2011 NAB Spring Conference Is Underway
April 11, 2011 at 4:08 PM (PT)
Hopefully what happens in VEGAS doesn't stay in VEGAS -- at least when it comes to learning at this year's NAB SPRING CONFERENCE. The show officially opened SATURDAY (4/9), with exhibits beginning TODAY at the LAS VEGAS CONVENTION CENTER.
The convention officially opened with a general session MONDAY morning with a large packed ballroom at the LAS VEGAS HILTON eager to hear director JAMES CAMERON. NAB President/CEO GORDON SMITH welcomed the attendees by stressing the show's theme of "integration" of media and touting the show's encompassing of broadcast and broadband. He also took a moment to thank attendees from JAPAN, saying "we're incredibly heartened by your attendance here" after the earthquake and tsunami.
FRITTS GROUP Founder and former NAB President EDDIE FRITTS was honored with the NAB Distinguished Service Award at the opening session. FRITTS, with the NAB for 23 years, praised SMITH and stressed the importance of public service, saying, "Ours is a profession of responsibility. Public service is ingrained in broadcasters not by license, but by DNA." He also addressed the battle over spectrum issues and "the 21st century notion that broadband is everything," coming to the defense of broadcasting's use of spectrum ("there is no communications medium more reliable than broadcasting").
CAMERON and his partner in the FUSION 3D system, cinematographer VINCE PACE, who are announcing a new joint venture CAMERON-PACE GROUP at the show TODAY, closed the opening session with a keynote conversation about 3D and integrating it into broadcasting.
Panel On FM Radios In Cell Phones Pits Smulyan Vs. CTIA
A panel MONDAY afternoon addressed the broadcast industry's desire to get FM tuners into cell phones, with EMMIS Chairman JEFF SMULYAN outlining the radio broadcasters' previously-stated position, noting that radios in phones are popular in EUROPE and touting the advantages of broadcasting in emergency situations.
SMULYAN raised the issue of bandwidth costs, calling broadband an "incredibly inefficient" method of reaching the size of audience that broadcasters reach with typical FM stations and contrasting the $5,000 monthly power bill for his FM transmitter at KPWR (POWER 106)/LOS ANGELES to the millions it would cost to stream to the same number of listeners.
Touting the broadcast EAS system as preferable to the use of text messaging and other alternatives, SMULYAN noted the failure of cell phones, land lines, and fiber-optic links in the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. "Our point is... what you see in an emergency is, number one, in most major emergencies... the power grid goes down," SMULYAN said. "And even when the power grid stays up," SMULYAN noted, the overload on the cell phone system in an emergency like 9/11 prevents many calls from going through. SMULYAN pointed out the cell phone industry's move to charge more for greater usage of Internet services and the challenge it poses for streaming services. "Under no circumstances are you going to see mass entertainment delivered this way," SMULYAN insisted, adding that having radios in cell phones offers opportunities for shared revenue with things like geo-tagging and couponing. And he also noted that some phones have been shipped with FM chips that have not been activated by the carriers.
The CTIA's BRIAN JOSEF countered with the cell phone industry's position, stressing the marketplace solution and saying that an FM mandate for cell phones would be "unnecessary and misguided." He said that at least 41 phones are available in the U.S. with FM radio enabled, including two of the top three sold in the U.S., the MOTOROLA Droid X and the HTC EVO 4G, and that according to the NAB's own numbers 28% of phones will be FM enabled by 2015. "Things are changing," JOSEF said, adding, "they are available to those who want them.... it's all about competition. Those who build a better mousetrap will succeed."
"The consumer is king," JOSEF asserted, "but consumer's desire for cellphone radio today is low." He cited an NAB study showing only 13% of consumers saying they listen to music on their phones from all sources, while a COMSCORE study showed that music is not one of the top 13 features desired by consumers for their cell phones; FM radio ranked 31st out of 33 factors. JOSEF also said that technological and practical matters remain a barrier for FM in cell phones, including battery life, interference, and space in the handset.
On emergency use, JOSEF said that the CTIA supports a comprehensive alert system, and that the system needs to reach everyone through how they use media, including radio, TV, wireless, and satellite, to be effective.
iBIQUITY's LANE BRUNS offered his company's HD RADIO as a solution to make both sides happy, outlining the system's value proposition as adding a graphical user interface, high quality audio, music tagging to carrier stores, social networking, low power consumption, and interactive advertising.
Social Media Lessons From All Access Columnist
Among afternoon sessions at the NAB SHOW MONDAY is a presentation on social media by FINGER CANDY MEDIA CEO and ALL ACCESS columnist JESSICA NORTHEY, who is offering broadcasters tips on maximizing their social networking presence.
NORTHEY has built a following of almost 134,000 on TWITTER and will also be moderating a panel at the WORLDWIDE RADIO SUMMIT in HOLLYWOOD on APRIL 30th.