NAB Notes: Convention Attendance Up Slightly From Last Year

May 1, 2006  •  Post A Comment

This year’s National Association of Broadcasters convention drew 105,046 attendees, up less than 1 percent from 2005, NAB said. The conference posted a 9 percent increase in foreign attendance, drawing 25,537 people from outside the U.S., the group said. In addition, press attendance was 1,294 at this year’s meeting, up by 179 from 2005. The association said more than 1,440 exhibitors showcased their wares over 860,000 square feet of exhibit space this year, up over 2005 in both amount of floor space and numbers of exhibitors

Broadcasters Revel in Retrans Reform Defeat

Broadcasters celebrated a legislative victory when word broke that Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., failed in his effort to reform rules that allow broadcasters to seek payment from satellite and cable companies for carrying broadcast TV signals. The lawmaker had planned to attach the so-called retransmission consent reform measure to House legislation that would make it easier for phone companies to get into the pay TV business. He withdrew his amendment after it became clear that he lacked sufficient supporting votes on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

NAB President and CEO David Rehr attributed the withdrawal to concerted broadcast industry opposition, which he was rallying during the convention. “NAB thanks thousands of radio and TV broadcasters and the 50 state association executives who weighed in … on this issue of critical importance to free, over-the-air television’s future,” Mr. Rehr said in a statement.

Still, retransmission consent reform supporters were taking comfort in the fact that Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, the committee’s chairman, has agreed to hold a committee roundtable discussion on the retransmission rules.

Bush Renominates FCC’s Martin for New Term

Shortly after addressing the convention, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin was given reason to celebrate as well. President Bush renominated Mr. Martin for a new five-year term at the agency. Mr. Martin’s current term expires June 30.

Dan Rather’s Words of Wisdom

Former CBS anchor Dan Rather, who was in Las Vegas to receive NAB’s Distinguished Service Award, told reporters that his successor, Katie Couric, will succeed if she does a couple of key things. “If Katie Couric comes to CBS News and demonstrates that she is a leader and she loves the news, she will be just fine,” Mr. Rather said.

Mr. Rather shared this year’s Distinguished Service Award with NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings, who anchored for ABC News.

Rothenberg Dispenses Political Predictions

Consumers’ dissatisfaction with the political status quo could translate into the Democrats’ winning control of the House in this year’s elections, Stuart Rothenberg, CNN commentator and editor and publisher of “The Rothenberg Political Report,” told conventioneers. Even if the Democrats don’t take the House, they are likely to increase their margins in the House and Senate. The political atmosphere on Capitol Hill, already “radioactive,” is “going to be really nasty,” he said.

That means little legislation will move in the two years before the 2008 presidential elections, he added.

For the presidential election, the leading contender for the Democrats is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Mr. Rothenberg said. But he said that Democrats may end up drafting somebody else, such as former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, due to concerns about Ms. Clinton’s “electability.”

For Republicans, the nation’s mood is “setting up perfectly” for a run by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Mr. Rothenberg said. Sen. McCain’s chief competitors will be Sen. George Allen, R-Va., and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, he predicted.

Regis Philbin Feels the Love

Regis Philbin received a little extra tribute upon being inducted into NAB’s Hall of Fame. In introducing the longtime TV talk-show host during the association’s TV luncheon, NAB President and CEO David Rehr revealed that his mother had been a huge fan of Mr. Philbin-and had even come to regard him as a personal friend when she was dying of cancer.

“Thank you from a grateful son,” Mr. Rehr said.