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Fritts Reflects on Battles Won at NAB

Fritts Reflects on Battles Won at NAB

Eddie Fritts says Americans are better off because broadcasters learned how to become more effective lobbyists during his 23 years as president.
In remarks at NAB, the president/CEO of the association, who is in his last term in that position, recalled his first convention as president, when Sen. Bob Packwood of Senate Commerce Committee said on the podium that “The NAB can’t lobby its way out of a paper bag.”
Fritts says now that Packwood’s statement “had a ring of truth. … Working with you, through the years, we energized our grassroots and educated policymakers on the unique value of free, over-the-air broadcasting.”
Fritts said, “Eventually, we proved Sen. Packwood wrong.”
He listed among NAB’s successes: changes in radio ownership rules, limitation of LPFM and extension of license terms from three to eight years. Also, 10 years ago, Fritts said, 60 percent of radio stations were losing money.
On the TV side, he cited must/carry-retransmission consent rights mandated in the 1992 Cable Act; the right to put local TV signals on satellite as authorized by the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act; and the mandated DTV transition.
And, he said, NAB has turned its finances around.
“After the bruising 1992 Cable fight, NAB had but $1 million in the bank in reserves. Today, we have $80 million in the reserves and we haven’t increased station member dues in more than a decade.”
Fritts said the industry’s priorities now should be focused on a rewrite of the Telecom Act; finishing the DTV transition; moving radio to HD Radio; and dealing with the issue of indecency.