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NAB 2009: Recession ‘Isn’t Stopping Us’

NAB 2009: Complete Coverage from Broadcasting & Cable

NAB President/CEO David Rehr told the crowd at the opening NAB session in Las Vegas that, while the toxic economy presents considerable challenges for broadcasters, there’s also great opportunity. The unfailingly upbeat face of the NAB cited the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC) and the 800 stations working together to get live video streaming on some 140 mobile devices across the country.

Rehr mentioned the 66 stations about to launch the test. “Television broadcasters are moving TV beyond the bedroom, living room or kitchen. That means watching Lost on your handheld media player or Heroes on your cell phone,” he said. “That means anywhere you are, you can access the news or your favorite shows. That's our future.”

The session at the Las Vegas Hilton featured a high-flying airplane theme, and Rehr took the stage to a bone-rattling soundtrack. While broadcasting is increasingly challenged to be relevant in the digital world, Rehr said the brand equity TV stations have built over the decades will do well to promote their digital products. “We can drive users to our products on line,” he said. “Every industry is going through tough times, but not many are as well positioned to succeed as we are.”

Rehr also took heart in the 7% growth in TV viewing since 2000, and was happy to remind attendees that, despite new media’s buzz, 99% of video is watched on television.

After he’d concluded, Rehr and former Belo boss Jack Sander presented a distinguished service award to Mary Tyler Moore for her stellar television career and her work on juvenile diabetes research.

Rehr then surrendered the stage to keynoter Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class. Striking a more professorial tone than actor/filmmaker Tim Robbins did in his firebrand speech a year before, Florida echoed Rehr’s sentiments about miserable economic times spawning great innovation. He credited attendees for the intellectual capital they bring to their content. He suggested the 40 million Americans inhabiting what he calls the “creative class” in America would continue to parlay their creativity into game-changing innovation.

“They are—we are—the economic engine of our time,” said Florida

Michael Malone
Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.