- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 2, 2002

The D.C. Council is moving closer to adopting legislation that prohibits local television and radio stations from using "noncompete" clauses in labor contracts, but some workers want to expand the bill's scope.
Stations use the clauses to prevent anchors, reporters, weather forecasters, disc jockeys and some behind-the-scenes staffers from leaving to immediately go to work for a competitor. The clauses force the employee to wait often for one year before they can accept another job offer.
The legislation would keep television and radio stations in the District from using such tactics. Some supporters also want the council to stop companies that do business with the stations such as traffic news provider Metro Networks Inc. from using noncompetes.
D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat and the bill's chief sponsor, said he will consider that request when council members meet next week to discuss the legislation.
"We're certainly going to take a look at it," he said.
At a hearing on the bill last week, Julie Wright, a Metro employee who delivers traffic updates on WTTG-TV (Channel 5) and several radio stations, told the council that a noncompete clause cost her a better-paying job two years ago.
Ms. Wright said ABC-owned WRQX-FM (107.3) wanted to hire her as a traffic reporter but that she couldn't take the job because her contract with Metro includes a one-year noncompete clause.
At the time, Ms. Wright said Metro was paying her $35,000 a year. WRQX was willing to pay her $50,000 to $53,000 annually, she said.
"The offer would have allowed me to advance in my career and would have been a dream come true," she told the council members.
A Metro spokesman declined to comment.
Media companies are urging the council to reject the legislation, saying the clauses discourage competitors from stealing the on-air talent they spend big bucks to train and promote.
That seems unlikely: Eight of the 13 D.C. Council members have already signed onto the bill as sponsors.
Eight join Silver Circle
The local chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences said yesterday that it will induct eight broadcasting bigwigs into its prestigious Silver Circle.
The chapter established the award in 1987 to honor men and women who have worked in broadcasting for 25 years or more and made "significant contributions" to the business.
This year's honorees are: WTTG photographer John Dunmire, local advertising executive Charles Horich, retired WUSA-TV (Channel 9) newsroom assistant James Jennings, "Today" production manager Lessandra MacHamer, retired WHRO-TV (Channel 15) general manager James Morison, WDCA-TV (Channel 20) engineer Lee Payton, "Dateline NBC" reporter Lea Thompson and WJZ-TV (Channel 13) weatherman Robert Turk.
They will each be honored at a ceremony Nov. 23.
Don't sit there
The refurbished Tastee Diner in Bethesda reopened this week with a silver plaque over one booth proclaiming "Reserved for WTOP Radio."
Owner Gene Wilkes said he decided to set the booth aside for the all-news station (1500 AM and 107.7 FM) because so many WTOP reporters hang out there to do "man on the street" interviews.
Mr. Wilkes has even installed a telephone line at the booth and promised to "nicely" evict anyone sitting in it when WTOP reporters need the space.
Questions? Comments? Tips? Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send an e-mail to cbaker@washingtontimes.com.

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