News, entertainment mix at NAB

Roberts to receive NAB's Distinguished Service Award

Bill Cosby is an old pro when it comes to performing on the Las Vegas Strip. But how about Cokie Roberts?

There will be several unusual sightings on the Strip when the National Assn. of Broadcasters opens this week — and pairs with the Radio & Television News Directors Assn. for the annual event.

On April 7, the formal part of the confab gets going with an all-industry opener by NAB prexy-CEO Eddie Fritts, who will share the stage with vet broadcast exec Barry Diller and ABC News correspondent Roberts.

Roberts is skedded to receive the NAB’s Distinguished Service Award, while Diller will deliver the keynote. Rumor has it Diller will mention the media ownership review at the Federal Communications Commission, a topic likely to dominate the NAB show.

The NAB doesn’t want the FCC to lift a national cap that now bars the big broadcasting congloms from reaching more than 35% of the national aud. The issue has divided the networks and broadcasters, with all but ABC bolting the ranks of the NAB. Small- and mid-size broadcasters worry that congloms such as Viacom and Fox will go on a station-buying spree.

Not long after Diller and Roberts exit the main stage, Mouse House topper Michael Eisner and CBS “60 Minutes” creator and exec producer Don Hewitt will be guest of honors at an awards luncheon. The Wonderful World of Disney Television Anthology Series will be inducted into NAB’s Hall of Fame, with Eisner accepting the award.

Hewitt will receive the coveted Spirit of Broadcasting Award.

There will be a substantial Washington presence at the show, which wraps April 10. Capitol Hill lawmakers and FCC regulators are on the program, with FCC topper Michael Powell skedded to be interviewed by ABC correspondent Sam Donaldson.

And lest we forget, the Cos will entertain attendees April 6 at a sold-out show at the Bellagio.

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