In conversation: Adriana Sinisterra Plana, VP Business and legal affairs, Fox Networks Group Latin America

GC hears how a commercially-minded legal team is supporting the growth ambitions of Fox’s go-getting Latin American operation.

GC: Could tell me a little bit about your legal career and how you ended up at Fox?

Adriana Sinisterra Plana (ASP): I went to school in Bogotá at the University of Los Andes, and then I moved to the US; I lived in Boston, where I received my LLM. Then I moved to Miami and started my career there with a small boutique firm that catered to Latin American investors in South Florida. I worked there for 5 years, and then diversified into the technology and telco fields and started to work for a telco company for a year.

In 2008, I started working for Fox in the Coral Gables office, until 2009 when I was relocated to Bogotá, Colombia to start the legal department.

I oversee the Latin American region, with the exception of Mexico and Brazil. As lawyers, we are in-house generalists and take care of all the legal matters in the office – from regulatory matters and all types of commercial contracts to entertainment and intellectual property matters.

GC: Is it challenging to manage a mandate covering such a diverse region?

ASP: We have established teams of lawyers in every country office, so my role is more supervisory than hands-on in every country. All offices work pretty much the same, however there is a difference in the culture of each country, which is why we have local lawyers. At the end of the day it’s not that different, we have similar legal systems in every country.

We dedicate ourselves to closing deals, hiring contractors for services, and staying informed as to any legislative developments.

GC: You were saying that the ethos of the legal department is to get involved in the deals and generate business. Can you tell me a little bit more about some of the things you do?

ASP: Every day you have to find the balance between meeting the business objectives while also making sure we are minimising any potential risks to the company. Fox values its commitment to work with integrity. As lawyers, it is our job to ensure that the company works with integrity, while also helping the business meet the goals and maintain their core values.

What makes our legal team successful is that we learned how the business works. To be aware, and to know all the aspects of the business is key, as it allows us to work together with our colleagues as business partners.

GC: Are there any legal aspects specific to television that might be a bit different to those in other businesses?

ASP: As a media organisation, we need to be mindful of what kind of advertising we show and be very aware of regulations regarding advertising. There are also regulations that are specific to our channels, like local quotas or observing family schedules. Those are some of the aspects that are specific to our business, among others.

GC: Over the coming 12 to 24 months, what do you foresee as the biggest things on the horizon?

ASP: In a very dynamic industry such as ours, where technology and habit changes lead the path, the biggest challenge is to continue offering and creating the best and most relevant contents for our target audiences while being flexible and innovative.

GC: What is the achievement that you are most proud of?

ASP: I think that one of the achievements that I’m most proud of is to have become a business person within the legal role – that means really becoming a substantial part of the commercial teams and being part of making the company successful.

I’m also proud of my team and the personal and professional relationships we have. It’s a very valuable team. I enjoy watching them grow and helping them through the process; that is priceless. Being a mentor, helping them to be more business-minded and to consider different alternatives and anticipate potential scenarios, that’s very rewarding.