NAB: Gordon Smith Takes Aim at Industry's Ruthless Adversaries
Says Google, Wiki turned piracy debate into censorship issue; cable/satellite ops don't want to pay fair share for programming
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/16/2012 1:39:04 PM EDT
Complete Coverage: 2012 NAB Show
NAB President Gordon Smith took aim at Google and Wiki on one hand and "some cable operators" on the other Monday in a speech to broadcasters about the ability of its "ruthless, smart and well-financed" adversaries/competitors.
Those appeared to include cable operators on the retrans front and the technology community on the content-protection front.
In a keynote speech to the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas Monday, Smith told his audience that Google and Wiki had taken a lesson from broadcasters' playbooks to "create a powerful megaphone to change forever how battles are won, or lost, inside the Beltway."
And while broadcasters had leveraged their power to protect TV stations in the spectrum auction debate, he suggested, the Googles and Wikis had used theirs to change the debate from "thou shalt not steal," to "do not censor the Internet."
That was a reference to the protests and pressure from Northern California Internet forces that helped kill two online piracy bills, SOPA (the Stop Online Protection Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) that had had bipartisan support on the Hill.
"The idea behind SOPA and PIPA was simple and straightforward: Don't steal our creative content," said Smith. "But it didn't matter. The technology community -- the Googles and Wikis -- used their medium just as we did -- to create a powerful megaphone to change forever how battles are won, or lost, inside the Beltway. Like us, they used every tool at their disposal to sway public opinion."
Smith said that TV stations "deserve to be allowed to negotiate for compensation of their highly-valued programming," a reference to the battle over cash-for-carriage retrans payments that have cable and satellite operators complaining to the FCC. He said those operators don't want to pay a fair price for local news and broadcast content that is the most popular fare on cable -- 95 of the top 100 shows on cable are broadcast retransmissions, he pointed out.
"The other side says the market is broken, but with nearly all retransmission consent deals being completed successfully, the cable and satellite lobby's notion of 'market failure' is simply false," he said.
"The current system is fair and benefits viewers. If it isn't broken, don't fix it."
He pledged to use every play in the playbook, including on Capitol Hill, in on-air ads and social media, to protect his members' interests.