NAB2008 dazzles more than 100,000 with news, views, products

The NAB today released its attendance figures for NAB2008, with 105,259 registered attendees, a slight decrease from 2007. However, the global reach of the show continued to expand, with a record 28,310 international attendees.

"These figures demonstrate convincingly the staying power of the NAB Show brand," said NAB Executive VP Dennis Wharton. At the show, several activities and initiatives addressed pressing issues in the industry, especially the February 2009 transition to digital television.

In his opening keynote address, NAB CEO and President David K. Rehr described the DTV transition as the organization’s highest priority, with an aggressive crossmedia campaign that includes on-air, online and various media and grassroots initiatives. Rehr called the campaign a billion-dollar commitment that will expose each U.S. household to DTV transition messaging at least 642 times. He noted that the FCC has adopted the NAB's DTV consumer education plan, giving stations the flexibility they need to reach consumers wherever they are.

Rehr’s other talking points included the NAB’s continued opposition to the proposed use of unlicensed devices in the white spaces spectrum. He noted that the NAB is aggressively moving to get live digital TV on cell phones, iPods, players, laptop computers and other devices. He also spoke at length on the potential of HD radio while emphatically noting the NAB’s opposition to the proposed merger of XM and SIRIUS satellite radio.

The convention’s focus was on content, from creation through delivery, with an array of high-profile keynote speakers. Actor, producer and activist Tim Robbins used his keynote address to criticize media consolidation, criticize conservative talk radio and attack the Bush administration’s war effort in Iraq.

Robbins continued with entertaining and biting commentary on the broadcast industry, before issuing this challenge: “We are at an abyss, as an industry and as a country. We are at a critical juncture in this nation’s history. This is a nation divided and reeling from betrayal and economic hardship,” Robbins said.

“And you, the broadcasters of this great nation, have tremendous power, and the tremendous potential to effect change. You have the power to turn this country away from cynicism. You have the power to turn this nation away from the hatred and the divisive dialogue that has rendered such a corrosive effect on our body politic.”

Asked to respond to the speech, Wharton said the NAB “found Mr. Robbins’ remarks to be entertaining and thought provoking, although we were not expecting the expletives that were not deleted. We obviously disagree with some of his comments regarding media ownership, but we respect his right to give them.”

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