WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than 560 local radio and television broadcasters from across the nation gathered today in Washington, D.C. for the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual State Leadership Conference (SLC). The convention, held at Washington Nationals Park, featured remarks from policymakers and briefings preparing attendees for meetings with legislators and regulators on March 1.
The conference, emceed by Bob Carpenter, TV play-by-play announcer for the Washington Nationals, kicked off with welcome remarks by NAB Joint Board Chair Dave Santrella, chief executive officer, Salem Media Group.
NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt delivered remarks about the power of local broadcasters to affect changes on legislative and regulatory issues through grassroots advocacy. Among the issues LeGeyt addressed were: the existential impact of dominant tech platforms on local journalism and advertising competition; efforts by record labels to impose new performance fees on radio stations; the ongoing rollout of ATSC 3.0 in television markets across the country; and radio’s role in the connected car.
LeGeyt also addressed the broadcast industry’s concerns with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) merger review process in light of the designation of the pending acquisition of TEGNA by Standard General for an administrative law hearing. A statement from LeGeyt can be found here.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, spoke with LeGeyt during a fireside chat. Cruz addressed the importance of local broadcasting in providing fact-based journalism in communities across the country. Cruz also spoke about the need for FCC oversight by the Senate Commerce Committee, the Committee’s confirmation hearing of Gigi Sohn held on February 14 and legislative prospects for the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act.
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL-14) thanked SLC attendees for providing local, trusted voices on the radio and TV to the people of their communities. Castor spoke about her role as lead cosponsor of the Local Radio Freedom Act, a congressional resolution opposing a performance fee on broadcast radio stations.
FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington sat down for a question-and-answer session with Rick Kaplan, NAB chief legal officer and executive vice president, Legal and Regulatory Affairs. Simington spoke about his concerns regarding the FCC’s review of Standard General’s pending acquisition of TEGNA, his interest in preserving AM radio in the vehicle dashboard, the role of broadcasting during times of emergency, potential engagement by the FCC on the ATSC 3.0 transition and the Commission’s use of audience measurement metrics.
Other highlights included: a panel discussion on the future of broadcasting in the connected car; recognition of Missouri Broadcasters Association President and CEO Mark Gordon and South Carolina Broadcasters Association President Margaret Wallace on their upcoming retirements; and a reception attended by several members of Congress.
On Wednesday, SLC attendees will travel to Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress to discuss broadcasters’ policy agenda for the 118th Congress. Issues include the threat of big tech platforms to broadcasters’ local journalism, the ongoing transition to the ATSC 3.0 transmission standard nationwide, the potential impact of new performance fees on local radio stations for the free promotional airplay of music, broadcasters’ efforts to ensure more diversity in their workforce and ownership and safeguarding the free flow of information to the press.
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 www.nab.org.