National Association of Broadcasters

National Association of Broadcasters
Logo of the National Association of Broadcasters.
NAB headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is a trade association, workers union, and lobby group representing the interests of for-profit, over-the-air radio and television broadcasters in the United States. The NAB represents more than 8,300 terrestrial radio and television stations as well as broadcast networks.

As of November 1, 2009, the president and CEO of the NAB is Gordon Smith, a former United States Senator from Oregon.[1]



The NAB was founded in 1922 at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. The association's founder and first president was Eugene F. McDonald Jr., who also launched the Zenith corporation.

Commercial radio

The NAB worked to establish a commercial radio system in the United States. The system was set up in August 1928 with the establishment of General Order 40 — a radio reallocation scheme by the Federal Radio Commission which awarded the choicest frequencies and broadcast times to the then-emerging commercial radio industry. In the wake of General Order 40, a loose coalition of educators, nonprofit broadcasters, labor unions, and religious groups coalesced to oppose the NAB and their allies through the 1920s and 1930s, and to develop a public, nonprofit, license-funded radio system without commercials (similar to what happened with the BBC). The coalition claimed that the commercial industry would only promote profitable programming, thereby reducing the quality and future potential of radio broadcasting.

Not having the political connections, resources, or publicity of the NAB and the commercial radio industry, the non-profit coalition eventually lost the fight with the passage of the Communications Act of 1934.[2]

Satellite radio

Many satellite radio enthusiasts have criticized the NAB for lobbying against legislation approvals for those services. The NAB protested the FCC's approval of both satellite radio services in the United States — XM and Sirius — and furthermore criticized the 2008 merger of the two companies, calling the merged company a "potential monopoly".[3]

White space

The NAB has lobbied against the use of white spaces, unused broadcast spectrum lying between broadcast channels, for wireless broadband internet and other digital use. The NAB has claimed that use of white space will interfere with existing broadcast spectrum, even though tests by the Federal Communications Commission at levels far stronger than that being advocated for in policy circles have not supported such claims.[4] Indeed, the FCC has recommended the use of white spaces for broadband and other digital use.[5] In 2011 the NAB funded an advertising campaign titled "The Future of TV"[6], advocating for the private ownership of the spectrum, framed as a threat to free television.

Similar organizations

Organization similar to the NAB exist in individual U.S. states, including Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GAB) in Georgia, and the Illinois Broadcasters Association (IBA), in Illinois. In Canada, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) has a similar role.


NAB Convention Floor, Las Vegas, 2010

NAB's annual spring convention is the NAB Show. It typically draws over 100,000 industry professionals.[7] NAB also manages the NAB Radio Show which is held each autumn and draws over 3,000 radio professionals. At the 2010 and 2011 NAB shows, popular technology included stereoscopic video and editing software - a demand inspired by James Cameron's Avatar; point-of-view cameras, and DSLR cameras boasting shallow Depth of Field. Other strides in nonlinear editing technology included archival film restoration, digital audio mixing improvements, motion stabilization of hand-held footage and rotoscoping with one click.

Notable NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame Inductees

Year Television Radio
2008 Bob Barker Larry Lujack
2007 Meet the Press Rick Dees
2006 Regis Philbin Dick Purtan
2005 The Tonight Show Jack Buck
2004 Roger King Mormon Tabernacle Choir "Music and the Spoken Word"
2003 Walt Disney anthology television series Scott Shannon
2002 Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In Dick Orkin
2001 Ted Koppel "Cousin Brucie" Bruce Morrow
2000 Saturday Night Live Tom Joyner

NAB awards

The NAB presents several annual awards:

  • NAB Marconi Radio Awards, to the country's top radio stations and personalities
  • NAB National Radio Award, to an outstanding individual leader in the radio industry
  • NAB Crystal Radio Awards, to radio stations achieving excellence in community service


  1. ^ [1] 18 September, 2009 "NAB NAMES GORDON SMITH NEW PRESIDENT AND CEO"
  2. ^ "The Battle for the U.S. Airwaves, 1928-1935", in The Political Economy of Media: Enduring Issues, Emerging Dilemmas by Robert W. McChesney (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2008).
  3. ^ [2] 28 February 2007 testimony of NAB President David Rehr before US House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Task Force
  4. ^ [3] Tim Karr, "The NAB vs. Reality"
  5. ^ [4] Megan Tady, "A Win for White Spaces"
  6. ^ [5]"The Future of TV"
  7. ^ The NAB Show website

External links

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