National Association of Broadcasters

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National Association of Broadcasters

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is comprised of representatives of radio and television stations and networks. The NAB, which has a membership of 7,500, seeks to ensure the viability, strength, and success of free over-the-air broadcasters (companies that do not charge customers for service, as do cable and satellite television operators). It serves as an information resource to the industry, and it also lobbies the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for regulations favorable to the radio and television industry. The NAB is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with a staff of approximately 165 employees.

The organization was founded in 1922, when radio broadcasting was in its infancy. Founded as the National Association of Radio Broadcasters, it changed its name to the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters in 1951, when it absorbed the Television Broadcasters Association. In 1958 it changed its name to the National Association of Broadcasters. In 1985 it absorbed the Daytime Broadcasters Association, and in 1986 it absorbed the National Radio Broadcasters Association.

The NAB seeks to maintain a favorable legal, governmental, and technological climate for free over-the-air broadcasting. Its legal and regulatory department represents broadcasters before the FCC and other federal agencies, as well as before courts and other regulatory bodies. This department provides legal guidance to NAB members through "counsel memos," legal memoranda that identify and explain current legal issues for broadcasters.

The NAB opposes legislation that would require broadcasters to provide free air time to political candidates. In addition, it is opposed to discounting the commercial rates stations charge to candidates, contending that broadcasters now provide candidates with heavily discounted air time.

Because the NAB represents the interests of free over-the-air broadcasters, it has sought to protect the industry from the inroads made by cable and satellite television. For example, as TV viewers in rural areas began to buy home satellite equipment, Congress passed laws in 1988 and 1994, with the encouragement of the NAB, that restrict access to network programming sent by satellite only to those viewers who live outside the local market of over-the-air network affiliates. By 1997 satellite operators and the NAB were in court, because the NAB sought to end the practice of some operators who flout the law and provide network signals to satellite subscribers who are already served by their local network affiliates.

Aside from Lobbying and bringing legal actions, the NAB provides members with other benefits. Its research library contains ten thousand volumes, and its staff includes experts in science and technology and research and planning. For its members, the NAB publishes a monthly newsletter, NAB World, as well as the weekly publications RadioWeek and TV Today. The NAB annual spring convention is the world's largest showcase for broadcast, postproduction multimedia and Telecommunications hardware, software, and services. The convention draws more than 100,000 attendees.

In order to educate citizens in the United States about the principles of free speech and other topics concerning the industry, the NAB started the NAB Education Foundation. The foundation conducts research and education activities on issues such as First Amendment rights relating to program content, editorial opinions, and commercial speech. The foundation also provides economic data regarding advertiser-supported broadcasting, examines the impact of new technologies on the industry and the public, and seeks to train, with an emphasis on diversity, new leaders in the broadcasting field.

Further readings

National Association of Broadcasters. Available online at <www.nab.org> (accessed July 28, 2003).

Cross-references

Broadcasting; Telecommunications; Television.

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