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Shapiro on Fritts: 'Challenging Adversary'

Consumer Electronics Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro Thursday credited outgoing National Association of Broadcasters president Eddie Fritts with turning the NAB into one of the town's most powerful lobbies.

Fritts has announced his planned retirement after more than 20 years atop the association.

But while he praised Fritts as a "trustworthy colleage and challenging adversary" whose association "succeeded in almost every major policy effort they undertook," Shapiro also took the opportunity to point out that NAB had failed to secure digital multicast must-carry, and to chide broadcasters for not standing up to the FCC on indecency.

The two associations also sparred over how best to promote the DTV rollout.

That chicken-and-egg battle has pitted broadcasters, who argue that more sets with integrated DTV tuners would drive the transition, against equipment manufacturers, who argue that without the compelling content, they would be investing in sets few people would be buying.

CEA has also weighed in on the side of  "fair use" copying rights for digital content (CEA members make copying devices like DVRs), while broadcasters' chief concern is protecting their digital broadcasts from easy piracy.