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CEAs Shapiro to Broadcasters: It’s not the ’50s

Consumer electronics association executive challenges broadcasters to embrace change and “innovate or die”

CEA President/CEO Gary Shapiro has brought out the buggy whip image of broadcasters again. In a speech to The Media Institute in Washington, he said broadcasters need to stop acting like it’s the 1950s, and challenged the industry to embrace change and “innovate or die.”

Much of his remarks concerned the upcoming television spectrum auctions and subsequent channel repacking. However he did mention radio, noting that in many instances, broadcasters “push mandates, like an FM chip in cellphones.”

NAB has said repeatedly it’s not asking for a government mandate of FM chips in wireless devices.

While the 30-year CEA executive complimented broadcasters for excelling “in accurate and compelling coverage of the Boston tragedy” last week he maintains “their message is clear: as long as existing broadcasters have their piece of the pie, there’s no need to care about everyone else.”

Shapiro said, noting that as long as broadcasters are using the public spectrum for their eight-year license terms, policy makers should resist broadcaster calls for burdening others. That includes relying on Washington for government-mandated advantage against other industries. He understands the impulse, noting that “It is natural to try to preserve the status quo — especially when it is slipping away.”

He acknowledged that CEA and NAB do work together on the standard-setting body, the National Radio Systems Committee and cooperated on the development of HD Radio. The full text of the speech can be found here.