Here are remarks of NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith at the opening of the NAB Show, as prepared for delivery.
Thank you and
welcome to the NAB Show.
Though change abounds in the media
industry, your attendance at the show to celebrate technology, content and
connectivity is a constant we appreciate.
welcome those of you who have travelled many miles to be here.
This is an
exciting time to be in the media business.
Just take a look
at what’s happening at the show: NHK is
demonstrating over-the-air transmission of 8K content, NextRadio is presenting
a highly interactive experience for radio listeners on smartphones, and
multi-screen services like ATSC 2.0 are showing how today’s broadcast TV can be enhanced with synchronized
content delivered via the Internet.
marketplace, we are beginning to see the incredible power of the convergence
between broadcasting and broadband.
A future that
includes both is bright.
Broadband, much like broadcast radio and
television, is a game-changer.
It has enhanced the ways we communicate,
creating new platforms for consumers to deliver and receive content.
broadband and broadcast industries differ in our sources of motivation.
strive each day to serve their local communities.
Broadcasting is broadcasters
– men and women uniquely tied to the people they serve – men and women who are
committed not only to innovation but to serving the public interest.
The pioneers of
broadcasting believed that radio and television could be used for the greater
good… to inform, entertain and help people understand what happens beyond the
boundaries of their own lives.
Throughout all the great moments in
history – both tragic and joyful – local broadcasters have been there to
turn to local TV and radio stations to follow the inspiring events that have
shaped our nation…
… and to mourn together when tragedy
befalls our communities, governments and leaders.
We are here to
be the public’s eyes and ears…
to lead them out of darkness during times of crisis… to share profound moments…
and to connect to our family, friends and neighbors.
We are here to
be the voices against oppression… and we are here to be the megaphones for
freedom and democracy.
We are always here for our communities…
anywhere they are, and always available for free.
That is the
public good we provide… that is our mission… and at the heart of what we do
is no substitute for broadcasters’ dedication to
localism… there is no other medium dedicated to serving the local communities
throughout this great nation.
And there is no denying broadcasting’s economic impact.
broadcast radio and television industry contributes nearly $1.3 trillion of
Gross Domestic Product and 3 million jobs to the American economy annually.
Couple this with
broadcast radio and television’s efficient
one-to-many architecture, it’s no wonder
other industries challenge us on all fronts.
It’s hard to compete with free and local.
industry covets our spectrum, because they chew through their massive
allocation of spectrum, attempting to deliver the video we deliver far more
they continue to milk, bilk and bill by the bit.
Our content, our
connection to local communities and our spectral efficiency make us the envy of
are a competitive threat.
I am not sure Washington views us this
one hand, government can treat us as if we are dinosaurs and does what it can
to encourage TV stations to go out of business.
On the other
hand, the FCC says we are so important and powerful that two TV stations can’t share advertising in the same market, while it’s okay for multiple cable, satellite and
telecommunications operators to do so.
powerful or irrelevant?
possible explanation is that, over the past five years, there has been an
increasingly singular focus by the federal government on broadband.
invested many millions of dollars and a year of the FCC’s time and effort to produce a National Broadband
Plan – a roadmap for investment and innovation for the cable and wireless
FCC has also opened separate inquiries on how to foster investment in
the while, the FCC has continued to regulate broadcasters as if the world is
stuck in the 1970s.
So I ask, why doesn’t the FCC have a National Broadcast
is there no focus to foster innovation and investment in broadcasting to ensure
our business continues to be a world leader alongside our broadband
is the FCC’s gusto and determination to
embrace broadcasting’s values and
public service responsibilities?
broadcast plan would take a holistic view of our industry… something we have
sought for years.
than addressing one small piece of radio and television ownership rules, why
not conduct a meaningful and thorough review of all of these decades-old
Instead of individually looking at the
UHF discount, the sports broadcast rule or the use of sharing agreements, why
not step back and assess whether, and if so, to what extent, those rules
achieve our broadcast goals?
broadcast plan could look at any number of areas, and figure out how
broadcasting can continue to be a competitive force in this country and
continue to serve the public interest.
from a public safety perspective, what enhanced role can broadcasters
of the strength of our architecture, and the power of our airwaves, local
stations are often the only available communications medium during disaster
former FCC Chairman Mark Fowler noted in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal,
“Broadcasting kept more than eight
million people safe and informed during Hurricane Sandy. Broadband can’t do that.”
So why not, for
example, think seriously about removing the competitive and other barriers to
including FM chips in mobile phones?
Why not inquire
about the role mobile TV and the mobile emergency alert system can play in
keeping the American people safe?
Time and time
again, we have witnessed how broadcasters deliver lifesaving information during
emergencies – often placing their own lives in jeopardy.
I would ask the
FCC, is this not a highest and best use of spectrum?
What is the worth
of a human soul?
A national broadcast plan would
capitalize on broadcasting’s one-to-many
network architecture that transmits one signal to many receivers – its service
area spanning hundreds of square miles.
This inquiry is
critical, because wireless broadband chugs along, buffers and crawls when it
comes to video.
consumers want access to large, live events, broadcasting must be part of the
if the Commission is really serious about competition, it will study how
broadcasting can be a competitive check on the cable and wireless industries.
In its National
Broadcast Plan, the FCC should also refocus itself on some of the primary goals
of the Communications Act.
broadcasting, who will carry out the public interest mandates of diversity and
localism, to say nothing of children’s programming,
political events and observing decency standards of local communities.
to these standards, the Internet would collapse.
We also cannot
afford to risk disenfranchising those in society who rely most on broadcast TV
and radio as their primary source of local news, emergency updates, sports and
leaders have placed a high priority on giving a voice to those whose voices
often go unheard – those who live in rural communities and low-income areas,
minorities and seniors.
the very people who would be harmed the most by a spectrum incentive auction
that is not carried out judiciously.
seems the FCC is at odds with the very constituencies the White House values
Now, NAB has
worked tirelessly for the past year and a half to help the FCC deliver on
Congress’s direction to hold a voluntary
broadcast spectrum incentive auction.
every concern we have raised, we have offered a meaningful solution.
face it, the incentive auction will affect the TV broadcast industry far more
than any other industry.
is the only industry the auction can actually harm.
While we understand the goal of
freeing up spectrum and believe in smart spectrum policy, an equal aim should
be to ensure that broadcasters and their viewers are not harmed in the process.
But at the
moment, it is, at best, an open question whether the FCC has balanced those
FCC ruled against sharing arrangements between two stations in the same market,
deeming them in violation of ownership rules – many years after blessing them
in the public interest.
at the same time, the FCC is pushing stations to channel share in efforts to
reclaim more spectrum to auction off.
let’s get this straight: Sharing was good
until the FCC deemed it wasn’t, and now
sharing is good again. But when will they say it isn’t?
light of the FCC’s recent action,
it’s not surprising that broadcasters are
finding it hard to trust that the FCC will follow through on its commitments
during the incentive auction.
can we trust that the carpet won’t be pulled from
underneath us again, even after following the rules?
The truth is, we don’t know.
that’s a problem for the incentive auction.
To close this trust gap, the FCC
must work collaboratively with broadcasters.
It must demonstrate through its actions
– not just words – that it is committed to ensuring broadcasting is a
competitive force with a thriving future.
must also commit to ensuring viewers can still access the same channels after
We must also
ensure the continuation of the current free market retransmission consent
should continue to encourage fair and market-based negotiations that result in
the most compelling and popular programming for viewers.
Government intervention would
only tip the scales in favor of pay-TV providers, whose end game is to drive
free-TV out of business and capitalize on new advertising dollars.
Through aggressive advocacy in
Washington, NAB will remain committed to ensuring broadcasters’ long legacy of serving the American public.
Whether it’s attempts by the big record labels to impose a tax
on local radio stations for simply playing music, or pay-TV companies’ attempts to get out of fairly compensating
broadcasters for the highly-valued content they resell, you can be sure we won’t let down our guard.
The enduring value of broadcasting
remains – it is the ultimate survivor.
with competing media platforms, broadcast radio and television is still the
preferred technology for news and entertainment.
From hybrid FM radio, mobile TV and
ultra HD, we are experiencing exciting developments in broadcasting.
And in order to continue adapting
and responding to consumers’ demands, I
believe that television broadcasting should seriously consider the challenges
and opportunities of moving to a new standard.
This would allow stations the
flexibility and efficiency they need to innovate, to better serve their
viewers, to compete in a mobile world and to find new revenue streams.
The world as we know it is
volatile – we face a very divided Congress that cannot seem to find meaningful,
all this, and despite the strength of those in and out of government seeking to
weaken broadcasting, the strength of your broadcast industry remains strong,
and our task to defend the enduring values of broadcasting and to always be
there for our listeners and viewers when they need us most remains as important
and as winnable as ever.
is America’s indispensable, irreplaceable
once said, “As long as our
government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by
their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of persons and of property,
liberty of conscience and of the press, it will be worth defending.”
We have a
crucial mission that goes beyond ensuring the viability of the broadcast
more than just another moneyed interest.
goes to the heart of making sure that the beautiful Lady of Liberty, who stands
with arms outstretched at the entrance to New York Harbor, will still be standing
hundreds of years from now.
will always be the voice of our freedom and democracy.
That is something precious.
That is something worth
something worth winning.