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Door of digital broadcasting leads to new opportunities

Speaking at NAB2008, association CEO and President David Rehr called on broadcasters to embrace their digital futures fully and enter this new age of broadcasting without looking back to analog.

Delivering his opening keynote April 14, Rehr likened the transition to digital broadcasting to moving from a comfortable house that has been “lived in happily for many years — a home we've grown up in, but now grown out of.” The door of digital broadcasting is opening “to a new life,” he said, one that is a “bigger and brighter, more exciting life.”

While the February 2009 transition will transform TV broadcasting, allowing stations to deliver clearer pictures, more channels and the “crown jewel” of HDTV, Rehr said, it also opens up the opportunity for broadcasters to reach on-the-go audiences via mobile TV broadcast service.

“NAB is aggressively moving to get digital TV on cell phones, iPods, TV screens in cars, portable video players, laptop computers and more,” he said.

“That's live TV on upward of 345 million devices. That's your favorite morning show live on your handheld device on the bus to work. That's the baseball game keeping your boys quiet in the back seat of the car. That's not missing a college basketball game during March Madness, because you can catch it on your cell phone.”

Mobile TV broadcasting could generate an additional $2 billion a year in ad revenues, he said.

Rehr also outlined the issues the NAB is focusing on in Washington as relates to radio and television. Those involving television include:

  • The DTV transition: Rehr pointed to FCC adoption of the NAB’s proposed consumer education program.
  • White spaces: The NAB chief reminded his audience that prototype devices have failed on three occasions during FCC testing and said, “If these devices can't work in pristine lab conditions, they won't work in the real world.”
  • Localism: Rehr also said more than 1000 broadcasters have written the commission to showcase their involvement in their local communities, and the NAB is working to prevent the commission from imposing unnecessary regulation on broadcasters related to localism.