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AM Engineering Study Is Subject of “Continued Evaluation”

NAB board news: Don Benson is new radio chair

Apparently it will be a while yet before we hear officially what the tech staff at NAB and other experts think can be done to improve the long-term business and regulatory prospects of AM stations.

EVP/CTO Kevin Gage told a meeting of the NAB Radio Board about activities of his new Radio Technology Committee. As part of that, he “discussed the continued evaluation of the AM Engineering Study to determine recommendations regarding AM regulatory options,” according to a meeting summary. But public details of that discussion remain few. (Asked about the study earlier this year, Gage told Radio World in an interview, “It’s too early to say much, other than I parse the problem as, ‘Where is radio five to 10 years from now; and what are the platforms that are potentially in place? What can we do with those platforms?’”)

In board business, Don Benson is the new chairman of the NAB Radio Board. The president/CEO of Lincoln Financial Media was elected to the post unanimously, according to the meeting summary.

He succeeds Caroline Beasley, executive VP/CFO of Beasley Broadcast Group, who remains on the board, now as second vice chair.

The first vice chair for radio will be John Beck, senior VP and market manager for Emmis Communications St. Louis. Jose Valle, president of Univision Radio, was elected to the Radio Board’s major group representative seat.

The board reaffirmed Gordon Smith as NAB president/CEO. Paul Karpowicz of Meredith Corp. was reelected joint board chairman; Marci Burdick of Schurz Communications was reelected chair of the TV board.

According to the summary, members heard updates from staff about the FCC’s implementation of the Local Community Radio Act including low-power FM and issues surrounding FM translators and second adjacent-channel waivers.

They heard NAB lobbying leader Kelly Cole report on developments surrounding performance royalties, last week’s “Future of Audio” hearing on the Hill as well as the Clear Channel/Big Machine royalty deal. (According to the statement, “The Radio Board agreed that this privately negotiated free-market agreement demonstrates that there is no need for Congress to get involved in legislation on this issue.”)

The staff briefed the board on a court case involving the Copyright Royalty Board and possible congressional actions to reform CRB. “Ms. Cole led a discussion and gathered input on the ramifications of a possible court decision that would challenge the legitimacy of the CRB,” the summary stated.

Jeff Smulyan, chairman/CEO of Emmis Communications, reviewed strategies to get the word out about the importance of radio-enabled cell phones, “noting that cell carriers prefer charging escalating rates for streaming applications rather than activate radio chips for free broadcast radio.” Staff told board members about resources available to help educate the public, including “online and advertising resources as well as messaging points.”

This was the first meeting for several newly elected radio board members: Pete Booker, president/CEO, Delmarva Broadcasting Co.; Erik Hellum, executive vice president, Townsquare Media; Dick Lewis, president/market manager, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment – New Orleans; Frank Osborn, president of Qantum Communications; Mary Quass, president/CEO, NRG Media; Jose Valle, president, Univision Radio; and Bud Walters, president, The Cromwell Group.