To say this has been a difficult year is an understatement. Together we have faced the challenges of a pandemic, civil unrest, a movement to right social injustice and equity, hurricanes, wildfires and more. Many companies have been stretched to the limit, forced to make difficult decisions that impact the lives of our employees. Yet through it all, broadcasters have remained committed to the core mission of serving our local communities and the NAB’s executive committee, board and staff have continued to protect your interests in Washington, D.C. Most importantly, despite a brief health scare, we are all grateful that Senator Gordon Smith has made a full recovery and continues to lead the organization. Under the leadership of Gordon and COO Curtis LeGeyt, your national association continues to successfully advocate for you. I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the important work that is being done on your behalf.
NAB continues to fight for additional COVID stimulus relief for broadcasters, including expansion of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and directing federal ad dollars to local stations. As a result, more than 120 lawmakers have written to congressional leadership or sponsored legislation in support of expanded PPP eligibility for local broadcasters, and over 300 lawmakers wrote to the Administration in support of increased federal advertising on local media. We are urging stations to ask their legislators to support the Local News and Emergency Information Act.
Throughout the pandemic, NAB has provided numerous resources for stations, including the Coronavirus Toolkit and Understanding the CARES Act, featuring a town hall meeting with the Small Business Administration.
NAB also secured regulatory relief for stations, from relaxing EEO requirements and coverage expansion to news sharing agreements and the lowest unit rate. We hosted a town hall with FCC officials that addressed broadcasters’ questions.
NAB spearheaded negotiations with the FCC to address political file noncompliance in the radio industry, helping radio members avoid significant monetary penalties.We share the stories of stations’ incredible service during the pandemic with legislators on a regular basis, including that broadcasters have donated more than $156 million in airtime to NAB’s coronavirus PSAs.
In addition to pandemic-related advocacy, a House subcommittee advanced legislation this spring covering a range of issues, including diversity tax certificate legislation, which NAB strongly supports. NAB also held a webinar to help stations understand how to file for reimbursement as the FCC prepares to reorganize C-band satellite spectrum.
July marked the official end of the multi-year broadcast spectrum repack and NAB’s TV Answers campaign. NAB prevented the Washington, D.C., Council from imposing a new ad tax that would hurt broadcasters. Gordon Smith and Executive Vice President and General Counsel Rick Kaplan were featured in a July Department of Justice workshop to explain the importance of ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. In a significant victory, NAB secured support from a majority of Congress on the Local Radio Freedom Act – legislation that opposes a performance tax. Curtis LeGeyt spoke about the harms of a performance tax before Congress earlier this year. NAB also began our work before the Copyright Royalty Board to address record companies’ attempts to raise streaming rates. A decision is expected in April 2021.
With an important election on the horizon, NAB has also provided tools stations need to encourage Americans to register to vote and engage in our democratic process.
While the pandemic prevented our annual gathering in Las Vegas, our virtual NAB Show Express held in May brought more than 40,000 industry professionals together. Our annual events, NAB Show New York, the Radio Show and the Sales and Management Television Exchange, will also take place online this fall. We are also launching NAB Amplify, a dynamic year-round digital platform designed to extend the impact of NAB Show throughout the year.
I was pleased that NAB named Leadership Foundation President Michelle Duke as its first chief diversity officer to spearhead internal efforts to further equity and inclusion and serve as a resource to NAB members to increase and promote industry diversity. The Foundation also unveiled a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resource Center to help broadcasters create conversation, change and opportunities within their stations.
For the first time, stations broadcast the Celebration of Service to America Awards, honoring stations’ unwavering commitment to giving back. NAB encouraged stations to #BroadcastGood on social media to amplify these stories to policymakers.
Through PILOT, NAB worked with Facebook and Google this spring to help broadcasters apply for journalism grant opportunities. We also provided free online cybersecurity courses for broadcasters to keep their stations safe. PILOT has also launched the annual Innovation Challenge to help broadcasters expand remote station operations. Broadcasters continue to work toward rolling out Next Generation TV, recently completing a Next Gen TV test suite for manufacturers. PILOT’s summer webinar series helps stations seeking to build out a Next Gen TV station.
Your team in Washington is hard at work, guided by our Board of Directors. I encourage you to stay up to date on NAB’s activities by subscribing to our newsletters, reading the NAB Blog or listening to our podcast. Next month, the board will convene again by Zoom to discuss how NAB can continue to advocate for stations during turbulent times. We greatly appreciate the trust you have put in this organization.