The day after the testimonies of Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh seared the memories of viewers around the nation, the offerings of Atlanta-based UPtv sounded comforting: “Gilmore Girls,” “Home Improvement” and “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?”
Reta Peery, the top lawyer for UPtv’s parent company, said her clients’ content is there “when people want to escape.”
Peery found in-house work as a way to break out of the grinding life as a litigator in a big firm.
After graduating from the University of Georgia School of Law, she clerked for Judge Duross Fitzpatrick of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia and then became an associate at Alston & Bird, handling litigation in intellectual property and other areas. She worked 80 hours a week and found litigation to be “destructive.”
“It was hard to depersonalize it,” she said.
Besides, she said, “I really wanted to be in-house” and to be more closely connected to her clients.
Through the help of a recruiter, she landed an in-house job at Turner Broadcasting, where she eventually became vice president and deputy general counsel.
She then moved to The Weather Channel, where she rose to vice president and chief compliance officer.
In 2012, she joined UP Entertainment, starting as senior vice president and general counsel. She’s now chief administrative and operations officer and general counsel.
The company, owned primarily by the private equity group InterMedia Partners, runs UPtv and Aspire, which focuses on African-American content. UP can be found in between 65 million to 70 million homes.
She manages four people in the legal department, plus two more in human resources. Work includes negotiating carriage deals with cable companies and other distributors, handling employee mentoring and managing IT and network operations issues that affect production of content.
Peery said she uses outside counsel, including Wargo French and Taylor English Duma for employment matters; Cooley’s Los Angeles office for corporate work; and Nelson Mullins’ Washington office for regulatory matters.
Peery said the biggest challenge she faces is industry consolidation, which reduces the number of distributors and networks. “It’s difficult to grow as a network that doesn’t have multiple content offerings,” she said.
Peery hadn’t thought about whether her workplace reflected the optimistic content of UPtv or Aspire. But she noted that at Turner she worked with people passionate about journalism at CNN and passionate about animation at the Cartoon Network. At The Weather Channel, people were passionate about meteorology.
So while her work isn’t necessarily affected by the UPtv’s content, the creative forces behind it “affects the kinds of people” with whom she works.