Paycheck Protection Program & Disaster Relief Loan Information Released (Updated)

Following up on our post yesterday (US Chamber of Commerce Issues Coronavirus Small Business Guide), you can find the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Information Sheet for Lenders and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Application Form (and accompanying instructions) just released by the US Small Business Administration.

The SBA has established a streamlined process for disaster loan assistance that you can access online at COVID-19 ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN APPLICATION.

As noted previously, the lawyers at Rimon Law are following these developments closely and while you may already be deluged with summaries, information bulletins and alerts, we are and remain available to help any time across a broad spectrum of businesses, industries, relationships, activities and transactions that have been affected by the COVID-119 pandemic.

 

US Chamber of Commerce Issues Coronavirus Small Business Guide

Part of the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is designed to help small businesses keep workers employed during this pandemic crisis and the consequential stress facing the economy. In fact, the CARES Act has allocated $350 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, an initiative that will provide loans to small businesses that are 100% guaranteed by the Federal government.
The United States Chamber of Commerce has issued a guide to help small businesses understand who is eligible, in what amounts these loans will be available and what criteria will determine whether the loans will be forgiven. You can read the summary right here: Corona Virus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide & Checklist.
As always, I and all of the legal professionals at Rimon continue to remain available to assist during these challenging times.

IRS Issues Coronavirus Tax Relief Guidance

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has set up a special Coronavirus Tax Relief section on its website, in order to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by COVID-19 obtain information regarding their tax and filing obligations, all of which have been affected by the pandemic.

While there is no information as of now regarding details of any stimulus or relief package, there is valuable information describing some temporary adjustments and suspensions of certain compliance programs, details of the Treasury’s extension of the deadlines for filing and federal tax payments to July 15, 2020 and a number of other releases providing tax-related guidance as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

IRS will update the information as it becomes available, so check back frequently as developments unfold.

The legal professionals at Rimon are available to help and as always, if we can’t help you – especially in these challenging times – we will assist you in finding someone who can!  Stay safe and following the recommendations of your national, state, provincial and local authorities to keep yourself, your family, colleagues and friends healthy and prevent the spread of this infection.

US Dept. of Labor Issues FFCRA Guidance

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division released its initial guidance providing information describing how to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which takes effect April 1, 2020. The guidance includes links to information for employees and employers, as well as links to questions and answers and other useful information about the FFCRA.  The DOL has a separate Coronavirus Resources webpage, providing a large number of references and links to additional information.

The US DOL has also released an FFCRA Poster that every covered employer must post in a conspicuous place on its premises, although the guidance does allow an employer to satisfy this requirement by emailing or directly mailing the notice to employees or by posting the notice on an employee information internal or external website.  Although there is no legal requirement at this time to post the notice in other languages, DOL is currently working on translating the notice.

The legal professionals at Rimon are available to help and as always, if we can’t help you – especially in these challenging times – we will assist you in finding someone who can!  Stay safe and following the recommendations of your national, state, provincial and local authorities to keep yourself, your family, colleagues and friends healthy and prevent the spread of this infection.

25th Anniversary Edition: Best of the Best USA Expert Guide

I am honored at having been notified I will be listed in the 2019 Best of the Best USA Expert Guide, as one of the Top 30 Media Practitioners in the USA.

Over the course of a quarter of a century, Euromoney’s Legal Media Group has researched the world’s legal markets. Based on extensive review, with legal peers and in-house counsel, they identify the world’s leading lawyers, advisers and legal practitioners.

Over these past 25 years, the Expert Guides have become a valuable reference tool and trusted resource for international buyers of legal services.

This is their 25th Anniversary Edition and although I have been listed in previous editions of the Guide to the World’s Leading Technology, Media and Telecommunications Lawyers, each time I receive such a notice, it reminds me of the professional relationships I have enjoyed over the last 40 years and the great privilege I have been afforded of serving and working with clients and colleagues, not only in the USA, but around the world.   Thank you!

Joe Rosenbaum

 

Poet’s Corner

On May 31, 1819, one of the greatest American poets, Walt Whitman, was born. A native New Yorker, Whitman grew up in Brooklyn and became the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle External. Over time he started experimenting with poetry without a regular rhythm or rhyme – now referred to as ‘free verse.’ His famous poem Leaves of Grass was first published anonymously in 1855, but he kept revising and enlarging the poem – the final, ninth edition was published in 1892, the year Walt Whitman died.
P.S. Walt Whitman shares a birth date (but not the same year) with Clint Eastwood.

The Antitrust Division Finds the Nails

– By Stephen Díaz Gavin

Just yesterday (Monday, November 20th), as Stephen Diaz-Gavin’s article “For Want of a Nail: The AT&T – Time Warner Merger” was posted on Legal Bytes, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) filed a lawsuit opposing the merger in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asking that the proposed merger and related transactions be permanently enjoined.  The lawsuit is a significant departure from U.S. antitrust policy in recent years, which has generally permitted vertical mergers and, as we pointed out in our original post, highlights the problems in not having availed themselves of the FCC’s  public interest review to address the concerns about the merger, publicly.  AT&T  immediately responded that it will defend the merger, but win or lose, one thing is a sure thing – approval of AT&T’s $85.4 billion entry into the content production business — is no longer a sure thing. You can read the full text of the DOJ Complaint and again, if you have any questions feel free to contact Stephen Díaz Gavin directly. Of course, you can always contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, a Partner at Rimon in New York or any of the lawyers at Rimon with whom you regularly work.

 

For Want of a Nail: The AT&T – Time Warner Merger

– By Stephen Díaz Gavin

In Poor Richard’s Almanack, Benjamin Franklin included his own version of an old proverb : “For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, For the want of a shoe the horse was lost, For the want of a horse the rider was lost, For the want of a rider the battle was lost, For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost, And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.” In the case of AT&T’s proposed $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner Communications, for want of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), the battle might now be lost.

When the merger was announced, AT&T confidently predicted that the deal would get the regulatory “green light”, from the FCC and the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) portraying the deal as a classic “vertical” merger that removed no competitors from any market. Mindful that AT&T was still smarting from its 2011 failure to convince the FCC to permit its acquisition of T-Mobile in a horizontal merger, AT&T wanted to avoid FCC review, if at all possible.  AT&T and Time Warner maintained this situation was different.  They pointed to the fact that both DOJ and FCC had allowed a large vertical merger to proceed in 2011 when Comcast was permitted to acquire NBC Universal from General Electric.  Just this past February, Time Warner reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) that it did not plan to transfer any of its licenses to AT&T, so FCC approval would not be necessary. Curiously, few questioned AT&T’s suggestion that there was no role for the FCC because the licenses did not themselves provide service to the public, even though the Communications Act applies to all radio licenses, not just those intended to provide direct service to the public. Apparently a sure thing only weeks ago, the acquisition has  run into significant regulatory difficulties and the DOJ has now raised the prospect that AT&T will have to divest either the Turner Broadcasting unit, which includes CNN and other popular channels, or its DirecTV business.

So what is happening now and why? Consider the political landscape for one. There has been considerable bipartisan political opposition to AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. Both leading Republican and Democratic members of Congress have spoken skeptically of the merger. Indeed, despite some relatively benign requirements (not including any divestitures), the DOJ approved the Comcast/NBC Universal merger with no divestiture obligations on Comcast. It is no coincidence that opposition to the Comcast acquisition was largely from programmers and public interest groups, but not, as is the case here, politicians as well.

Comcast and AT&T already control 62.3% of U.S. high-speed internet broadband capacity – significant market power and the capability, as internet service providers, to engage in strategies intended to block competitors. Public interest groups and content providers have again raised the concern that like Comcast before it, AT&T will now itself be a programmer with an incentive for anti-competitive behavior. On the programming side, “competitors” like Google, Amazon.com Video, Facebook and others are dependent on ISPs like Comcast and AT&T to reach users. Some officials at DOJ are also apparently frustrated with AT&T trying to circumvent the regulatory process by creating a sense of “inevitability” around approvals and although behavioral safeguards were imposed in the Comcast/NBC approval, there has been growing concern these have not been successful in preventing abuses.

If the AT&T/Time Warner merger fails, it may well be for want of the FCC’s involvement at the very outset. For many reasons, this entire situation might well have been avoided if AT&T had bit the bullet and sought review by the FCC, along with DOJ. Not doing so, bypasses the public notice and comment procedures and disregards the “safety valve” provided by same public airing of the issues. Although impossible to know at this point, perhaps the public interest emphasis of the FCC might even had taken some pressure off the DOJ to look at more drastic alternatives, such as divestitures of key assets. Instead of the FCC that would have considered imposing “public interest” conditions on the merger, AT&T must now deal with a DOJ Antitrust Division head who believes only in structural remedies, such as divestitures.  We may never know if want of the FCC, like the want of a nail, will cause the battle to be lost, but it increasingly looks that way.

This posting was adapted and extracted from a more detailed Client Alert written by Stephen Díaz Gavin, a Partner in Rimon’s Washington, D.C. office and coordinator of Rimon’s Affiliation with Studio Legale Palmieri in Rome, Italy. You can read the entire alert, entitled “AT&T’s Multibillion Dollar Purchase of Time Warner Might Fail for Not Involving FCC,” and if you need more information, feel free to contact Stephen Díaz Gavin directly. As always, if you need any assistance you can always contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, a Partner at Rimon in New York or any of the lawyers at Rimon with whom you regularly work.

Total Eclipse of the . . .

You may have started humming the Bonnie Tyler song, but it’s not our hearts that will be eclipsed . . at least not today.  Instead, today, Monday, August 21, 2017,  the moon will pass in front of the Sun, displaying a total solar eclipse to millions and a partial solar eclipse to many more millions.  A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon’s apparent diameter is larger than the sun’s, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness.

While the rest of the United States and many other parts of the world will experience a partial solar eclipse, a total solar eclipse will be visible to viewers within a 70 mile wide swath crossing parts of fourteen states of the continental United States: Starting in Oregon, continuing through Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and finally South Carolina before heading out over the Atlantic Ocean. That’s about 12 million US residents and another 10 million estimated tourists flocking in to witness the event!

If you want to know when the eclipse will start, peak and end near you, Vox Media has an Interactive Web Page that allows you to put in your  Zip Code and see the start, peak and end times, as well as the percentage of totality that will be visible in your area. You can also turn your smartphone or tablet into a guide for the event, using Android or iOS apps such as Eclipse Safari or Clear Outside.

Enjoy the rare and magnificent astronomical event and remember – safety first – don’t look directly at the sun.  Even if you are using “approved” glasses (Certified as ISO 12312-2 compliant) make sure they are from a legitimate vendor and they are actually legitimate.  As a test, put the glasses on and look at your brightest bulb or any really bright light — you shouldn’t be able to see ANYTHING (as in zero, nada, zilch, nothing!)  A safe solar glass filter will give you a view of the sun (and ONLY the sun) that will look like a full moon, surrounded by dark sky and it will also block UV and IR radiation.  If you look up and find the sun uncomfortable to look at, out of focus or with a haze around it, don’t use them (or if they are scratched or appear damaged in any way). According to the American Astronomical Society, those won’t be safe.

For you trivia buffs, the last time a total solar eclipse was visible crossing the entire continental U.S. was on June 8, 1918, and the next time a total solar eclipses will cross the U.S. (12 States) will be in April of 2024 and another total solar eclipse will cross 10 States of the continental United States again in August 2045.