The 2019 NAB Show opened Monday with an emphasis on storytelling but also some critical words for big tech companies.
Gordon Smith, president/CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, welcomed showgoers from the main stage located, for a second year, adjacent to the North Hall exhibits of the LVCC.
Smith emphasized the “unrelenting commitment” of radio and TV broadcasters to “always be there for their communities, to inform them and to help them.”
Referencing “hybrid radio” initiatives, he said the association is working with automakers and internet service providers “to develop the next generation of radio that combines broadcasting with internet connectivity to create new user experiences in the connected car and beyond.” The show features a pavilion in the North Hall on the theme the “In Vehicle Experience.”
He also referred to Next Generation Television, aka ATSC 3.0, and celebrated its possibilities. But in an echo of past comments about radio reception in smartphones, Smith said of this new TV platform: “What we would really love to see is a chip built into mobile devices to give consumers this technology. In fact, we may be on the cusp of a new era of manufacturing that should and could include broadcast reception in devices. But to date, manufacturers, Apple being one, refuse to enable broadcast chips in their devices.”
Smith wondered if “growing tech power is one of the reasons why this consumer benefit is being held back by the manufacturers.” He called on lawmakers to “modernize” regulations to allow broadcasters to better compete with “behemoth tech and pay-TV companies” and to increase regulation on the tech industry “to ensure that these companies cannot use their market power to stifle competition and the financial viability of local news.”
He listed other current NAB lobbying priorities: “Urging legislators to oppose the reauthorization of narrow satellite legislation that prevents many viewers from receiving their local TV channels … preventing a performance tax that would cripple local radio stations … fighting pay-TV companies’ attempts to dismantle the retransmission consent process … and ensuring fair streaming rates that make simulcasting viable for local stations. And, as nearly 1,000 television stations move to new frequencies through 2020 to make room for wireless services, we will continue to work with the FCC and Congress to ensure that Americans’ access to their local TV and radio stations will not be threatened.”
Smith said the NAB is scheduled to move into its new D.C. headquarters later this year, from its current location in the DuPont Circle neighborhood. The new location is in the hot Capitol Riverfront part of the city, near Nationals Park and the rejuvenated Anacostia waterfront, and should make it easier for staff and visitors to get to and from Capitol Hill. NAB sold its current building for a reported $31.6 million.
He remarked that it has been 10 years since he spoke to his first NAB show as the association’s new president and CEO. And he asked attendees to remember Bruce Reese, former head of Hubbard Radio and Bonneville International, who died last week.
Smith’s full text as prepared for delivery is at bottom of this post.
Meanwhile, among the topics of chat among exhibitors during setup was the potential impact of the change in schedule next year, when the NAB Show exhibits open Sunday midday and close Wednesday. Most exhibitors who spoke to Radio World were supportive. Several said they had responded to a survey from NAB giving that feedback.
Attendees in the North Hall will notice a prominent pavilion devoted to e-sports. While this may seem less relevant to radio, media companies are watching with interest to understand the business case. One that has already jumped in is Beasley. Its own new Beasley XP initiative is exhibiting here.
Gordon Smith’s remarks:
Good morning. It’s wonderful to see all of you here.
I so appreciate your attendance at this great show.
As we greet old friends and make new ones during our time here, many of us are reminded of a dear friend in the broadcasting industry we lost just last week … Bruce Reese, the former head of Hubbard Radio and Bonneville International.
Bruce was a wonderful family man, an inspirational leader and a strong advocate for broadcasters.
He was passionate about this great industry and telling its story of public service.
He was an everyday hero and will be greatly missed.
Please join me in a moment of silence as we remember Bruce.
Now … let me welcome the broadcasters, content creators, producers, distributors and technology companies from all corners of the globe who have come together to share their own passion for storytelling and to chart a course for a prosperous future.
This week at NAB Show, you will see an astounding array of exhibits that are telling the innovation story of the media and entertainment industry through product displays.
We’re featuring the next generation of technologies, like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, next-gen wireless, e-sports and connected cars.
There is a saying that goes, “Everybody has a story to tell.”
My own NAB Show story began a decade ago – almost to this day, in fact – when I spoke at my first show as the new president and CEO.
On that morning, I shared the story of broadcasters’ unrelenting commitment to always be there for their communities…to inform them…and to help them.
It is a deep-rooted commitment that manifests itself in many ways that often go unnoticed – in ways that have become ingrained in everyday life for millions of Americans.
Our communities turn on the radio to find out what the weather is like before heading to work…to learn how to help their neighbors in need…or to listen to the great personalities who seem like old friends.
They turn on their televisions to watch their favorite local news anchor and to get an unbiased report of what is happening in their communities.
And, they turn to their local broadcasters for a lifeline during emergencies.
This vital lifeline is the electronic thread that keeps every community together, informed and safe.
To me, the story of broadcasters is a story of everyday heroes.
What you do day in and day out can be taken for granted as your daily acts of service are sewn into the fabric of American life.
But make no mistake, what you do is vital – you are indispensable and irreplaceable.
I am reminded of something Oregon’s 30th Governor and one of its best, Tom McCall once said about the definition of a hero.
He said, “Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better.”
An interesting note about Governor McCall – he was also a journalist and came to the public’s attention when he served as a commentator on Portland’s KGW-TV.
As a broadcaster, you strive to make your communities better expecting little in return.
And in this digital age, when people can access virtually anything from virtually anywhere from millions of sources of information, broadcasters’ role in every community has become even more critical as people search for a trusted and reliable news source.
In the past, communities could also rely on their local newspapers…but the industry has been undermined by the rise of the internet and social media companies.
Now some of these companies and our competitors are complaining that there’s not enough local news to feed their own news streams.
This irony is not lost on me.
Yet, I doubt that they will ever be able to replicate the local content that broadcasters provide to our communities.
They will never have local broadcasters’ commitment to the investigative journalism that exposes government corruption and other abuses of power.
And, they will never have what broadcasters have that make us so different from our competitors – our connection to local communities.
That is why local radio and television stations are more relevant, more vital and more trusted than ever before.
And that is why the story of broadcasters’ everyday heroism that I shared 10 years ago rings even truer today.
As your advocates in our nation’s capital, NAB is ensuring that policymakers and the rest of America truly understand the many ways you give back…and your desire to always be there for your communities is what fuels you to constantly innovate.
Indeed, here at the show, the story of broadcasting – and where it fits in a rapidly evolving media and entertainment landscape – is on full display, and it is a story rich in innovation, inspiration and imagination.
One story we’re excited to tell is about Next Generation Television, also known as ATSC 3.0. With Next Gen TV, we see the convergence of over the air and over the top, resulting in an enhanced viewing experience.
This enables TV stations to deliver their programming over the air not only to new TVs, but also to next-gen enabled tablets and cell phones without using your cellular network.
So, you can watch your shows and local news on the go without using all of your data.
The benefits of Next Gen TV include 4K ultra-high definition video, immersive, theater-like sound, interactive applications and mobility.
The Next Gen TV attachment with this phone lets me watch my favorite stations anywhere I am.
With this device, I am connected to a lifeline that can warn me of an impending storm and alert me to other emergencies with targeted public warnings that are interactive and mobile.
And, the best place to see what’s possible with Next Gen TV is right here at NAB Show.
And while this attachment is great, what we would really love to see is a chip built into mobile devices to give consumers this technology.
In fact, we may be on the cusp of a new era of manufacturing that should and could include broadcast reception in devices.
But to date, manufacturers, Apple being one, refuse to enable broadcast chips in their devices.
And it begs the question…why?
As you know, we are embarking on a new election season. And, while I don’t often agree with Senator Elizabeth Warren, I was intrigued by her recent comments about the big tech companies.
She said, “They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.”
I wonder if this growing tech power is one of the reasons why this consumer benefit is being held back by the manufacturers.
Given the threat to local journalism that is posed by these tech companies, lawmakers can enable broadcasters to better compete and to support journalism in this new landscape in two ways:
First, modernize outdated broadcast regulations to allow us to compete on a level playing field with these behemoth tech and pay-TV companies to better ensure that broadcast journalism can flourish.
And second, increase regulation on the tech industry to ensure that these companies cannot use their market power to stifle competition and the financial viability of local news.
While we grapple with these rapidly evolving changes in media, we remain energized by the innovations shaping radio’s future.
NAB is actively working with automakers and internet service providers from around the globe to develop the next generation of radio that combines broadcasting with internet connectivity to create new user experiences in the connected car and beyond.
You can see some of this innovation with our In Vehicle Experience exhibit in the North Hall.
As broadcasters move to unleash this next generation of free broadcast radio and TV service, we will continue to work with the government to ensure as much flexibility as possible to allow stations to provide the very best services for their listeners and viewers.
Winning our legislative and regulatory battles on Capitol Hill and at the Federal Communications Commission ensures broadcasters will be able to capitalize on these innovations.
Back in Washington, D.C., your NAB advocacy team is focused every day on the issues that matter most to your business.
And working alongside the NAB Leadership Foundation, we are committed to ensuring that the broadcasting industry reflects the rich diversity of America and gives a voice to the distinct communities we serve.
With our headquarters moving just minutes away from Capitol Hill later this year, we will continue to send a strong message to policymakers that broadcasting’s future is bright, and we will keep fighting for policies that make our businesses and our communities stronger.
That fight includes urging legislators to oppose the reauthorization of narrow satellite legislation that prevents many viewers from receiving their local TV channels … preventing a performance tax that would cripple local radio stations … fighting pay-TV companies’ attempts to dismantle the retransmission consent process … and ensuring fair streaming rates that make simulcasting viable for local stations.
And, as nearly 1,000 television stations move to new frequencies through 2020 to make room for wireless services, we will continue to work with the FCC and Congress to ensure that Americans’ access to their local TV and radio stations will not be threatened.
Broadcasters are willing to fight to continue bringing the most trusted local news, lifesaving information and the best entertainment to their listeners and viewers.
These broadcasters are the heroes of everyday life.
In many cities, monuments have been built to honor and remember the heroes of our times.
Over the years, they gather dust, fade in color and are forgotten by most, except perhaps by pigeons who use them to perch.
I believe the greatest monuments we can make is in the hearts of the people of our local communities through the service we provide as broadcasters.
In his farewell address to the Oregon legislature, Governor McCall said, “May we forever prove (by our action) that people can join together for mutual benefit and greater good.”
It is my hope that the actions we take in our nation’s capital and working together as a unified voice result in broadcasters’ ability to continue serving our communities for generations to come.
Thank you for all that you do to make our communities safer and more informed – thank you for being everyday heroes.