NAB Reviewing Its Focus, Effectiveness

Jan 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

The National Association of Broadcasters has quietly launched a series of strategic planning retreats to beef up the organization’s effectiveness.
One of the key objects of the behind-the-scenes navel gazing, according to sources: Determining whether to woo the TV networks back to the NAB membership ranks.
“One of the issues you have to look at is the fact that the networks are no longer members,” said Phil Lombardo, NAB joint board chairman and CEO of Citadel Communications. “Is that something that needs to be corrected going forward?”
The Big 4 TV networks all bailed out of NAB over the past several years, because the association, under orders from its affiliate-dominated board, was lobbying against a network effort to raise the cap on national TV ownership to clear the way for them to buy more stations.
With the networks out of the fold, NAB’s prestige and effectiveness have suffered in Washington, largely because it can’t claim to represent all of the industry when four of the industry’s biggest players are not on board.
Under compromise legislation that is expected to be approved later this month, the cap would be permanently set at 39 percent.
At least according to some industry sources, resolution of the cap could put to rest one of the major issues that has divided the networks and their affiliates, at least offering the opportunity for reconciliation.
Mr. Lombardo, who is credited for the think sessions, said no decisions on the many issues under consideration are expected before the NAB’s regular June board meeting.
Key NAB board members have already convened for two strategic-planning sessions and several more are planned before summer, under the leadership of a professional facilitator.
Among the industry executives who have already addressed the NAB planning sessions is Marty Franks, executive VP, CBS Television.