Utah Just Helped Thousands of TV Journalists in a Major Way

Utah Just Helped Thousands of TV Journalists in a Major Way

Written by News Gal
🕒 April, 20 2018

Something interesting just happened in Utah, and if you work in TV news you’ll want to pay attention.

In March, Utah’s governor signed House Bill 241 into law. The bill makes it illegal for any Utah broadcasting outlet to have non-competes for employees making less than $47,500 a year. It also allows contracted employees, making more than $47,500 a year, to go to a competing station as soon as their contract expires.

In my opinion, this is huge.

Every contract I’ve signed in TV news has included a non-compete agreement. Each stated that I was not allowed to work at another station in the market for one year after the expiration of my contract.

Some of you might think this is no big deal, but it actually is.

Non-compete agreements mean if you love the city you’re in, but you’re unhappy with your current work situation, you either have to do something else for a year, leave the market, or suck it up and stay where you are.

Station management loves non-compete agreements. It means they won’t lose you to the competition, and it gives them control over your career.

I’ve been in situations where I would like to work at another station in my market, but I can’t afford to stay out of work for a year. I also don’t want to transition to another career, so I’ve usually just left the market and started over someplace else.

I have friends who work in markets that don’t have non-competes, and they’re able to switch stations for better money and better opportunities.

Their careers are thriving.

I also have friends who are miserable at their current stations, but would probably be happier at the station across the street, and the fact that they can’t just move to that station once their contract is up makes them even more bitter.

If you violate a non-compete agreement your current station ownership company will likely tell you they’re going to sue you and your new station. I know some people who have been taken to court.

I know more people who got away with it, because their company didn’t want to have to deal with a lawsuit and all the time and money that goes with it.

Breaking a non-compete agreement is a big risk, and most companies won’t hire you if they know it’s against your contractual agreement.

I understand why managers don’t want their talent to leave and go to another station in the market. They don’t want you to share secrets, and they don’t want to see someone they spent time and money on now working for their competition.

I totally understand why we have contracts. I understand that viewers want to become familiar with their newscasters, and if your team is changing every year it can make viewers uneasy.

I also understand that employers want a commitment from you when they hire you. What I don’t understand is why they should have any control over your life once you’ve completed your contract.

If employers were so worried you would leave if you’re unhappy, maybe they would treat their staff members better.

I hope more states will eventually follow Utah’s lead, and make non-compete agreements a thing of the past.

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