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New NAB Leader to be Proactive on New Tech

Performance fee, FM on devices are priorities for new prez

NAB’s new President/CEO Gordon Smith began his first term in the U.S. Senate in 1997, when the FCC was still implementing the Telecom Act. Remember at the time, Reed Hundt said Congress left many details up to the commission, who worked on implementing sections of the act in six-month increments.

Smith met with trade press soon after he greeted attendees of The NAB Radio Show.

I asked him what his biggest challenge for radio is; he believes it’s the performance act: “Whether you call it a fee, a fine or a tax,” it affects broadcasters’ ability to do business, he said. “The truth is, artists need broadcasters and vice versa.”

I also asked him about a rumor I heard that since television has gone digital, lawmakers don’t quite realize that radio is still in its digital transition. Without saying whether he had heard that or not, Smith did say part of the NAB’s job is education about “high-def” radio and that he looked forward to that part of the job.

As for his plans to lead the NAB in the direction of new technologies, Smith plans to “reach out to Apples and Microsofts and producers of new technology about including FM radio in their products …”

NAB Board Joint Chair Steve Newberry said to look for the organization to embrace new technologies; when looking for a new leader, the search committee specifically sought someone who is proactive in that arena.

Smith, former chair of the Senate GOP High Tech Task Force, has an entre into building partnerships with these companies, as opposed to waiting for those companies to tell broadcasters what they have in mind, according to Newberry.

To me, the standing ovation Smith received from attendees here in Philly when he was introduced was telling; I’ve heard various broadcasters telling me they’re relieved (and glad) NAB has a leader to chart a new course.