NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith opened NAB Show 2017, he used a phrase from
the late Dr. Stephen Covey to frame his “state of the industry” remarks. “As broadcasters, we face change; we have
choices to make, but we must always be guided by our principles.”
mentioned the changes in how content is delivered to listeners (digital, IP,
etc.) and how those changes add value to the core over the air product. “When we take our strengths and combine them
with new technologies like IP distribution and greater connectivity,
broadcasters can continue to leverage the combination to make us even stronger.”
commented on efforts to turn on FM chips in cellular phones, praising major US
cell phone carriers (Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon) for unlocking FM
capability in their Android phones.“NAB
is also urging Apple to provide its customers with this feature, unfortunately
they have yet to do so.”
Smith said “America’s broadcasters
have brought us the indelible moments of our lives. (The) public will always depend on
broadcasters to be the bedrock of our democracy, to fiercely defend our First
Below is a transcript of his remarks as
prepared for delivery, provided by NAB.
Thanks again to
our friends in NASA and astronaut Peggy Whitson [on the International Space Station] for that special message.
Back here on
Earth at the NAB Show, we are witnessing the thrilling innovations taking place
in 4K UHD and Next Generation Television, along with new technologies bringing
radio to every device.
Indeed, the story of broadcasting is one rooted in
innovation, inspiration and imagination.
From Orson Welles’ 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast to the live
television broadcast of man’s first steps on
the Moon, to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the tragedy of 9/11, America’s broadcasters have brought us the indelible moments
that have touched our lives.
No doubt, the world has changed since the very first
radio and TV broadcasts.
In fact, the media landscape seems to be changing at
the blink of an eye, along with the world at large.
changes can seem both unsettling and exciting.
Change is a fact
of life... except if you’re like comedian
Steven Wright who once noted, “Change is
inevitable, except from vending machines.”
Or, the late
George Carlin who said, “I put a dollar
in a change machine. Nothing changed.”
When we talk
about broadcasting, it’s very easy to
talk about change – both in the way consumers access content and the way
broadcasters are delivering it.
But there are some things
technology will never change: Listeners and viewers will always want that local
connection that broadcasters provide – with the weatherman who tells them if a
storm is approaching, or with their favorite DJ who warns them of the traffic
building up ahead.
The highest-quality content will always find its way
to broadcast TV because of its unparalleled reach.
Even in this era
of unprecedented competition for eyeballs, broadcast TV airs 90 of the top 100
most-watched television shows every week.
And 268 million people tune into
broadcast radio every week to discover new music and artists.
their local broadcasters will always offer a lifeline in times of crisis, when
it matters most.
And, the public
will always depend on broadcasters to be the bedrock of our democracy to
fiercely defend our First Amendment rights, and relentlessly pursue and report
the facts without fear or favor.
No... technology hasn’t changed our commitment to serving our communities.
What has changed
is the way we deliver our highly-valued content and services.
discovering these exciting changes right here at the NAB Show, which was
recently recognized in the list of top 10 trade shows in the world.
Kudos to Chris
Brown and his entire Conventions and Business Operations team for this
A whole new
generation of content creators and distributors are experiencing The Met effect
at this event.
reality, to autonomous cars and the future of cinema, we are witnessing the
convergence of media, entertainment and technology that is enriching all of our
have been at the core of this ever-changing landscape, bringing together all of
these dynamic partners to deliver content consumers seek anytime, anywhere.
As my late
friend, former professor and author of the “7 Habits of
Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey,
said, there are three constants in life – change, choice and principles.
The same could
be said for broadcasters.
We face change.
We have choices to make.
But we must
always be guided by our principles.
begin with change.
Our world is, at the same time, both more connected
than ever and more untethered than ever.
People can access virtually
anything from virtually anywhere – and there are millions of sources of
In addition to
radio and TV station broadcasts, Americans also get the information they need
from stations’ websites,
digital apps and social media pages.
The way people access broadcast
content is changing rapidly, as we’ve seen with
over-the-top, streaming and NextRadio.
Many of the challenges and
opportunities our industry faces are being driven by new technologies, and
primarily the rise of internet protocol – or IP – distribution in its many
All of these
things are rapidly changing our business.
This leads us to choices.
What do we do in
this ever-changing world?
We need to believe in the virtuous cycle – the idea
that adopting new distribution platforms serves to build our overall audience
and engagement with them.
And with our core service, we need to embrace our
strengths: We are live, local and targeted.
We are the most trusted source
for news and information for those events that shape the world and our
We have a
one-to-many architecture that is the envy of other media platforms.
In fact, TV
stations turned down $38 billion during the recent spectrum incentive auction,
choosing to keep their channels, compared to speculators and wireless companies
that paid $19 billion for a portion of the TV band.
I think we now
know what the highest and best use of spectrum is.
When we take our
strengths and combine them with new technologies like IP distribution and
greater connectivity, broadcasters can leverage the combination to make us even
This brings us
to the very exciting development of Next Gen TV.
This is the
world’s first broadcast standard that offers
the advantages of broadcast and broadband.
Through Next Gen TV, broadcasters
can deliver the benefits of ultra high definition TV to viewers, as well as
interactive features and customizable content.
Viewers can also
look forward to more choices, more channels and more flexibility, along with
improved reception and building penetration.
Perhaps Next Gen
TV’s biggest promise is to revolutionize
how we stay connected in times of emergency with devices that can “wake up” to warn
viewers, and public warnings that are geo targeted with rich media, interactivity
With Next Gen
TV, we see the seamless convergence of over-the-air and over-the-top.
In other words,
increasing the efficiency and value of our remaining spectrum.
We are pleased
that the FCC is carefully considering our request that broadcasters be
permitted to voluntarily adopt Next Gen TV – just as the wireless industry is
permitted to move from 3G to 4G to 5G, as technology improves.
Ajit Pai has said he hopes the Commission can issue a final authorization of
the standard later this year.
Meanwhile, NAB continues to lead the effort to
educate U.S. policymakers about the great benefits to viewers in expediting the
approval of Next Gen TV.
The best place to see what’s possible is right here at NAB Show at the Next Gen
TV Hub: Powered by ATSC 3.0 in the Grand Lobby of the Convention Center.
And while there
are a lot of exciting developments in television technology, radio’s future also lies in being available on every
device and making choices that support its innovations.
have worked tirelessly to promote access to radio receivers in smartphones.
smartphones are manufactured with hardware capable of receiving free FM radio
signals, but not all phones have this feature activated, either by choice of
the phone’s manufacturer or the wireless
We applaud the
major U.S. carriers – Sprint, AT&T, T Mobile and Verizon – for unlocking FM
capability in their Android phones.
NAB is also urging Apple to
provide its customers with this feature, but they have not done so yet.
The former head
of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate has said activating FM
radio in smartphones would “ensure if all
else fails, you can still get information from the broadcasters” during times of emergency.
We hope our
friends at Apple are listening and will soon make this potentially lifesaving
technology available to their customers.
Additionally, many radio stations
are broadcasting in digital using HD Radio and streaming online.
We are also
ensuring radio continues to evolve to retain its rightful place in the
automotive dashboard of the future.
Radio continues to be the
dominant choice for audio entertainment, despite the proliferation of numerous
We will leverage this strength to continue offering
the interactive experience that radio listeners desire wherever they may be.
We are seeking
to create new and engaging experiences for radio, working with Ford and General
Motors, among others, on various software development projects for radio in the
We look forward
to hearing from one of Ford’s top executives
on the future of radio in the car at tomorrow’s
innovation begins with an idea, we launched the PILOT Innovation Challenge last
year to encourage and gather the best ideas for broadcasters to better serve
It was a huge
success with over 150 entries.
This year, we are delighted to grow this competition
with the support of a $200,000 grant from the Knight Foundation.
It goes without
saying, but let me say it anyway: Broadcasting is a great business, and this an
exciting time as new technologies are giving us the ability to improve the
delivery of our content.
And that brings us to the third and final “constant” according to
Stephen Covey… our principles.
The choices broadcasters make as we innovate through
new technologies must be based on our core principles –
lifeline during emergencies and keeping our communities safe…
awareness of important health and social issues that impact our lives…
jobs and essential information that come from advertising and contribute to our
local and national economies…
…And, defending our democratic ideals, the right to
speak freely without fear of incrimination, and the right of the press to
challenge the government and root out corruption in high places, public or
once said: “In matters of style,
swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
When it comes to defending our core principles,
broadcasters are standing as a rock.
Broadcasters carry the torch of
freedom and integrity, and we must use this to question those in power, to
expose those who abuse their positions and to find the truth.
Whether it’s the people in charge of our government, or
innovations that are changing the way consumers access their content, change is
a constant for us.
John F. Kennedy
said, “Change is the law of life.
And those who
look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
I invite you to join me as we continue to embrace
this law of life… and all the future opportunity that comes with it.