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NAB’s Gordon addresses broadcasting threats

Org topper takes aim at telcos, wireless providers, Internet companies

While hailing a string of lobbying successes for his org, NAB chairman/CEO Gordon Smith identified telcos, wireless providers and Internet companies as an ongoing threat to the broadcasting industry and called on TV broadcasters to make mobile and ultra-high-definition TV a top priority.

Smith noted press reports of telcos saying recent spectrum legislation passed by Congress is just the beginning, and they want more spectrum. He also pointed to wireless carriers plan to set up their own mobile TV systems and are asking for more spectrum to do it.

“They want us out of this game,” Smith said of telcos. “We can’t let down our guard. The American people need broadcasting and depend on what we do for our communities.”

“The current broadcasting model can be undone by technology, or government, or some unintended consequence from either,” he added.

Smith cited the success of NAB in stopping the Performance Rights Act and shaping spectrum legislation in Congress. “We averted a spectrum grab from misguided friends who would have you believe that broadcasting is yesterday’s technology.

“NAB is back,” he proclaimed, adding these victories “elevated the stature of NAB in Washington.”

But Smith warned the standing-room-only aud in the Las Vegas Hotel’s cavernous Paradise Room that NAB’s gains could be reversed with the next fight, and others have taken a page from NAB’s own PR playbook.

He looked back at the battle over the SOPA and PIPA bills, saying the idea behind them was simple: “Don’t steal our creative content.” But once the Internet giants mobilized, he said, “they used every tool at their disposal to sway public debate. They changed the debate. Shockingly, ‘Thou shalt not steal’ became ‘Do not censor the Internet.’

Smith called on broadcasters to “think big” and specifically urged TV to aggressively pursue mobie and ultra-HD TV. However it was the only mention of UHDTV in his address. Mobile was his greater focus, as he said the future of broadcasting was to reach “all people, at all times, in all places, and on all devices.”

Smith also noted a statistic bound to unnerve the cable industry: “In the past 18 months, the number of American households wired with only broadband and broadcast TV jumped 23 percent.”

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