Broadcasters Losing Fritts As NAB Chief

Washington— The National Association of Broadcasters is looking for new leadership after longtime president Edward Fritts told the group’s board last Wednesday that he intends to step down at some point in the months ahead, although no specific date was given.

Fritts, 64, became the NAB’s president in 1982 and produced a string of legislative and regulatory victories, including mandatory cable carriage in 1992 and radio deregulation in 1996.

The NAB also defeated attempts by the Federal Communications Commission to launch a low-power FM radio service that broadcasters argued would cause interference with incumbent stations.

Although still a potent force, the NAB lost political clout due to internal divisions, particularly when the independent affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox decided to wage war against their networks, causing the “Big Four” to march out of an organization considered one of the most powerful in Washington, D.C.

In a statement, Fritts did not directly refer to network-affiliate problems, although he did tell the board “that NAB’s most important accomplishments have been the result of an industry that speaks with a single, unified voice.”