NAB’s Smith: Ubiquity Is Key To Success

The association’s CEO says broadcasting must be available to all people at all times in all places and on all devices. For all that’s going on at NAB 2012, click here.

Broadcast television must be available everywhere — not just to survive, but to thrive, Gordon Smith, NAB president-CEO stressed during the organization’s NAB Show opening session today.

“Ubiquity [previously] meant a television in every living room — these days, almost every room of the house,” Smith said.

“But ubiquity tomorrow must mean broadcasting’s availability to all people at all times in all places and on all devices.”

Not only is the wireless industry seeking to steal broadcast’s thunder by developing its own mobile TV program, the recently approved television spectrum auction also suggests that government — lawmakers and policy makers alike — is picking wireless as the winner.

“Here’s the problem,” Smith said, “Even with all the spectrum in the universe, the wireless industry’s ‘one-to-one’ architecture could never match our ability to broadcast voice and video to the masses.”

Cable television’s TV Everywhere initiative and Verizon’s recent acquisition for $3.6 billion of wireless spectrum from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks are an early beachhead in those competitors’ efforts to leapfrog broadcast television in the ubiquity race.


Despite those dangers, broadcast’s one-to-many, always-on nature gives it an advantage, Smith declared.

“Generation Y gets it,” he said. “They know that digital, over-the-air TV affords viewers more choice and a clearer picture than their father’s TV.”

Smith highlighted the NAB’s success in crafting spectrum legislation that “allows television stations to participate in a voluntary auction, but ensures that those not participating are held harmless.”

He subsequently noted that competitors — cable, satellite, and wireless broadband companies — trash talk broadcast television as an outmoded medium.

Cable, particularly smaller cable operators represented by the American Cable Association, have been seeking regulatory intervention by the FCC to chip away at the current retransmission consent model, he said.

“We’re also fighting to ensure that viewers continue to have dynamic choices, by retaining a free market retransmission process,” Smith said. “Stations deserve to be allowed to negotiate for compensation of their highly valued programming.

“Unfortunately, some cable and satellite companies don’t want to pay a fair rate for the signals of local stations.”

But while noting outside dangers, Smith warned that greater dangers may lie within.

“It’s my view that that our greatest challenge is not the FCC or the Congress,” he said. “It’s not the Internet, satellite, cable or wireless carriers.

“Our greatest challenge is to have the courage to challenge ourselves.”

Ubiquity is the tactic to exploit broadcast’s platform advantage, he said. “We’re evolving onto new platforms. And it’s not just on mobile phones. We need to be on tablets, laptops and game consoles and on mobile devices not yet developed.”

One part of that initiative is the recently launched NAB Labs, which will seek to “push the limits of broadcasting,” Smith said.

“Our adversaries would like people to believe that the best days of broadcasting are over,” he said. “We will prove the wrong.

“We have what everyone wants — airwaves, content and a local connection.”

For all that’s going on at NAB 2012, click here.

Comments (2)

Leave a Reply

Bill Greep says:

April 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Broadcasters could not ask for a better representative than Gordon Smith.

Eugene Thompson says:

April 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Ubiquity through Ibiquity . . . and beyond.

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