He was at the helm of the NAB when TV got both retrans and must-carry from Congress and later when radio won deregulation, so Eddie Fritts has lots of friends and fans across the broadcasting industry. He’s going to be honored for that long and successful leadership in April.
“For more than two decades, Eddie Fritts carried the banner for free and local broadcasting on Capitol Hill with integrity and distinction,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith, who now holds the post that Fritts had for 23 years. “Eddie helped put NAB on the map as an advocacy force in Washington, and his accomplishments on behalf of radio and television stations — and the listeners and viewers that we serve — will be felt for decades to come. I’m honored to follow in his footsteps as head of NAB, and we are thrilled to present him with the prestigious Distinguished Service Award,” said Smith.
Unlike Smith, a former US Senator, and former beer industry lobbyist David Rehr, who served between Fritts and Smith, Eddie Fritts was not a beltway insider when he became the head of NAB and spokesman for broadcasters in Washington. Rather, he was a veteran broadcaster who sold his Mississippi station group to take the lobbying position.
NAB Joint Board Chairman Steve Newberry called Fritts “a remarkable leader and a relentless champion for over-the-air broadcasting. His bipartisan bridge-building on Capitol Hill and string of legislative victories stand as a testament to Eddie’s understated Southern charm and advocacy skills.”
After leaving the NAB, Fritts launched The Fritts Group in 2006 where he continues his work in Washington as a political consultant offering strategic counsel to clients in the areas of government relations, international affairs and public relations. Eddie Fritts will receive the NAB Distinguished Service Award during the opening keynote session of the NAB Show on April 11 in Las Vegas.
RBR-TVBR observation: What can we say about Eddie that hasn’t already been said? He may not have been an insider when he arrived in DC, but he certainly learned quickly and became one of the best known and successful lobbyists the town ever saw. Somehow he also managed to continue to be a nice guy.