very busy year for broadcasters on all fronts. Most notably, we worked hard to help the FCC modernize its media ownership rules, which had unfairly handcuffed broadcasters for decades. We also successfully advocated for the FCC to allow broadcasters to voluntarily transition to Next Gen TV, which will allow consumers to receive the highest quality picture and many other services free and over-the-air. On the radio side, music licensing is always among our highest priorities. For radio stations to compete in today’s digital age, they have to have common-sense predictable rates when they license music. This battle is fought on many fronts, including in Congress, the Department of Justice, and the Copyright Royalty Board.
What is your golden rule for negotiating?
Golden rule for negotiating. It is critical to have credibility when negotiating on any issue. The other side has to know you can follow through on your end. Without that, there is no trust and negotiations tend to flounder. In addition, it’s critical to try to understand what the other party is truly looking for. Often there is a sweet spot where both sides can achieve something that makes sense, even if it isn’t exactly what they wanted at the start.
If you could be remembered for just one case, which case would that be and why?
My favorite case was Committee on the Judiciary v. Harriet Miers. While working in the General Counsel’s office in the U.S. House of Representatives I helped lead our lawsuit against the White House on behalf of the House Judiciary Committee to obtain testimony and documents related to U.S. Attorney firings. It was a landmark constitutional case which helped define the power of Congress to investigate the Executive Branch.