Local Broadcasters Gather for 2022 NAB State Leadership Conference

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—Local radio and television broadcasters from across the nation gathered on Feb. 28 in Washington, D.C. for the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual State Leadership Conference. The convention featured speeches from several members of Congress about issues affecting the broadcasting industry and preparations for attendees’ meetings with legislators and regulators on Tuesday, March 1.

The conference, emceed by Tommy McFly, media ambassador and WRC-TV (Washington, D.C.) contributor, 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 a “State of the Broadcast Industry” speech, in which he discussed the power of grassroots advocacy by local broadcasters to affect changes on legislative and regulatory issues.

“Our competitive advantage, and the reason that we continue to win issue after issue of importance to the broadcast industry, is all of you,” said LeGeyt. “When members of Congress are home, and now in Washington, D.C., you deliver the message that this is not just some abstract piece of legislation; it is one that impacts their constituents. You have a presence in every congressional district in the country and that is why we have won legislative issue after legislative issue, and it is why we are going to be successfully positioned going forward.”

LeGeyt also talked about the vital role of broadcast radio and television in providing fact-based journalism in an age of disinformation on social media and digital platforms. LeGeyt answered questions from attendees about NAB’s efforts on Next Gen TV, the FCC’s review of media ownership rules and the upcoming NAB Show in April.

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA-06), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, addressed the crowd about the reliability, trustworthiness and inclusiveness of broadcast journalism and consumer benefits from the ongoing deployment of the Next Gen TV transmission standard. Matsui also spoke of the need for Congress to act on consolidation in the digital advertising marketplace through the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act and that any implementation of a performance royalty on local radio stations would need to ensure broadcasters are not unduly burdened.

NAB presented Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) with its Broadcast Champion Award in recognition of his support of local broadcasting during his time in Congress. Blunt thanked broadcasters for their work during times of emergency, particularly during tornadoes in Missouri. Blunt also discussed his work to ensure reasonable regulations on broadcasters that allow local stations to compete and continue serving their audiences.

Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR-03), the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, spoke about his role as a lead co-sponsor of the Local Radio Freedom Act and what impact a performance royalty would have on broadcast radio stations.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, spoke about proposed antitrust legislation to address the competitive market power of large digital platforms.

Other highlights included: a conversation with Major Garrett, chief Washington correspondent, CBS News, and Jordan Wertlieb, president, Hearst Television, and immediate past joint board chair of NAB; an update about new schedules, events and themes at the 2022 NAB Show; and a tribute to Suzanne Goucher, longtime president and CEO of the Maine Broadcasters Association, who passed away unexpectedly in January.

On Tuesday, broadcasters will travel to Capitol Hill to meet with their home-state members of Congress and Senators to discuss issues affecting their industry, including the Local Radio Freedom Act, the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act and the Broadcast VOICES Act. 

Broadcasters will also meet with Federal Communications Commission staffers at NAB headquarters to discuss regulatory fee reform, geo broadcasting and collection of EEO data.

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.