Rehr sees challenges and opportunities


“We will leave no TV set behind,” declared NAB President David Rehr, noting that his speech yesterday in Las Vegas might be his last opportunity to address many TV broadcasters before analog television broadcasting is shut down next February. But he noted that along with challenges come opportunity for new digital services. That applies to radio as well, with the first mention of a “Radio Heard Here” campaign to be launched today at the NAB Radio luncheon. Rehr said that there is still a lot to do on HD Radio, “but we are certainly headed in the right direction.”

Rehr began his pep talk by expressing concerns that some broadcasters seem to be gloomy about their own future. “Every morning there is a new challenge and a new opportunity ahead. But broadcasters, and you know this, broadcasters can be a bit of a cynical bunch. And I’m afraid, that some people in this business have been staring so long at the door that’s closing, they haven’t seen the new door that’s opening. The digital door.

If we don’t believe in ourselves, how do we promote our future? How do we promote our business and our valuable content?” he said.

“The transition to DTV is NAB’s highest television priority,” declared the NAB boss. He noted that every station and network is involved in a campaign to educate every American about the fast-coming DTV transition. “We anticipate that each household will be exposed to a DTV message at least 642 times before February,” Rehr said.

And while the transition from analog to DTV is a big change, Rehr spoke of the new opportunities the change brings. “NAB is aggressively moving to get digital TV on cell phones, iPods, TV screens in cars, portable video players, laptop computers and more. That’s live TV on upwards of 345 million devices. That’s your favorite morning show live on your handheld device on the bus to work. That’s the baseball game keeping your boys quiet in the back seat of the car. That’s not missing a college basketball game during March Madness, because you can catch it on your cell phone,” he said.

In radio, Rehr referred back to the branding study that NAB commissioned last year. “We learned from our research that many listeners acknowledge that they take radio for granted precisely because it’s so pervasive. The public’s love of radio is still there, they just need to be reminded of it. We need to reignite that passion,” he said.

Rehr played up the promise of HD Radio and denounced the naysayers who said it would be too expensive or that too few stations would implement the new technology. “That attitude is changing. Ford, Mercedes, Volvo and BMW are just a few automakers that have made major announcements about offering HD Radio in their vehicles. And radio stations are stepping up to offer the programming to support new multicast channels of HD Radio. We still have a lot of work to do on this, but we are certainly headed in the right direction,” he declared.