Smith Opens NAB Show Firing Salvos At 'Performance Tax'
April 12, 2010 at 10:23 AM (PT)
At the 2010 NAB SHOW's opening assembly in LAS VEGAS MONDAY morning, NAB Pres. /CEO GORDON H. SMITH belied his self-professed "concilaitory moderate" image when he cited the NAB's three primary issues -- the performance tax, television spectrum reallocation, and television retransmission consent. He couched the NAB's stands on those issues in stark, black-and-white terms that seemed to leave little room for compromise.
"I know politics, and in politics perception is reality," SMITH said in the midst of explaining why he took the job of heading the NAB after serving in the Senate. "Unfortunately, the perception of some is that broadcasting is the technology of the past." The days of EDWARD R. MURROW and WALTER CRONKITE may be in the past, said SMITH, but "broadcasting's vitality and reason for being are not." He cited the vitality of over-the-air broadcasting and its attendant public service, and said that his job was to "tell the other side -- our side."
Whatever you call it, it's a bailout of record companies ... I think that the American public has had enough of bailouts
Fire One: If It Walks Like A "Tax"...
On the "performance tax" royalty, SMITH said, "Whatever you call it, it's a bailout of record companies ... I think that the American public has had enough of bailouts." "You can't stop technology with trial lawyers," SMITH charged, adding, in another swipe at the RIAA, "You know you're in trouble when the health of your business is reduced to suing teenagers." He called the RIAA's insistence on the royalty "bit(ing) the hand that feeds it" -- radio.
"The RIAA decided radio stations should pay for promoting the record companies' songs," he declared. "To fully appreciate the outrageousness of this, recall that just a few decades ago record label representatives were willing to break the law and risk jail time for the economic benefit that radio promotion offers.
"The recording industry says this new fee is about fairness to artists,: he continued. "A statement that would be hilarious if it weren't so breathtakingly brazen. Under the proposal, the record company would get at least 50% of the money; the performer would get 45%; and the background musicians would get 5%. But if the record company can't find the performer or the background musicians, it would keep 100% of the money. It's amazing in the age of GOOGLE that the record labels are having a hard time finding artists to whom they owe money. According to one report, the labels had trouble locating the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Here's a suggestion: start looking in UTAH."
Fire Two: Spectrum Oversight Or Cell Phone Porn
SMITH's speech also addressed spectrum issues ("If there is a broadband plan ... let's make sure we do it right," SMITH said, calling for a comprehensive spectrum review and investigation into compression techniques, and stressing broadcasting's emergency use; he also called the Internet "rampant with lewd and degrading material," as opposed to regulated broadcasting) and retransmission consent.
"Here is the half-facetious irony: if broadcasting loses spectrum and grandma's new HDTV is rendered useless, at least she will have the consolation of knowing her grandson can get lewd material instantaneously on his cell phone."
The opening session also included a talk by SONY CORP. Exec. Deputy President/Pres. of the Consuner Products and Devices Group HIROSHI YOSHIOKA on developments in 3-D television, and the presentation of the NAB Distinguished Service Award to actor MICHAEL J. FOX.
Unions, Musicians Set Event To Counter NAB On Royalty
Meanwhile, union leaders will be gathering with MARY WILSON of the SUPREMES a block from the CONVENTION CENTER at the GREEK ISLES casino on TUESDAY at 1p PT to obce again call for the performance royalty. The group will include MUSICIANS UNION Local 369 President FRANK LEONE, LAS VEGAS AFL-CIO Labor Council Exec. Secretary-Treasurer DEB BERKO, and conductor KEITH THOMPSON and actor RICK FAUGNO of the LAS VEGAS production of "JERSEY BOYS." The union had pickets parading in front of the LAS VEGAS CONVENTION CENTER during the event.
[What do you think of GORDON SMITH's remarks? Do they represent your feelings? Share your thoughts and comments, below!]