Rehr: Broadcasters must take the offensive

In his first NAB address since becoming the broadcaster's advocate-in-chief, David Rehr echoed nervous advertisers by urging his members to adopt every new technology on every new platform. “Our signals must go everywhere to everyone through every device,” he said.

Rehr bluntly confronted the broadcaster's stodgy image. “I believe the NAB must move from an organization that is perceived as being on defense to one that is on offense,” he said. “We cannot afford to be an organization that is perceived as protecting the status quo... but rather, one that embraces change.

“… my sense is that broadcasting has been defensive in its thinking for too long,” Rehr said.

Rehr noted that for the first time in the history of media, the consumer is completely in charge of his programming choices. Broadcasters must give those consumers what they demand.

“Words are cheap. Technology is expensive. Change is hard,” he said. “But I know this: The future is always on offense, and those who play defense will be left behind.”

Rehr said the future of terrestrial broadcasting hinges on its ability to adopt new technologies. “Broadcasters must move quickly to increase the number of distribution channels and platforms for our content. Broadcast signals must be everywhere in the culture ... our future is to broadcast signal on every gadget-cell phone, laptop, PDA — and of course on multichannels of DTV and digital radio.”

In a word twist on a key problem issue for the broadcasters, ”must carry,” Rehr coined a new catchphrase: “must share.”

Referring to the migration of the major television networks to new media platforms, including Apple's video iPod, Rehr said: “Networks and local affiliates must share in new revenue streams, as they are partners in building brands and creating value. This will also help ensure the continued viability of the invaluable network/affiliate relationship.”

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