By PERRY MICHAEL SIMON in LAS VEGAS: After a weekend of mostly engineering and technical sessions, the somewhat downsized NAB SHOW had its official opening MONDAY morning (4/9) in LAS VEGAS with an opening ceremony emceed by BEASLEY MEDIA GROUP CEO and NAB Joint Board Chair CAROLINE BEASLEY, the annual “State of the Broadcast Industry” address by NAB President/CEO GORDON SMITH, a “fireside chat” between SMITH and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman GREG WALDEN (R-OR), a “keynote conversation” with LIONSGATE TELEVISION GROUP’s KEVIN BEGGS and HEARST TELEVISION’s JORDAN WERTLIEB, and the presentation of the NAB’s Distinguished Service Award to ABC’s ROBIN ROBERTS.
The Opener: Political Wins, Emergencies, and Storytelling
SMITH’s address spoke of broadcasters’ “moral compass” guiding its actions and “five enormous wins” in Washington, including Next Gen TV, fighting off music licensing changes and all attempts at taxing advertising, getting loosened ownership rules, and repack reimbursements. He also praised WALDEN for being broadcasters’ “champion” in the repack reimbursement fight. Changes in consumer consumption habits were given a nod in SMITH’s address, but he said that the radio industry’s response involves delivering content to the connected car; he did not discuss the growth of on-demand content in audio and its impact on broadcast radio.
WALDEN’s chat focused on how the Congressman is a former broadcaster and brings a unique perspective to the industry’s issues In WASHINGTON, as well as offering an update on autonomous vehicle developments and SMITH’s wondering whether FACEBOOK should be regulated or broadcasters should be less regulated (WALDEN parried the question, saying that his journalism training leads him to try to get “facts first” before deciding but adding that his philosophy is for any regulation to be “light touch,” relying more on the market). Broadcasters’ role in emergencies also drew praise from WALDEN (“you can reach people when there’s no other way to reach them… I’d like to see APPLE turn on the FM chip, or put it in… I hate to mandate anything, but this is a no-brainer”). The session concluded with BEGGS and WERTLIEB discussing storytelling in the digital age and ROBERTS being honored.
Questions Answered, Plus Radio’s Makeover
FCC bureau chiefs appeared at a split-panel Q&A with broadcasters in the audience, answering questions about regulation and policy issues in WASHINGTON, although some of the expected participants, Congressional aides, were absent due to the testimony of FACEBOOK founder MARK ZUCKERBERG at a hearing this coming WEDNESDAY. Media Bureau Video Division Chief BARBARA KREISMAN and Audio Division Chief AL SHULDINER and Deputy Chief JAMES BRADSHAW on the first panel and Enforcement Bureau ROSEMARY HAROLD leading the second panel with Homeland Security Bureau Public Safety Chief LISA FOWLKES. The first panel offered updates on processing the remaining AM revitalization cross-service FM translator applications and interference complaint procedures, the possibility of permitting “non-conventional” AM antennas to address the problem of the land under AM arrays being too valuable to devote to radio. FOWLKES opened the second half with thanks to the industry for its help in hurricane-ravaged areas like PUERTO RICO.
In an adjacent room, a panel presided over by the NAB’s DAVID LAYER and including longtime engineering consultant GLYNN WALDEN, NPR’s DAVID JULIAN GRAY, TAGSTATION/NEXTRADIO’s MIKE ENGELBRECHT, ARCTIC PALM/DTS/EXPERIAN’s STUART BUCK, and XPERIA’s MIKE RAIDE discussing transmitting metadata via HD RADIO and RDS to make radio look better on the digital dashboard.
More to Come
The new “Achievement in Broadcasting Dinner” hosted by PREMIERE NETWORKS’ ELVIS DURAN will end the day’s agenda, with “WHEEL OF FORTUNE” and “JEOPARDY!” inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame and the Digital Leadership Award to be bestowed. The dinner is one of the events that replaced the traditional Radio and Television luncheons on the NAB SHOW schedule.
This year’s show is occupying less space than in the past, eschewing the use of the adjacent WESTGATE ballroom and moving the larger sessions into a space carved out of the North Hall floor plan. Also new this year are more exhibitors serving the podcasting industry and a track of sessions focusing on that medium as well. The BROADCAST EDUCATION ASSOCIATION conference is at the WESTGATE, running concurrently through TOMORROW.