National Association of Broadcasters CEO Gordon Smith offered a healthy plate of red meat to his constituents today as he urged officials to ensure that TV and radio have the same kinds of regulatory protections often provided for broadband and other media. “On one hand, government can treat us as if we are dinosaurs and does what it can to encourage TV stations to go out of business,” he told broadcasters at the kickoff of the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas. “On the other hand, the FCC says we are so important and powerful that two TV stations can’t share advertising in the same market, while it’s OK for multiple cable, satellite and telecommunications operators to do so. Which is it? Too powerful or irrelevant? It can’t be both.” He says it’s only fair to develop coordinated policies to give the industry as much support as the government offers for cable and wireless providers. “Why doesn’t the FCC have a National Broadcast Plan?” he says.“Why is there no focus to foster innovation and investment in broadcasting to ensure our business continues to be a world leader alongside our broadband industries? Where is the FCC’s gusto and determination to embrace broadcasting’s values and public service responsibilities?”
Specifically, he wants regulators stop looking individually at questions such as whether it should be harder for owners of UHF stations to own multiple outlets in a market or whether mobile phones should include chips to receive radio signals. “If the commission is really serious about competition, it will study how broadcasting can be a competitive check on the cable and wireless industries,” Smith says. Although officials say they want to help minorities, seniors and people who live in rural areas, FCC policies that threaten broadcasting are “at odds with the very constituencies the White House values the most.”
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