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NAB opens on record high

As many as 70,000 radio and TV station execs have flocked here for today’s opening of the 1994 National Assn. of Broadcasters’ annual convention.

A rebounding economy, coupled with widespread interest in new multimedia technologies on display here have prompted expectations among NAB toppers that total attendance will easily surpass 1993’s record high turnout of 64,500.

NAB senior VP John Abel said Sunday that a brightening economic picture will likely translate into hot business opportunities for exhibitors. “A lot of broadcasters have been holding up capital expenditures,” said Abel. “Now that the economy is better, they’re coming to NAB in a buying mood.’

Today’s events will include a keynote luncheon speech from Bell Atlantic chairman Ray Smith, whose proposed merger with cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. recently collapsed.

Attendees also were slated to hear remarks via satellite from new Federal Communications Commission chairman Reed Hundt, who is attending a world telecommunications conference in Argentina with Vice President Al Gore.

Today’s other highlights will include a state-of-the-industry speech by NAB prexy Eddie Fritts, the presentation of a distinguished service award to FCC commissioner James Quello, the introduction of NBC News prez Roone Arledge into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame and an appearance by panelists on the Sunday talkshow “This Week With David Brinkley.”

On Tuesday sports broadcasting legend Harry Caray will be inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Noticeably absent from this year’s show is the usual large contingent of U.S. senators and members of the House of Representatives. The light turnout stems from the fact that votes are scheduled this week on Capitol Hill.

Nevertheless, Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Larry Pressler (R-S.D.) are expected to address the NAB, and a breakfast discussion with congressional staffers was planned for this morning.

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