How the mighty have fallen: A post about the National Association of Broadcasters

Posted by Mitchell - June 11, 2009 (entry 626)

The National Association of Bastards Broadcasters -- the main trade lobby on behalf of U.S. commercial radio and television broadcasters, and which has a lot to answer for -- ranked among the most powerful and feared lobbies in Washington, but there are signs that its influence is waning, mightily. Consider:

(1) Acting FCC chair Michael Copps has now been openly pushing for shorter broadcast license terms (from 8 years to 3 years), which is a good start. Like a bunch of crybabies, the NAB complained, whining that "Congress wisely reformed license renewal terms to allow broadcasters to better compete against our pay platform competitors," [even though license renewals are a patent sham and have only been pulled twice in American history], and that "Reducing a broadcaster's term of license would actually harm localism by injecting greater uncertainty into a business model facing the worst advertising downturn in decades." [even though anything construing localism has been gutted by a neoliberal business model that has nothing to do with a crap economy]. Of course, it's not like CMA is biased or anything.

(2) David Rehr, the teetotalling beer lobbyist who was head of the NAB in recent years, abruptly resigned from the NAB in early May 2009. Rehr's reign has elicited negative commentary from industry types, where the NAB made a number of questionable and backfiring strategic choices under his thumb.

(3) Last week, the NAB lost a key lawsuit where they challenged the legitimacy of FCC authority to help manage low power FM radio stations. The NAB got duly slapped around. Congrats to our friends in the LPFM movement and our lawyer friends for this important win. John Anderson remarks: "The NAB is not the well-connected political juggernaut that it was close to a decade ago."

(4) The coup de grace: On June 12, all high-powered analog television ceases, and the NAB may well feel the brunt of criticism of problems that result in the conversion. The non-broadcast corporate media has been paying attention finally, and if this article is any indication, they may well be slammed as obsolete fuddy-duddies whose time has come and gone. The NAB still has mighty influences, but given the confluence of all these events and certainly more to come, might the NAB suffer something like a death of a thousand cuts?

UPDATE: TVNewsday reports that Meredith Broadcasting Group President Paul Karpowicz is elected president of the NAB Television Board.

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