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April 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Discontent was virtually palpable as the National Association of Broadcasters annual meeting got under way in Las Vegas. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski delivered a short speech to the convention repeating his call for broadcasters to relinquish spectrum in order to expand wireless broadband and for them to reveal the ad rates that they charge political broadcasters and disclose the names of the individuals and groups buying political ads — proposals being resisted by the broadcasters. He received polite applause and then left the stage without taking questions from his audience or from the press. Avatar/Titanic filmmaker James Cameron was supposed to provide some star power to the goings-on, but he simply touted a small 3D camera that has limited usage for most broadcasters — and also beat a hasty retreat. The convention center is crammed with displays of impressive — and costly — equipment aimed at broadcast and cable companies, but there were also displays of very low cost devices that connected to the Internet and produced similar — if not better — results. One veteran reporter commented in the newsroom, “Every year the Internet’s fifth column grows more threatening, and it’s like hardly anyone seems to notice. Or wants to notice.” In fact, however, NAB President Gordon Smith warned broadcasters that the wireless and mobile industries “want us out of the game” and warned his audience, never “let down our guard.” But he conceded that broadcasters had lost the battle over the SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy legislation earlier this year and gave no instructions on how such battles could be won in the future.