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April 9, 2018
Ann Marie Cumming
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Gordon Smith Keynote at 2018 NAB Show

Las Vegas, NV -- NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith delivered the annual NAB State of the Industry address during the 2018 NAB Show. Below is a transcript of his remarks as prepared for delivery.


I’m delighted to be here with all of you, and grateful for your attendance.

We especially welcome those of you who have travelled many miles to be here.

I always look forward to the NAB Show, an event that tells the story of broadcasting and its latter-day convergence with broadband and other technologies to deliver the content our communities rely on every day.

And it’s an exciting story to share – just take a look at what’s happening outside these walls: The Next Gen TV Autonomous Transport is giving riders a glimpse into the future of live broadcast television aboard a driverless vehicle; and the all-digital FM radio demonstration at NAB PILOT’s Futures Park is showcasing radio’s exciting future.

It’s a story that began nearly 100 years ago among broadcast pioneers, men and women rooted in their desire to inform, entertain and help people understand what happens beyond the boundaries of their own lives.

Who had a sense of calling among them to be the public’s eyes and ears…

to lead others out of darkness during times of crisis…to share profound moments…and to connect with our family, friends and neighbors.

to lead others out of darkness during times of crisis…to share profound moments…and to connect with our family, friends and neighbors.

The National Association of Broadcasters has been around for nearly as long as broadcasting itself – created nearly a century ago with the intent to tell broadcasters’ story and to support their mission, which is at the heart of what they do every day.

And that mission is to always be there, to be the voices against oppression…the megaphones for freedom and democracy…and to report the news without fear or favor.

Protecting this mission is the moral compass that drives all that we do at NAB, in our advocacy before Congress and the Federal Communications Commission and in our investment in future innovations and technologies.

This past year, we at NAB worked hand in hand with our broadcasters to educate policymakers on stations’ vital role, and together we achieved five enormous wins.

* The FCC approved voluntary deployment of the Next Gen TV standard, which promises to deliver the benefits of ultra-high definition television, interactive features and customizable content to viewers.

* We again fought back attempts by the record labels to tax radio stations simply for promoting and playing the music listeners love to hear.

* We prevented a $169 billion tax on advertising that would hurt every broadcast station, as well as small businesses and vital, local jobs.

* More, the Commission made significant strides to modernize outdated media ownership rules.

* And, most recently, broadcasters were instrumental in securing $1 billion in legislation passed by Congress to reimburse radio and television stations for their costs during the spectrum repacking process, ensuring viewers and listeners don’t lose access to their stations.

These wins did not come by accident or chance.

They were won because of the willingness of radio and television broadcasters all across the country to advocate on these critical issues.

When this industry speaks with one voice, these wins demonstrate that it is a powerful voice.

So, while appropriate to enjoy a moment of thanksgiving and celebrating, this much we also know – the challenges will keep coming and our cause cannot rest.

The world as we know it is unpredictable – we face a very divided government that struggles to find compromise and solve the nation’s problems.

In just a few minutes, we will welcome House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, who was instrumental in helping to secure the funds to reimburse broadcasters for their relocation costs, to talk about some of the issues that are impacting the future of local stations.

But, right now with all of you, I want to talk about how we envision broadcasting’s future and what we want that future to be.

In thinking about the future of this great industry, I am reminded of the time my son and I attended a sporting event.

Since he was a young boy – maybe four or five years old – he asked if he could see what I saw from my height.

He pleaded with me to put him up on my shoulders so that he could see the action and look farther into the distance.

In his eyes, I was as tall as a giant.

I obliged and picked him up by the ankles and stood him on my shoulders.

My son was amazed by all that he could see… standing on my shoulders, he could see more than just the action on the field – he could see beyond the horizon, the trees, hills and houses that dotted the landscape – things that he could not see standing on his own.

Here at the NAB Show, broadcasters are standing on the shoulders of the innovators, creators and storytellers, whose creativity, passion and energy are allowing us to see broadcasting as it could be in the future.

We have also inherited so much from those broadcasters before us and continue to learn from those in the present.

And, standing on the shoulders of these giants, we can imagine a brighter future than we could on our own.

And, if we are like a little boy or girl standing on the shoulders of giants looking into the horizon, what do we want to see?

What is our vision of broadcasting’s future?

I believe our future lies in investing in the innovation that is crucial to our long-term growth, so that we can always be there for our communities… anywhere they are, and always for free.

There is no better or more reliable resource for information during times of crisis than broadcast stations.

But, we also recognize that consumers’ media consumption habits are always changing, and we continue to evolve with these changes.

We are witnessing an exciting revolution in radio.

Through PILOT, our innovation initiative, we are conducting the first experiments with all-digital FM radio that could deliver more digital audio channels and data capacity to support autonomous vehicle and connected car infrastructures, providing broadcasters with new uses of their valuable spectrum.

NAB is working with the largest U.S. radio groups to improve the presence, appearance and overall positioning of radio on the car dashboard.

And, we are working closely with leaders in the auto industry to identify areas of collaboration and ways to enhance the relevance and operation of radio in present and future automobiles.

We welcome the automotive executives participating in this year’s NAB Show, including representatives from Audi, Avis Budget Group, Honda, Ford, the GENIVI Alliance and General Motors.

Television also continues to evolve in a digital world.

A just released Knight Foundation study notes that television stations’ websites are a dominant local news source, especially in many smaller markets.

And, exciting developments with Next Gen TV promise to enhance viewers’ access to the content they seek.

Recently, NAB partnered with Capitol Broadcasting Company’s WRAL-TV and NBC Universal to present the Winter Olympic Games from the Republic of Korea using Next Gen TV, on an experimental broadcast channel in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Hundreds of people saw the future of television using the new standard in this demonstration.

They experienced stunning ultra-high definition video, the first ever live over-the-air use of Dolby’s immersive audio system, as well as interactive applications providing customized access to information about viewers’ favorite athletes, countries and sports, and even additional video on-demand content.

Our collaboration continues with the Consumer Technology Association and Tribune station WJW to operate a “living laboratory” Next Gen TV test station in Cleveland. And, like WRAL, we successfully aired the Winter Olympic Games in ultra HDTV in Cleveland.

And, two initiatives to establish test markets for Next Gen TV – one in Phoenix, led by Pearl stations, and one in Dallas, led by Sinclair, Nexstar and Univision – are underway.

Both plan to be on the air this year.

Local stations have the power to reach and impact people like no other medium, and our innovations are expanding and improving the delivery of emergency updates, local news and entertainment our listeners and viewers value.

Yes, the NAB Show is an opportunity for us to reflect on and celebrate what we do.

But it is also an opportunity for us to take an active part in shaping our industry’s future.

We can begin by taking advantage of all that is being offered here.

And, as we stand on the shoulders of broadcast giants and envision broadcasting’s future, know that this vision enhances the local service that broadcasters so uniquely and critically provide to our communities, even in an evolving media landscape.

Recently, Senator Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota spoke before a room of broadcasters at our State Leadership Conference, and something she said really resonated with me.

She said when she talked to colleagues about broadcasters’ vital role in our communities, she liked to paint a picture for them of what life would be like without radio and TV stations.

She asked…

* Who would tell us where to seek shelter when the storm is coming, and stay with us throughout the ordeal until the danger passes?

* Who would promote and support the charities that help our friends and neighbors in need?

* And who would investigate, produce and air the stories that uncover government corruption and protect us from consumer scams?

To her, she said, this would be a very bleak picture for our communities, but it’s a reminder of broadcasting’s highest purposes.

Being here at NAB Show and embracing the digital future and its great opportunities with all of you, I am reminded of the American illustrator Norman Rockwell, whose portraits captured everyday American life in an optimistic light.

Some people criticized Rockwell’s work in his time, calling it a Pollyanna view of the world.

But, Norman knew what the American people needed and wanted to see, in order to envision better lives for themselves.

So, he persisted in his work and gave the people shoulders to stand on, enabling them to see the best in themselves in gigantic ways.

He said of his work, “I paint life as I would like it to be.”

We, too, can paint broadcasting as we’d like it to be.

Together, we can make our vision of broadcasting’s bright future a reality.

Thank you.


About NAB Show
NAB Show, held April 22-27, 2017 in Las Vegas, is the world's largest convention encompassing The M.E.T. Effect, the convergence of media, entertainment and technology. With 103,000 attendees from 166 countries and 1,700+ exhibitors, NAB Show is the ultimate marketplace for solutions that transcend traditional broadcasting and embrace content delivery to new screens in new ways. From creation to consumption, across multiple platforms and countless nationalities, NAB Show is where global visionaries convene to bring content to life in new and exciting ways. For complete details, visit

About NAB
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters. NAB advances radio and television interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at

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