Was National Association of Broadcasters head David Rehr humming the Box Tops’ version of “The Letter?” My guess is that it was the Arbors' cover.
Rehr spent Wednesday and Thursday firing off letters to President George W. Bush, the FCC, and the Senate Commerce Committee.
Let’s go straight to Rehr’s letter to Bush.
It was in response to a question asked of him earlier in the week, when he was visiting Opryland in Nashville.
The major labels, which all have Nashville offices, sent their minions to a press conference in hopes of tricking our Commander-in-Chief, into delivering a pro-music biz soundbite.
One of the label weasels got to ask whether he believed artists should be paid royalties for radio airplay.
Being unfamiliar with the issue Bush replied, “Help! Maybe you've never had a President say this? I have, like, no earthly idea what you're talking about. Sounds like we're keeping interesting company, you know? Look, I'll give you the old classic: contact my office, will you?”
That one got Rehr’s blood fire-brewed like a Stroh’s.
Bush added, “I like listening to country music, if that helps.”
Except the Dixie Chicks.
Rehr’s letter was to familiarize Bush on his battle with the major label’s lobby group, the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) against their proposed statutory “performance right” royalty to artists that would force radio to pay for music played on the radio.”
Rehr wrote, “On behalf of the 6,900 radio station members of the NAB, I am writing to ask that you oppose this effort. Not only would this new performance tax upend the longstanding mutually beneficial business relationship that exists today between record labels, recording artists and broadcasters, but it would have a serious financial impact on broadcasters that could affect their ability to serve their local markets."
Stop right there.
Did he really think that Bush would understand the gist of his letter?
You can hear Bush’s response.
Rehr’s next epistle – five pages long - went to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. He urged the FCC not to support a merger between rival XM and Sirius satellite radio companies.
Among other things, he accused XM and Sirius of basing “their merger on a public relations campaign, slogans over substance, (and) promises without proof.”
Regardless of where one stands on this merger issue, the NAB’s just as guilty of slogan’s run as satellite radio.
Wasn’t it Rehr’s group that came up with, Sirius + XM = Monopoly – Do the Math, Hollow Promises, and Merger to Monopoly, among others?
In fact, he had to be cautioned. Rehr, who used to head the National Beer Wholesalers Association, wanted to use these slogans:
When you say terrestrial, you said it all.
For all you do, this terrestrial radio is for you.
Where there’s life, there’s terrestrial radio.
Terrestrial radio- It won’t slow you down.
If you got the time, we’ve got the terrestrial radio.
Terrestrial radio – it doesn’t get any better than this.
Proving why he’d never make a good copywriter, Rehr said of the merged satellite company’s plans to offer its format channels a la carte, “These new concessions are nothing more than a shameless attempt to curry the favor of the government regulators.”
He added, "No matter what promises Sirius and XM may offer, they are not sufficient to overcome the resulting harms to consumers when a monopoly is created by the Commission. In addition, XM and Sirius’ track record at the Commission shows that such promises are hollow because in pursuit of their own self-interest, XM and Sirius are willing to bend the law and reinterpret any promises to suit themselves instead of the American public."
Memo to David Rehr: The last time I checked the NAB had one of the strongest PACs on Capitol Hill.
Rehr’s best line was, “The merger parties’ argument that satellite radio and local radio are interchangeable is nonsense. If the two services were truly substitutable products, why would anyone pay $12.95 a month if they could get what they want free from local radio stations?”
The fact is they can’t.
And David, did you have to mention that there are those who are so fed up with terrestrial radio that they’re willing to plunk down x-amount of dollars for a satellite radio receiver and pay the monthly thirteen buck fee?
Doesn’t that say there’s a need for their service?
Someone’s got to proof read the boy. Either that or Rehr ought to stay off the suds until after he writes these letters.
Does he still get free samples from the beer companies he used to rep?
We now move on to his third letter. This one, to the Senate Commerce Committee, was an attempt to defend the so-far botched task to inform the public on its analog-to-digital (HD) TV transition.
Congress allocated $5 million to launch the campaign. The Einsteins at the FCC, NAB, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administrator are collaborating on the project.
Is that too many cooks or too many kooks?
Those not PAC’d by the NAB in Congress believe that TV viewers are neither prepared nor aware of the analog-to-digital switch that takes place on February. 17, 2009.
The SCC claims 60 percent of the public are not aware of the looming transition.
The NAB prefers to call them plebeians.
Their campaign snubs the elderly, poor, and non-English speaking citizens - those least likely to know of the change.
A 2005 Government Accountability Office report revealed that over 20 million U.S. households rely solely on over-the-air television and forty percent of those households include at least one person over 50.
"The time to act is now; before the digital transitions devolve into a digital disaster," said Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, (D- Hawaii), the committee chair. "We must work together to ensure that no citizen is left behind in the transition to digital television."
Inouye should’ve said, “Get the hacks out of the way!”
Non-digital TVs will require converter boxes once TV stations drop analog broadcasts entirely.
Rehr’s response was, “I get a little frustrated sometimes when people stand up and tell us all the things we should be doing.”
Testy, aren't we?
He called his analog-to-digital TV info campaign a “Herculean effort.”
Frail is more like it.
Credit Rehr for one thing. He resisted the temptation to mention HD Radio in his missives.
Maybe he’s come to grips with the fact that it’s the biggest stiff he’s seen since the beer industry tried to market fruit-flavored beer a few years back.
Like HD Radio, that product was such a stiff that chances are you never even heard of it.
Seems like there’s a lot of that going around.
Rehr’s letter to Bush: http://www.nab.org/xert/corpcomm/pressrel/releases/072507_DKR_Bush_PerformanceTax.pdf
Rehr’s letter to the FCC: http://www.nab.org/xert/corpcomm/pressrel/releases/072507_DKR_Martin_XMSIRI.pdf
Rehr’s letter to Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and the Senate Commerce Committee: http://www.nab.org/xert/corpcomm/pressrel/releases/072507_SenCommDTV.pdf