NAB CEO Gordon Smith opened up the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Monday, by recognizing former Bonneville and Hubbard leader Bruce Reese. He called Reese a wonderful family man and an inspirational leader. Reese died last week at the age of 70. Then, Smith went after the big tech companies.
Smith said in the past, local communities relied on local newspapers as one of their local news sources but that industry has been undermined by the rise of Internet and social media companies. Smith then went on to say those big tech companies will never be able to replicate the local content broadcasters provide to local communities. “They will never have local broadcasters’ commitment to the investigative journalism that exposes government corruption and other abuses of power.” And, Smith says that’s why local radio and television stations are more relevant, more vital, and more trusted than ever before.
Smith went a step further agreeing with something Senator Elizabeth Warren said about big tech companies bulldozing the competition, misusing private information, hurting small businesses, and stifling innovation. Smith believes broadcasters will be able to be more competitive with big tech if two changes are made by the government. First, modernize outdated broadcast regulations to allow us to compete on a level playing field with these behemoth tech and pay-TV companies, to better ensure that broadcast journalism can flourish. And second, increase regulation on the tech industry to ensure that these companies cannot use their market power to stifle competition and the financial viability of local news.”
Smith went on to say that he is energized by innovations shaping radio’s future.
“NAB is actively working with automakers and Internet service providers from around the globe to develop the next generation of radio that combines broadcasting with Internet connectivity to create new user experiences in the connected car and beyond.
Smith also said the NAB will continue to work with legislators to prevent a performance tax that would cripple local radio stations and fight for fair streaming rates that make simulcasting viable for local stations.
Tom Taylor Recognized
At the end of his remarks Smith presented Tom Taylor with the Spirit of Broadcasting Award for his more than three decades of covering the industry. Taylor is a highly respected journalist who has set the bar high for all of us who cover the radio business. Taylor said receiving the award was a great honor. He told attendees that in his 30 years covering the industry, nobody ever said to him not to do a story because it would make someone mad. “We need journalists that have that freedom.”