PHILADELPHIA : Former Oregon Senator Gordon Smith delivered his first public speech since last week’s announcement that he would become president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters. The remarks were made during the 2009 NAB Radio Show Opening Address held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. The transcript is reproduced here in its entirety:
“It is an honor and a privilege to stand before you as the incoming president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters.
“I’ve been fortunate to meet with many of you and learn more about the challenges you face, and the opportunities that lie before you in this digital age.
“It’s both an exciting and a challenging time for the broadcasting business, and I plan on hitting the ground running as your president and CEO to ensure your voices continue to be heard back in Washington, D.C. As a member of the Senate, I worked across party lines to get legislation passed. Now, my politics are the interests of the National Association of Broadcasters, which translates into serving radio and television broadcasters and the American people.
“Having served on the Senate Commerce Committee, I’m familiar with the issues that impact America’ s local broadcasters. I am also keenly aware of, and amazed by, the public service that you provide to your communities each and every day. In towns big and small, broadcasters provide their communities with national and local news, deliver informational programming, report vital emergency information and offer unparalleled entertainment choices. You are the glue that connects your friends, family and neighbors to each other.
“As broadcasters, you take seriously your responsibility to be a fundamental resource for your local communities and your commitment to providing public service. That is an awesome responsibility.
“To call oneself a broadcaster, is truly answering to a higher calling. It’s knowing you’ve been entrusted with the public’s airwaves, and recognizing that what you report and air impacts the lives of your viewers. You serve your communities in remarkable ways, improving the quality of life and fostering the principles of localism.
“And it’s going to be my job to make sure policymakers and the rest of America understand the many ways broadcasters give back to their communities.
“America’s local radio and television stations are integral parts of the towns and cities they serve.
Broadcasters’ contributions to their local communities are diverse, enormously valuable and make a major impact on towns and cities all across the country--in large part because each individual station has the latitude to serve their audience’s unique and specific needs.
“But many of the legal and regulatory challenges broadcasters face in Washington, D.C., such as the performance tax and the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act – or SHVERA – can affect your ability to support your communities and innovate to meet the demands of today’s rapidly changing media landscape.
“As Charles mentioned earlier, you have a dedicated team of professionals working to ensure you are represented in Washington, D.C. And I can not wait to join them. But as a former senator I know, that it is the commitment from association members--the grassroots strength of NAB--that makes an incredible difference. You must continue to come together to fight for the future of broadcasting.
“I want to commit to you, that you also have a new president and CEO who is dedicated to advocating on behalf of all broadcasters and focused on providing the best service possible to our members. Too often in Washington, D.C., we’re defined by labels. The label I want to be defined by now is chief advocate for America’s broadcasters. The issues that we face are many, and I know that there are challenges ahead. But with input from our leadership and our members, we will focus on growing our strengths, improving our weaknesses and always serving as the premier advocate for America’s radio and television stations.
“One of our great strengths is the value that we provide as free, over-the-air broadcasting. And we must continue to drive the rollout of innovative platforms to deliver your content and demonstrate the great possibilities of radio and television
“Charles spoke about the Radio Heard Here campaign and building a strong future for radio by embracing new technologies. And we’re moving forward with these many initiatives like FM capable cell phones, HD Radio and Internet streaming.
“These are all very exciting opportunities and it’s really encouraging to see radio come together and innovate in this digital age. And while I know this is a radio crowd, there is also much to look forward to with the advent of digital television.
“There are many doors opening for television broadcasters with the acceleration and development of mobile digital television products and services. It’s amazing to think we will be able to watch live TV anywhere we are. Mobile digital television will transform the way we watch television.
“Advances in technology are giving broadcasters opportunities to find better, more innovative ways to deliver the high-quality content and services that local communities expect and deserve. The ability of broadcasters to operate in a marketplace free of unnecessary regulation will only help to accelerate the development of new broadcast technologies.
“You will be hearing more from me about these issues in the months ahead, so stay tuned.
“It is exciting to see that broadcasters have their eyes on the future, and there are strong plans today to build a stronger tomorrow. I know that many of you are trying hard to survive in this challenging economy. I know it hasn’t been easy. But even in these difficult times, you are still there for your communities---always there to assist and provide a lifeline during times of crisis.
“That is something you should all be proud of. And that’s one of the many reasons I’m proud to be here standing among you today.
“This is a strong industry with a bright future. And I am very excited to be a part of it. It is not only an honor to stand here among you--it is also an inspiration. Thank you for having me here today. I look forward to serving as your president and CEO and can’t wait to get started.”
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