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NAB's Smith Stays Positive In Senate Pitch

Promotes bright future for broadcast; says, generally video reg framework is not broken

National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith accentuated the positive in his prepared testimony for the May 14 state of video hearing, a copy of which was obtained by B&C/Multichannel News.

Although cable operator efforts to get the FCC to "reform" retrans and broadcaster battles with DISH and Aereo over their respective TV station signal delivery services will almost certainly be topics of conversation, Smith focuses instead on the value he says broadcasters continue to bring to the video equation.

Those include delivering diverse programming free to 54 million Americans now relying solely on over-the-air television.

Citing a GfK Media report, he says that the economic downturn, the rise in MVPD prices and new broadcast options--multicasting--and technology--HDTV, TV anywhere--have "led consumers to embrace broadcast television.

But he also pointed out that broadcasters hug back. "[B]roadcasters are committed to providing a valuable public service to every community - big and small - across our great nation," he said, saying it was at the heart of what the business was all about.

"We reinvest in our communities and are there when our viewers need us most. It is a public good that cannot be replaced. I would ask that you, as policymakers, ensure that changes to laws and regulations do not harm this unique and crucial local television broadcasting system," he says.

Smith does refer briefly to pay TV providers pushing for "dismantling the legal framework for programming distribution." He does not identify any of the laws he says are being assailed, but does say that "changing these laws is not in the public's best interest and will do nothing more than pick winners and losers in what is today a very competitive marketplace."

The hearing is the second in a series of "state of" hearings on various communications issues under new chairman Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)