Issue: April 1, 2006


The National Association of Broadcasters defines itself as “a trade association that advocates on behalf of more than 8,300 free, local radio and television stations and also broadcast networks, before Congress, the FCC and the Courts.” The annual NAB show attracts as many as 100,000 attendees to Las Vegas every April for the purpose of checking out the latest in broadcast technologies. But, as anyone who frequents iTunes knows, the meaning of broadcasting is changing, and you no longer have to be a network or TV station to distribute content.

Stacy Perrus, NAB’s marketing communications director, acknowledges that the organization is looking foward, beyond traditional broadcasting. This year, NAB will feature the “next generation content delivery showcase,” a pavilion that Perrus says is “designed to expand NAB’s reach into a whole new area.” Exhibitors will include the likes of Verizon, Nokia, Qualcomm and others, showing products for IPTV, interactive TV, gaming and forms of new media.

“It’s not just us trying to grab new attendees,” she says of the effort. “We have to keep up to date with what’s going on. Kids are multitasking and broadcasters have to keep up with trends in order to attract the younger generation’s market share.”

Filmmaker Randall Dark is a regular NAB attendee who also sees the broadcast model changing. “I think the business model for broadcasters in 10 years is going to change dramatically,” says Dark. “We’re not going to have three networks dictating what you’re going to watch and when you’re going to watch it.” Dark also believes the :30 spot will lose its relevance and that broadcasters will have to look for revenue elsewhere, perhaps through product placement.

AlphaDogs principal Terry Curren regularly attends NAB as well, and says that while the Web and products like the iPod are influential, broadcasters will still be creating content — like Desperate Housewives — on a high-quality format, even if it’s to be distributed to handheld devices.

“You’d be eliminating future revenue opportunities,” Curren says of content creators who might produce strictly for broadband delivery.

Perrus notes that while broadband is changing the face of broadcasting, NAB as an organization “will always represent free, over-the-air broadcasters.” Still, she says, “it is necessary to look at other opportunities.”