NAB CEO Gordon Smith Delivers Inaugural State of the Industry Address

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Gordon Smith

Las Vegas, NV - April 12, 2010 - NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith delivered his first NAB State of the Industry opening keynote during the 2010 NAB Show. The convention seems positive overall, but Smith's speech highlighted his concerns for the industry and his commitment to work hard for broadcasters.

In his speech, Smith focused on three issues: the radio performance tax, the National Broadband Plan and retransmission consent rights for broadcasters. In regard to radio, he said, "We will continue to fight the record labels in their attempt to save their business model on the backs of free, local radio."

He also stated that overall, "broadcasting is a cornerstone of our democracy. The values that underpin broadcasting are still essential to the American people and to our democracy." Following is his speech:

Thank you and welcome to the NAB Show.

I'm Gordon Smith. And up until the 2008 Obama election tidal wave, I was a two-term Republican senator from the very Democratic state of Oregon. But, as my cousin, the late Morris Udall of Arizona said after losing an important Democratic primary to Jimmy Carter, "The voters have spoken... the bastards!"

And while I would never say that about the voters of Oregon, nevertheless here I am.

Of course another favorite saying of Cousin Mo was that the only cure for political ambition was embalming fluid. But, lest there be any doubt, my ambition is to succeed in the politics of serving America's broadcasters.

I am very happy to be here indeed.

You may ask why the NAB board would hire a defeated Republican to represent their industry when Democrats control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and the agencies in between. Well, for one thing, I've always had friends on both sides of the aisle. I've found that when people learn your father worked in the Eisenhower Administration and your mother was born into the Democratic political dynasty of Udalls, it's easy to have friends on both sides.

In fact, one of my closest friends in the Senate was the late Senator Ted Kennedy. We worked very closely together on many issues and in passing a bill that he urged be named after my deceased son, a bill on mental health that was intimately close to my heart.

I think another thing I bring to NAB is an inside view of how government works. Let's face it, Washington is a mess right now. Will Rogers once observed that, "We cuss Congress and we joke about 'em, but if they weren't in Washington they'd be doing something somewhere else that might be even worse."

The reality is that since Will Rogers said that . . . the government is everywhere -- in the health care, financial, automotive, and agricultural sectors... and of course, in communications. So the broadcasting industry has to keep on its toes, which is why I was hired. I know politics.

And in politics, perception is reality. Unfortunately, the perception of some is that broadcasting is the technology of the past. The days of radio's Edward R. Murrow reporting from wartime London and TV's Walter Cronkite influencing the nation from his anchor desk -- some think those days are gone. Yes, those days may be in the past, but broadcasting's vitality and reason for being are not.

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