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NAB CEO Gordon Smith Delivers Keynote Address at 2011 NAB Show
Now, don't get me wrong... There are some pretty useful apps out there - I have many on my iPad. But my point is this -should we risk weakening a broadcasting system that serves a real purpose in American life, a system that is a pillar of our communities for the chance to play more games on our iPads?
Recent projections show the demand for smartphone capacity is likely to slow - mainly because wireless providers want to charge you a fee, while broadcasting comes to you for free. And "free" is better than "fee."
Another reason may be that while some apps are fun, they are not important to everyday life and their novelty wears off. I've got 100 apps on my iPhone, and I use only 5 or 6 with any regularity.
But I guarantee that none of those apps comes close to matching what broadcasting contributes to local communities.
So, what we're saying to the government is keep voluntary, voluntary. Broadcasters have a unique identity. We are important voices in our local communities. We live where we broadcast, and we reflect the values of those communities, large and small across the country. Our competitors say broadcasters are "squatting" on this spectrum. A more legitimate concern is that our competitors will end up "squandering" this spectrum simply for higher fees.
Now, while I'm discussing television, let me say something about retransmission consent.
Cable stations get paid for their content, and they should. But shouldn't broadcasters also be paid when cable and satellite companies use their signals to attract customers? Stations deserve the right to negotiate for compensation of their programming. And we know that the system works, because thousands of agreements have been successfully negotiated over the years, with a success rate of over 99 percent. Only a sliver of the negotiations has led to a disruption of service. Some pay-TV companies, however, want to pay nothing or only a pittance for local stations' signals - even though local content and network programming offered by broadcasters are the ones viewers watch most.
In fact, of the top 100 primetime shows, more than 90 of them are on broadcast TV each week.
When we say it's free, we mean it's free to viewers, not to multi-billion dollar corporations that sell subscriptions on the backs of our content.
Just recently, the FCC recognized again that it lacks the authority to intrude on private business negotiations, as pay-TV providers wanted. So the issue is quiet ... until it is not...until a contract can't be settled immediately.
Americans don't like people interfering with their guns, their faith or their favorite TV show. This issue will re-surface periodically, and we'll be ready when it does.
Finally, let me talk about radio. Last year we stopped the legislation that would impose a performance tax on local radio stations. This was a freight train headed for passage.
The White House was for it.
Congressional leadership supported it.
Both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees had passed it.
This put radio in a position of maximum peril.
--Continued on page 5
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