Rehr Appears in Line to Lead NAB

Sep 14, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The National Association of Broadcasters is reportedly close to naming David Rehr, a partisan Republican who is currently president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association, as the organization’s new president and CEO. Sources said Wednesday that the NAB is close to deciding on Mr. Rehr even though the move is expected to irritate Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. “It’s viewed on the Hill as a bizarre choice,” a source close to Sen. Stevens said.

Sources said Sen. Stevens has made clear that he wants NAB to hire Mitch Rose, a former Stevens aide who is now a lobbyist for The Walt Disney Co., to succeed Eddie Fritts as NAB’s president and CEO. But Mr. Rehr is said to have won particularly strong backing from Citadel Communications CEO Phil Lombardo, one of the NAB search committee’s co-chairmen.

Among Mr. Rose’s advantages over Mr. Rehr, according to Mr. Rose’s backers, is that Mr. Rose has actually worked for years on media industry issues on Capitol Hill, while Mr. Rehr is a stranger to the broadcasting business. Mr. Rose is also said to enjoy the support of key Democrats, including Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, the Senate Commerce Committee’s ranking minority member.

As chairman of the committee with broadcast industry oversight, Sen. Stevens has considerable say on issues critical to broadcasters, including indecency and whether to legislate to require cable TV operators to carry all of the signals broadcasters multicast on their digital TV channels.

“A very unusual and perplexing choice,” the source close to Sen. Stevens said of Mr. Rehr. Mr. Lombardo did not return telephone calls.

Dennis Wharton, an NAB spokesman, said: “Until there’s a selection, NAB is not commenting.”