By Hannah Osborne
As 2023 drew to a close, the Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GAB) rounded out another great year of advocacy with a trip to Washington D.C.
GAB President, Bob Houghton, traveled to Washington D.C. to take part in one of the two annual meetings of the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Association (NASBA), in which he served as the immediate past president of the NASBA executive committee.
The early December window was an opportunity for the committee to meet, as well as, provide orientation to new state association executives. At this year’s meeting six state executives went through the orientation, including the GAB’s own Mary Hare, representing Georgia.
The recent confirmation of Anna Gomez as the fifth Commissioner of the FCC has provided the panel with a Democratic majority for the first time since President Biden has taken office. Due to this the committee expects the Commission to take action on many items in the coming year.
Broadcasters from across the nation joined to discuss pertinent issues and updates in the industry. Curtis LeGeyt, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), provided an update; Sam Matheny, executive vice president and chief technology officer of the NAB discussed technology updates with the group; and Nate Mann, Vice President of Industry Affairs, spent time with the broadcasters discussing A.I.
Houghton noted that in Mann’s discussion of A.I. it was encouraged for broadcasters to accept A.I. rather than shy away from it. The first step towards harnessing the technology as a power of good is getting involved in the enhancement of the technology.
“It will make us money and save us money, so I think that the first stage is acceptance and gaining the strategy to it,” Houghton gathered from the presentation.
Mann’s presentation provided Houghton with reassurance that A.I. is not something for broadcasters to fear, but to embrace. It is still best to tread with caution when it comes to using the technology and continue fact checking and proofing all products that A.I. generates. Houghton expects that A.I. will continue to be a topic of further discussion at the 2024 State Leadership Conference in March.
- State Leadership Conference is a major upcoming event in which the GAB will travel with 15 of its members to Washington D.C. to sit down and talk with all 16 members of Congress from Georgia. This is a nationwide event, in total all 535 members of Congress and the Senate will be met with by broadcasters over a 2-day period. “It’s an important part of our advocacy that we do every year,” says Houghton. Topics that broadcasters will continue to advocate for on Capitol Hill this upcoming year are the A.M. Radio for Every Vehicle Act, the Local Radio Freedom Act and more. Houghton commends the continued positive progression of the A.M. Radio for Every Vehicle Act and highlights the bi-partisan nature of the bill. It is encouraged for all broadcasters to reach out to their local representatives to either thank them for their support of the bill or remind them to sign on. Currently the bill boasts the support of 43 of the necessary 51 Cosponsors from the Senate and 195 of the necessary 218 Cosponsors from the House. Most recently from Georgia, Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia’s 11th District has cosponsored the bill.
- In April broadcasters will travel to Las Vegas for the NAB Show. The unofficial theme for the 2024 show is the “Three Cs” being creativity, connection and collaboration and the “Three Is” being impact, inspire and innovate.
- In June, radio and television stations across the country will be honored for excellence in community service, philanthropy and impact at the “The Celebration of Service to America Awards.” The entry stage for the event is now open for entries. Most years, a Georgia stationed is among those honored.
Before leaving D.C. the GAB met with a member of government relations to discuss many of the topics covered over the course of the trip. This included when unanimous consent was sought for the A.M. Radio for Every Vehicle Act, but the bill was struck down. Before being struck down, co-sponsors Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) spoke on the bill, reflecting the bi-partisan nature of the legislation, and Sen. Ben Lujan (D-NM) gave a moving speech on the value of A.M. radio in the time of emergency.
Overall, Houghton, and other broadcasters, are pleased with the progress the bill has made since being introduced earlier this year.
As 2024 begins, Houghton and the staff at the GAB are prepared to continue its advocacy for broadcasters. It is imperative that the GAB takes on these efforts and continues to show up in Washington for broadcasters who are unable to make the trip to advocate for themselves. Focuses of the 2024 year will continue to be the A.M. Radio for Every Vehicle Act, the Local Radio Freedom Act, vMVPDs, A.I. and retention and recruitment.
The GAB encourages broadcasters to continue harnessing relationships with their local representatives so the interests of broadcasters are best represented in Washington.