Gordon Smith dances carefully on PRA issue


In his official opening remarks for the 2010 Radio Show, NAB President & CEO Gordon Smith played up the advantages of getting FM radio chips into cell phones, which is now included in discussions on a possible compromise on the Performance Rights Act (PRA). But Smith noted opposition within the radio industry to giving any ground on PRA and insisted that no deal has been struck.

“Clearly, the inclusion of radio in cell phones is a win-win situation for consumers, radio and manufacturers. So, how do we ensure all cell phones are radio ready? As you know, this issue has been part of our performance tax discussions with musicFIRST – the group that represents artists, record labels and unions. Our goal in entering into discussions was to shape a better outcome for the industry. And despite good faith discussions, we remain strongly opposed to the Performance Rights Act pending in Congress,” Smith told the gathering in Washington, DC.

“With your help, we have been successful thus far in staving off the Performance Rights Act in the House and Senate. And while this is an ongoing battle, NAB and radio broadcasters are in a strong position, due in large part to the grassroots efforts of our member stations. Because we are in a position of strength, we have been able to have a constructive dialogue with the other side. While potential terms have been discussed, there is no agreement yet. But we have brought these terms to the industry for your feedback. We appreciate those who have taken the time to call and email with your support, concerns and questions,” Smith reassured NAB members.

“We’ve received a lot of good feedback. Many of you support our discussions…but there are also many of you who believe we should continue fighting as hard as we can. And still others who remain undecided and have a lot of questions. We welcome hearing all of your views and thoughts on this. We know this is eliciting many strong feelings – and that’s not surprising. The outcome impacts the long-term success of radio – that’s our future,” Smith said.

In his own remarks at the opening of the first joint RAB-NAB Radio Show, RAB President and CEO Jeff Haley said he had seen confidence returning to the radio industry as business improves – comparing it to the confidence he saw in his teenage son’s football team when they finally won a game after an 0-10 season last year. “And I thought of Radio because we too are winning and we have our confidence back. For too long we have suffered from the inequity of time spent with Radio by our listeners at 29% of their media time compared to investment by advertisers at 10% of their budgets. The great rebound from this recession has also been a reset on advertiser spending – we are up 6% — all media up 3%,” he said.

“When your growth is double that of the rest of the field you are winning. We are winning in Radio this year and it feels pretty good!” Haley said.