NAB CEO Gordon Smith Addresses Smartphone Receivers, the Hybrid Future During Annual State of the Industry Address

National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon Smith

National Association of Broadcasters CEO Gordon Smith issued a deceptively simple challenge to his organization's members: Continue to innovate and find new ways to provide content to listeners on different platforms. Smith presented his annual State of the Industry address Monday morning at the 2013 NAB Show in Las Vegas.

Smith says he is optimistic about the future and broadcasters should be as well, because of how the industry has consistently been able to adapt to consumers' changing habits. “The time has come for us to unite in our embrace of new technology, and to realize the consequences if we don't. Our future lies in innovating and spurring technology that will deliver our highly valued content to any platform for generations to come.”

Talking about radio specifically, Smith discussed the potential for including radio receivers in smartphones, “Future radios in smartphones will combine over-the-air and online content for a rich, ‘hybrid radio’ experience that provides interactive enhancements, along with potential new revenue opportunities.”

He is referring to the chip included in the majority of all smartphones sold in the United States that could function as an AM/FM receiver and would allow consumers to listen to over-the-air broadcasts without going through their cellular network like a stream does, “and that is great news for radio listeners.” While used widely in Europe, in most American phones the chips are not active.

The NAB along with broadcasters like Emmis Communications Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Smulyan, have been lobbying the wireless industry to activate the chips in the US and recently scored a big victory when Sprint agreed to turn on the chips in several of their handsets.

Smith also talked about how the changing nature of in-car entertainment systems, “I have no doubt we will we continue to retain our rightful place in the automobile, and that we'll be offering not just AM, not just FM, not just HD, but an interactive, hybrid experience that gives our listeners more options than ever before.”

He believes that radio’s ability to offer great content at no cost to listeners continues to be the medium’s trump card, “we all know, it's very hard for paid services to compete with free.”

You can read the full text of Smith's address here.

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