No political plans for NAB’s Gordon Smith


Gordon SmithOregon Republicans may miss Gordon Smith, who carried the Republican banner into the US Senate for two terms before losing a 2008 reelection bid. But he does not miss the political life enough to consider running for anything any time soon. That may be very good news for NAB.

Smith told the Oregonian that speculation that he was making the rounds a few years back in an effort to get back in the game was just wrong. He said instead that any appearances he made were more for expressing thanks and saying good-bye.

The reason? He really enjoys his new day job as President/CEO of NAB.

Additionally, he is doing high level work for his Mormon Church.

Smith did not rule out a future run for office, but he definitely left the impression that he is not giving it any serious thought at the moment.

The Republican Party in Oregon would love to have an individual of Smith’s stature to rally around – their lone member of Congress is Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), who often has occasion to invited Smith into his House Communications Subcommittee as a witness.

Other than that, there is no Republican in Washington nor is there one holding any statewide office. But they will have to develop somebody else as Smith continues to focus on his current pursuits.

RBR-TVBR observation: The natural tensions that exist within the National Association of Broadcasters – big market v. small market; conglomerate v. mom and pop; radio v. TV – can make it one of the most vexing associations to run. Sometimes big battles must be won behind the organization’s closed doors before it can even think about presenting a united front to the rest of Washington where it represents the interests of the industry.

So far it seems that Smith has done an exemplary job – we just do not ever hear any complaints.
We did hear a few when the NAB was in talks with the music industry, offering a trade of performance royalties for FM chips in cell phones. When word of that negotiation got out, there were lots of complaints about Smith buckling after decades of broadcasters successfully defending the free airtime/free promotion quid pro quo with the music industry that held a performance royalty requirement at bay.

The deal was derailed, but so too were efforts in Congress to impose the royalty via legislation.
Like any good card player, NAB and Smith haven’t revealed their motivations or strategies. All we can tell you is that whenever asked, Smith said he’s still open to further negotiation – and we have no reason not to take him at his word.

The bottom line is that with broadcasters under heavy legislative and regulatory assault on a number of fronts, we think they have a good man tending the goal.