WASHINGTON—The world is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the Covid-19 pandemic, and on the other side is a “brighter, better future” for broadcasters with the help of a handful of new policies ready to be pushed forward, according to NAB CEO and President Gordon Smith.
Smith spoke at the NAB’s State Leadership Conference, an annual gathering of radio and TV station owners and executives from all 50 states. The event took place virtually, but Smith recalled that the 2020 edition of the SLC, which took place that February, was the last major in-person gathering for NAB and many in attendance.
In all that transpired between the 2020 SLC and the 2021 edition—the pandemic, individual and station financial struggles, racial equality protests, a contentious election and an attack on the U.S. Capitol—Smith said he was reminded of the 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Like George Bailey, he knows that many broadcasters may have been gut punched by everything in the last year. However, Smith saw that members at all levels of the broadcast community rose to the challenge to support their mission.
“Our members and our state broadcast associations rallied to work with us in support of our industry,” said Smith. “While serving as a lifeline to our communities, we confronted the pandemic with strength and unity.”
Now that the end of the pandemic is within reach, Smith says that NAB will continue to push the broadcast industry forward with a number of new policy initiatives and proposed legislation.
This includes urging legislators to cosponsor the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which would give local stations the right to negotiate with big tech companies on using their content; stopping proposals to alter the tax treatment of advertising expenses that Smith said could make advertising for small businesses more expensive; and calling for Congress to support the reinstatement of the diversity tax certificate to help boost station ownership diversity, as well as the Local Radio Freedom Act, which opposes a performance tax on local stations.
“We are sending a strong message to policymakers that we are focused on the issues that impact our industry,” said Smith.
Smith’s full speech to the SLC can be viewed on the NAB website.
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