Adonis Hoffman, Esq.

Attorney & Advisory Counsel

 in the Nation's Capital

Legal & Leadership Counsel

Trusted Advisor to Corporations, Countries and Consumers

 

  • Adonis Hoffman, Esq. is a lawyer, business strategist and noted thought leader with over 30 years of high-level legal, government and international experience in media, communications, public policy and corporate affairs. He has worked with CEOs, corporate boards and Fortune corporations, policymakers, foreign leaders, trade associations, institutional investors, embassies, and international organizations on a range of global and domestic issues. Hoffman provides strategic insights to policymakers, the news media, and investors as part of his branded Advisory Counsel series.


  • Mr. Hoffman is founder and chairman of Business in the Public Interest, Inc.; CEO of The Advisory Counsel, Inc., and Adjunct Professor of Communication, Culture & Technology at Georgetown University. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Media Institute, co-chairman of the External Advisory Council of Nielsen Media, editor and publisher of Inside the FCC, and a contributor to The Hill newspaper.  He provides strategic advisory counsel to organizations and investors on compliance, risk, M&A, diversity, inclusion and reputation management, as well as regulatory and public policy developments. 


  • Hoffman served from 2013 - 2015 as Chief of Staff and Senior Legal Advisor at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), working with the FCC Chairman, Commissioners and senior staff on key communications policy matters, including Net Neutrality; media ownership; broadcast and wireless spectrum; wireless and broadcast auctions; re-transmission agreements; privacy enforcement; consumer protection, TCPA, and mega mergers in the media, broadband and internet sectors, including Comcast - TWC - Charter; ATT - DirecTV, and over a dozen broadcast and telecom transactions. He served earlier at the FCC from 1998-2000 as Deputy Chief of the Cable Bureau and Policy Advisor to the FCC Chairman, where he worked on the ATT- Media One merger and the AOL - Time Warner merger, and was appointed chair of the Interagency Task Force on Advertising Practices.  


  • Mr. Hoffman served in the U.S. House of Representatives (102nd Congress) (97th, 98th Congresses) in senior legal and policy positions, including committee counsel and subcommittee staff director for the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Legislative Director for a Member of the House, and staff counsel to the District of Columbia Subcommittee on the Judiciary.  


  • Hoffman was later appointed senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,  senior fellow at the World Policy Institute, and Fellow at the Capitol Policy Institute in Washington.  His work in constitutional and electoral reform took him to thirty countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and allowed him to lead several delegations of international election observers.


  • From 2000-2010, Hoffman worked as senior vice president and counsel at the American Association of Advertising Agencies (the 4As), responsible for legislative, regulatory and legal matters, and represented the advertising industry before Congress, the FTC, and federal courts. Hoffman helped lead the advertising industry's self-regulatory initiatives, including food marketing, advertising to children, and online consumer privacy initiatives.  


  • Mr. Hoffman established and chaired the American Business Leadership Institute; consulted with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and served as a member of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).  He worked as Managing Director with Capitol Exchange Corporation; associate attorney at Hopkins & Sutter; and commercial banker at Bank of America. 


  • Hoffman is a Contributor to The Hill newspaper, and his articles have been published in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Broadcasting & Cable, The Washington Times, Multichannel News, National Journal and Foreign Policy. He has appeared on CNBC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, PBS, Voice of America, Canadian Broadcasting, and numerous international networks, and has been widely quoted in national news media, including AP, Reuters, Time, and USA Today. Hoffman's Wall Street Journal article on the TCPA was cited in the Petitioner's Brief in Campbell-Ewald v. Gomez in the U.S. Supreme Court, 2015. Hoffman is the author of Doing Good--the New Rules of Corporate Responsibility, Conscience and Character (2010).  


  • Mr. Hoffman earned an A.B. from Princeton University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. He is admitted to practice law before the District of Columbia. Court of Appeals; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; the U.S. Court of International Trade and the United States Supreme Court. 


  • Adonis and Karla Hoffman have been married for 26 years and have a son and daughter.  

A Featured Speaker

  • From major industry conferences to intimate corporate board meetings, Adonis Hoffman speaks to today's leaders on business, reputation and policy practices for success. 
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Adonis Hoffman, net neutrality, FCC, DOJ, mergers, Netflix

Expert Media Commentary

  • Hoffman is a frequent commentator on cable and broadcast television, and contributes commentary on key policy issues to leading newspapers and magazines.
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Telecom, Media & Technology

Adonis Hoffman, net neutrality, Netflix, Verizon

Law, Policy and Regulation

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Adonis Hoffman talks about DOJ action against L.A. Dodgers

Communications and Technology

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Adonis Hoffman, ATT, DOJ, FCC, merger, M&A

Looking at a $109 billion merger

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Communications Law, Policy & Regulation

Expert Insight, High-Level Experience

Adonis Hoffman is a nationally-recognized expert on communications law, policy and regulation.  He served in high-level positions at the Federal Communications Commission from 1998-2000, and from 2013-2015, where he was chief of staff and senior legal advisor to the FCC's longest-serving Commissioner and former Acting Chairman. 

FCC Warmly Salutes Mr. Hoffman

The Chairman and FCC Commissioners warmly salute Adonis Hoffman upon his departure from the agency in 2015.  He served with all of the current FCC Commissioners and maintains ongoing dialogue with the Commissioners and agency officials on major issues in communications law, policy and regulation.

Go Inside the FCC with Mr. Hoffman

As Editor and Publisher of Inside the FCC.com, Adonis Hoffman examines important communications policy issues before the U.S. government.

Merger (M&A) Analysis

Expert Insights

Mr. Hoffman is often called by media, industry and federal policymakers for insight and commentary on some of the largest communications deals of the day.  Hoffman appears regularly on CNBC and is a Contributory to The Hill newspaper.

New Metrics for Media Mergers

  • Washington has become the merger capital of the world. With several multibillion-dollar deals in the works, the FCC, FTC and DOJ are today’s proving grounds. Mega media transactions have ushered the obscure rules of mergers out of the shadows and into public view, where success is measured in more than shareholder value. In days gone by, a corporate merger was a marriage between two companies that decided it was good to combine.  But like modern day marriage, mergers too have changed. No longer just corporate unions, mergers have become multi-stakeholder exercises with often competing interests.  In recent years, media mergers have become the platform of choice for nascent competitors, consumer groups, community activists, elected officials, and almost anyone with an angle to play or an axe to grind. Many have mastered the fine art of merger mischief, using apocryphal comments in the public record to turn the tide of public opinion.  Companies seeking FCC approval have been at the mercy of malcontents advancing conditions that would be otherwise laughable but for a pending merger review.  The Communications Act directs the FCC to determine whether proposed media and telecom transactions would serve the "public interest, convenience and necessity." This amorphous standard envisions diversity, localism, and innovation. While giving the FCC considerable leeway in reviewing deals, the public interest test has been the occasional source of manipulation. Demands have grown bolder with successive deals, including cash, big-time jobs, board seats, sweetheart sales, preferential programming, and vanity TV shows, to name a few. Not all have gone well, viz Comcast. To avoid the appearance of paying ransom, companies have structured the concessions as "voluntary commitments", ostensibly to reflect their good corporate citizenship and contribution to societal goals.  But no more.  FCC Chairman Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly have shifted the focus of FCC merger review to the four corners of the transaction, placing the emphasis on the merits of the deal rather than its conditions. O’Rielly views mergers essentially as license transfers and believes it is not within the FCC’s statutory purview to go too far beyond that. They both eschew regulatory policymaking though mergers, but would allow structural conditions to ensure competition. Behavioral conditions, on the other hand, would be more suspect.  This new reality will be welcomed by corporates, but winced by consumer groups, who will have to find other ways to extract conditions from merging companies. Corporations, however, should not use the new merger approach to shun legitimate public interest obligations simply because they will not be as central to the FCC’s review as before. Responsible companies will find a way to do the right thing before, during and after mergers, and that should make their commitments even more sustainable.  (Originally published in Broadcasting & Cable magazine on November 7, 2017.)

Mergers, Media and Unholy Alliances

  • A recent Wall Street Journal article  identified a wave of mergers that are testing the limits of antitrust  laws. From beer to appliances to airlines and the media, it appears that  concentration and convergence are the order of the day. "Go big or go  home" is a mantra among merger advisory experts who readily cite scale  as the competitive advantage in a competitive global market. While  bigger may not always be better for consumers, growth through  acquisition can be a winning strategy for investors and the bottom line.A  merger typically begins when a corporation announces its intention to  absorb or absolve another company's assets, personnel, facilities, debts  and obligations. When publicly traded companies take this step, an  array of federal statutory and regulatory rules arise, including an  obligation to notify the FTC and DOJ in advance. Depending on the size  of the transaction and the parties involved, federal regulators look to  the Clayton Antitrust Act to determine its ultimate effect on  competition, markets and consumers. The Securities and Exchange  Commission (SEC) invariably will play a role in such reviews, and if the  deal involves foreign, defense, trade or sensitive matters, the  Department of Homeland Security and Department of State, or other  federal agencies, could take a look as well. The general standard of  review for the FTC is to prevent "mergers and acquisitions that are  likely to reduce competition and lead to higher prices, lower quality  goods or services or less innovation," and those that "will harm  consumers."In days gone by, a corporate merger was a marriage  between two companies who decided, for better or for worse, that it was  in their interests to join together. But like modern-day notions of  marriage, mergers too have changed. No longer just unions between one  company and another, mergers have become multi-stakeholder enterprises  involving a coterie of disparate parties with varying, and often  conflicting, goals and objectives.Nowhere is this more pronounced  than in the media and communications sector, where convergence,  consolidation and competition are robust, and a cottage industry has  emerged to capitalize on hapless companies awaiting regulatory approval  from the FCC. Aside from the regulators and companies themselves,  consumer groups, competitors, investors, state and local governments,  and Congress have delved into recent media mergers, each seeking to  influence the outcome. Such has been the case with several of the  highest dollar transactions. The high- (or low-) water mark in this  continuum was exemplified by the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition, which  combined groups from the far right and the far left joined in regulatory  combat by their mutual disdain for Comcast. Now it appears the Charter  Communications-Time Warner Cable merger could face similar, though less  vociferous, opposition.When it comes to transactions involving licenses and authorizations under the Communications Act, Congress has directed the FCC  to determine whether proposed mergers would serve the "public interest,  convenience and necessity." This broad and somewhat amorphous standard  allows the FCC considerable leeway in its review of communications  mergers. The public interest standard encompasses such considerations as  diversity, localism, innovation, and providing new or additional  services to consumers, in addition to the congressional goal of  "promoting the widespread dissemination of information from a  multiplicity of sources."Through its focus on the public  interest, the FCC review is considerably more open, transparent and  inclusive than the antitrust merger reviews conducted by the FTC and  DOJ. But it is this glasnost element that has become problematic. When a  public company seeks to merge, its very soul is laid bare for the world  to see. Its profits, plans, policies and practices are open to scrutiny  from anyone who can prove the slightest interest in the proposed  transaction. But not every inquiry is well-intentioned.Media  mergers have become the platform of choice for nascent competitors,  consumer groups, community activists, civil rights organizations,  investors, local elected officials and just about anyone with an axe to  grind or angle to play. Some interlopers have mastered the art of merger  mischief and manipulation and the power of the public record, where  well-worded opposition can turn the tide of regulatory and public  opinion. They know that a company seeking a multibillion-dollar merger  is at the mercy of not only the regulators, but also outside activists  who can put forth demands that would be laughable but for a pending  merger review. They also know that a Fortune 500 corporation  does not relinquish control of its bargaining power to regulators and  intervenors every day. With each mega-merger under review, the demands  have grown bolder, including cash payments, high-level jobs and  consultancies, board seats, sweetheart sales, preferential programming,  vanity productions, and hiring quotas, to name a few. To avoid the  appearance of paying ransom, companies deftly structure the concessions  as "voluntary commitments" to reflect their corporate responsibility,  citizenship and contribution to societal goals.Right.Federal  regulators end up imposing either structural or behavioral conditions  on most mergers. Structural conditions typically require companies to  divest or spin off assets to ensure that the new entity is neither too  large nor too dominant in the market. Behavioral conditions require  post-merger companies to engage in, or refrain from, practices that are  consistent with the public interest. This authority gives both the FTC  and FCC enormous power to shape the profile of a company — and often an  industry — for years or decades to come. Conditions, commitments and  concessions are now de rigueur for media mergers, and aspiring companies  should be prepared to pay the price.This new reality requires  companies to consider factors well beyond shareholder value. It requires  them to develop a new set of strategies, resources and advisers to deal  with the merger review process itself, distinct from the economic or  public interest elements of the deal. Companies must learn how to engage  individual interest groups on their own terms if they want their  support — or to avoid their opposition. While these concessions may be  de minimis in the context of a multibillion-dollar deal, they  nevertheless rob the company of a piece of its soul.When it comes  to navigating the merger maze in Washington, companies should be guided  by the lessons of the recent past: There are no permanent friends, and  no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. 

Corporate Reputation, Responsibility & Trust

From Crisis to Conscience

  • Mr. Hoffman helps business leaders, CEOs, corporate boards and directors to effectively engage shareholders, investors, consumer and community groups, customers, stakeholders, media and government, and to build reputations for responsible leadership through strategic alliances, partnerships and advocacy. He has been a go-to expert on corporate branding, crisis and reputation management, providing innovative solutions to companies facing media, political and governance challenges. 


  • Customers, shareholders, institutional investors, activists, policymakers and the media today are deeply concerned about the behavior, policies and practices of corporations. Our society has developed high, and perhaps unreasonable, expectations of the private sector. We expect companies not only to provide quality products and services, but also to compete globally and be exemplary corporate citizens.  We want them to protect the environment, build roads, fight corruption, advance human rights, support the arts, and contribute to local communities at the same time.  In short, we want corporations to do well and to do good. In the aftermath of Wall Street financial reform, environmental damage from the largest oil spill in history, and a host of corporate governance issues, this mandate has never been stronger.    



Doing Good

Doing Good

  • In Doing Good, lawyer, professor and business strategist, Adonis Hoffman, lays out 55 simple rules corporations and business leaders can follow to prove their character and conscience in today's demanding consumer climate.


  • Chapter-by-chapter, Doing Good makes the path to corporate responsibility plain and clear. Companies who want to reap the rewards of such a reputation can just follow the rules.  


  • Doing Good makes a simple, but compelling, case for a new path to corporate responsibility, especially for large publicly traded companies who have unique opportunities and resources to help build a better humanity.  


  • Seasoned with practical, common-sense, advice from notable business, political and cultural leaders, Doing Good is a must read for anyone who cares about the increasingly important role of corporations in today's society. 


Adonis Hoffman Speaks

To Address or Moderate Your Next Event

For a refreshingly independent and insightful viewpoint on important business, legal and policy issues, affecting your industry, invite Mr. Hoffman to your next gathering

Contact

Adonis Hoffman

1717 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 1025

Washington, DC 20006 USA

AH@adonishoffman.com

202-780-1150 | 202-695-2454


We look forward to working with you.