The NAB Show Is On In Las Vegas
April 8, 2013 at 5:09 PM (PT)
The NAB SHOW got rolling at the LAS VEGAS CONVENTION CENTER in LAS VEGAS over the weekend, with conferences running APRIL 6-11, and exhibits opening TODAY (4/8) through the 11th. With a slogan of "Where Content Comes To Life," the show describes itself as having "evolved over the last eight decades to continually lead this ever-changing industry. While the solutions at your fingertips have changed to keep pace with consumer habits and technologies, your aspirations to produce and deliver memorable content have remained constant. From creation to consumption, NAB SHOW has proudly served as the incubator for excellence -- helping to breathe life into content everywhere." ALL ACCESS VP/News-Talk-Sports Editor PERRY MICHAEL SIMON is at the convention to provide coverage in NET NEWS and personal Twitter commentary and humor at @pmsimon.
Monday: The Show Begins
The day began with welcoming remarks from Rep. DINA TITUS (R-NV) and NAB President and CEO GORDON SMITH touting the value of optimism in the face of broadcasting's challenges, saying that broadcasting is "as relevant as ever... and maybe more relevant." Citing the reaction to a trade site's mistaken report that auto manufacturers planned to drop AM and FM from in-car audio systems, he called for broadcasters to avoid becoming complacent and to "take control of our destinies to thrive in the digital age," SMITH touted the NAB's "We Are Broadcasters" ad campaign reminding legislators of broadcasters' involvement with their communities and urged broadcasters to embrace new technology like mobile TV.
On radio, SMITH cited the response to Hurricane Sandy as an example of how "radio is an indispensable lifeline to every local community." He used the storm to call for radio chips in cell phones, saying that "up and down the Eastern seaboard, we heard stories of cell networks and broadband connections being down for days, even weeks. But radio was always on… always there for its listeners." He said that NAB LABS is working on a "hybrid radio" ssytem for cell phones to add "nteractive enhancements, along with potential new revenue opportunities," which he also noted may come to car dashboards as well. SMITH also later sat down for a chat with NEWS CORP.'s CHASE CAREY about television industry issues, including retransmission consent and the threat of BARRY DILLER's AEREO local-TV-via-Internet service, which led CAREY to assert that if the service is ultimately allowed by the courts, NEWS CORP. would move the broadcast FOX network to basic cable in concert with its affiliates to prevent AEREO from streaming the channels without compensation.
Rep. GREG WALDEN (R-OR) 's remarks began by applauding EMMIS' JEFF SMULYAN and SPRINT for arriving at a deal to put radio tuners in cell phones in a voluntary private agreement, then turned to an analysis of television spectrum issues and television retransmission consent matters before launching into a crowd-pleasing critique of the FCC. He said he would reintroduce his FCC Reform Act bill in the present Congress, and criticized the Commission for, in his view, trying to expand its authority instead of codifying a set of best practices and "shot clocks" and then sticking to them; he cited his and his wife's own trouble trying to get the Commission to move on petitions related to FM translators in OREGON in calling for the Commission to get itself on a "shot clock" the way it requires petitioners and applicants to act within a tight window.
CBS NEWS' BOB SCHIEFFER was honored with the NAB's Distinguished Service Award, calling the moment the greatest honor he has received since being asked to sing at the Grand Ole Opry (a moment recalled in the introductory video). His speech examined changes in the way people get news, criticizing the lack of an intermediary to fact-check reports before they spread and suggesting that broadcasters could become the entity to vet stories. "It's not getting information -- we're overwhelmed by information -- it's the information itself that's important," he said, adding that broadcasters need to put more concentration on local news and giving the example of CBS affiliate WWL-TV/NEW ORLEANS hiring two reporters from the NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE after the paper cut back its staff and publishing frequency to three times a week. "What we need in this country," he said, "is accurate information."
A panel on regulatory issues for broadcasting and the interplay between Congress and the FCC featured the FCC's MATTHEW BERRY and ALEX HOEHN-SARIC and House Energy and Commerce Committee aide NEIL FRIED, dealing with items like Internet freedom from government control, spectrum incentive auctions, satellite television reauthorization before the end of the year, violence in the media, broadcasters' role in emergency communications, and pending review of AM revitalization. The panel mostly served as an update on what issues are being considered by the Commission and Congress rather than an analysis of what might be done about them.
Alternative Revenue Ideas
"Alternative revenue" was the focus of an early afternoon panel, with CBS RADIO HOUSTON's MICHELLE GIROIR explaining how her cluster launched a new HD-2 EDM station (ENERGY 95.7 HD-2)with a tie-in to HOUSTON's Pride celebration, as well as promotions with a car dealer and with IKEA for Top 40 KKHH (HOT 95.7). ENTERCOM PORTLAND's KATHY SMITH discussed her cluster's "Facebook Accelerator Program" and efforts with a social media educational seminar for local businesses, as well as promotions with non-profits. NEUHOFF MEDIA's DANIELLE OUTLAW offered examples of event promotions (a garden show) and website video (a video-cenric sports site not tied to a specific radio station).
"AM radio still matters," FCC Commissioner AJIT PAI told a packed room as he moderated a panel on AM "revitalization." Recounting his family's love of various AM stations in KANSAS, PAI raised the issues of across-the-board tenfold power increases, increased use of FM translators for AM stations, transitioning the entire band to a new digital band, and synchronous transmission. Attorney JOHN GARZIGLIA questioned what a power increase will cost AM broadcasters and whether the return on investment would be adequate, and asked "how much difference does it really make" in keeping AM radio going. CBS RADIO's GLYNN WALDEN said only two solutions might work, moving the stations to a new band on TV channels 5 and 6 or to convert all stations to digital mode; "there's no sustainable future for analog radio transmissions," WALDEN asserted, citing the growth of HD RADIO receiver ownership and calling for "a digital sunrise and analog sunset." BRYAN BROADCASTING's BEN DOWNS contended that "skywave protection has outlived its usefulness," saying that his daytimer in TEXAS has to sign off at sunset but the station it has to protect has no listeners in that area either, while attorney MELODIE VIRTUE noted that two of her clients recently turned in their AM licenses and said that AM is "not sustainable without FCC help," And BOUNCEOLOGY, INC.s DIANE DALTON WARREN drew on her experience with the MINORITY MEDIA TELECOMMUNICATIONS COUNCIL on the donation of CLEAR CHANNEL AM licenses for resale to minority and female operators to voice her opinion that content plays a key in helping bring AM back.
Regarding solutions, the panel discussed FM translators, including GARZIGLIA's explanation of the "TELL CITY" waiver allowing AM stations to use translators, while DOWNS touted translators as the solution for most of AM's problems and said that his company will file a proposal with the FCC to open a window to allow AMs to file for one FM translator each; digital radio, with WALDEN previewing the coming release of test results showing all-digital AM performance being "impressive" but DOWNS pointing out the lack of HD radios on the market to replace current radios in household applications like under-cabinet kitchen receivers (GARZIGLIA insisted that because of emergency applications, the government has the power to mandate the manufacture of better-quality receivers); and the across-the-board tenfold power increase (DOWNS said "I don't think it's enough, and I don't think it'll work"; WALDEN warned of increased cost and joked, "CBS doesn't own the WESTINGHOUSE nuclear power division anymore") and the related issue of the increase in the noise floor (GARZIGLIA contended that auto manufacturers are not working to reduce interference to AM radio).
The NAB's DAVID LAYER presented the results of tests using CBS RADIO Talk (now Sports) expanded-band WBCN-A/CHARLOTTE to broadcast in all-digital mode in NOVEMBER and DECEMBER 2012. He played audio from analog and digital modes and showed digital coverage extending to 40 miles for the daytime 10 kw signal and about 11 miles for the 1 kw nighttime signal, in both cases well beyond the 5 mV/m contour. The tests also showed improved indoor performance, although the signal was only solid indoors within the 5 mV/m contour. And NAUTEL's HAL KNELLER followed with a comparison of the HD RADIO system with the DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE system in use in other countries.
NAB Show Fast Facts
* 90,000+ media and entertainment professionals from over 150 countries
* Over $20.7 billion in purchasing power represented onsite*
* 1,500+ companies spread over 800,000 net square feet
* More than 500 skill-building sessions
* 1,600+ members of the press
* 85+ years of industry leadership
Get more info at www.nabshow.com.