To help, NAB will launch an aggressive campaign to explain the benefits of DTV and the digital transition to the American people.
NAB President David Rehr believes the broadcasting business remains vibrant and strong.
However, in a speech today at the National Press Club, Rehr said that to remain on top broadcasters need to do a better job telling their story. To help in that effort, he said, NAB will soon launch an aggressive campaign to explain the benefits of DTV and the digital transition to the American people.
Part of that digital future includes stations that are “embracing multi-platform” strategies.
An NAB survey shows that 72% of stations from the smallest market of Glendive, Mont., up to the 70th TV market of Tucson, Ariz., are streaming video on their Web sites; 36% are sending text messages to mobile homes and 88% sell advertising on their Web sites.
Rehr also emphasized the need for more competition, saying that telephone companies should be allowed to compete fairly with cable in offering video services. It will give consumers more choice and better prices, he said.
Broadcasters, he added, must also reassert “our unparalleled leadership as the media of choice.”
Rehr said broadcasters must correct several misconceptions. Broadcast TV still rules when it comes to viewership. In the 2005-06 season, broadcasters had the top 235 highest rated programs among all TV households.
And perhaps most importantly, he said that broadcasters must continue to leverage “our unique advantage of localism—enhancing community life and encouraging responsibility.”
He underscored the importance of localism. Broadcasters are well known for “promoting local causes, raising funds for charities and providing vital emergency information. When you need information on school closings or Amber alerts, where do you turn first? The answer is, and remains, broadcasters,” Rehr said.
In fielding question about the DTV transition, Rehr said he’s optimistic that prices for HDTV receivers will continue to fall. He also said it was “ridiculous” for anyone to say that the spectrum allocated to broadcasters for DTV was a “boondoggle.”
Rehr also promised that NAB would become more active in its support of a reporter shield law. “You’ll see NAB more engaged on that issue,” he told the press club audience.
Asked if media consolidation has harmed localism, Rehr answered: “Most people are very satisfied with the media.” Local stations work “very hard” to provide as much news and information to the public as possible, he said.
And he reiterated NAB’s position that the FCC’s ownership rules need to offer more “flexibility.”
The NAB president was also asked if he thinks media consolidation threatens minority ownership. “I’d like to think not,” said Rehr.
“There are some challenges for people of color in the broadcast business. NAB is working to help increase diversity,” he said. “The number of women and minorities in broadcast ownership are getting better. But they are not as good as they should be.”
As for the indecency regulations, Rehr does not think broadcasters will ever be free of those restraints. But, he asked, why the indecency rules don’t apply to cable. “I hope over time Congress and the FCC will relook at that issue.”
He continued: “It’s important that broadcasters protect the First Amendment but not to protect the First Amendment to promote obscenity.”
What about free air time for politicians? Stations already provide free time to politicians by broadcasting debates and town hall meetings among other public affairs programming, he said.
He was also asked if broadcasters would fare better under a Republican administration. Said Rehr: “We want pro-broadcasting people. We at NAB do not have a political litmus test.”