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Chris Jones

Indecency To Be Hot Debate Topic At Broadcasters Expo

19 April 2004

When members of the international broadcasting community gathered in Las Vegas last April for the National Association of Broadcasters' 2003 convention, their industry was largely focused on the United States' then-new war against Iraq.

This time around, the calendar has changed -- and in many ways so have NAB's hot-button issues.

Terror concerns and the war in Iraq continue to occupy the media's attention, though those topics will surely share time at this year's event with talk of what recently made its way out of Janet Jackson's blouse or Howard Stern's mouth.

"Indecency, or the responsible programming issue that is hot in Washington right now, is going to be a hot issue" at this year's NAB show, Stacy Perrus, spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based association, said Friday. "We've got plenty of programming addressing that topic ... and will give people a platform whose views don't necessarily agree with those of our association. It just depends on the issues our industry is facing."

Other big issues at this year's show will include the nation's transition to high-definition television standards, the expansion of broadband telecommunications and Internet services, and the motion picture industry's transition to all-digital cinemas.

Since its first convention took place in New York in 1923, the association has regularly gathered its members at trade shows that provide a forum where those in the global electronic media can network, discuss the issues and check out the latest technologies.

More than 90,000 attendees and nearly 1,400 exhibitors are expected to attend the 2004 event, which opens its conference schedule today and will open its exhibition show floor Monday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The show will end Thursday.

This year's speaker lineup includes a Monday keynote session with talk show icon Oprah Winfrey and Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina.

NAB 2004 also includes a Tuesday breakfast session with ABC news veteran Sam Donaldson and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell, whose Super Bowl halftime show-inspired crackdown on broadcast contest has drawn both praise and criticism, including frequent attacks on Stern's syndicated radio show after San Antonio-based Clear Channel Radio in February pulled his show from several U.S. radio markets amid allegations of vulgar content.

A seven-person panel will also discuss Tuesday how new technologies will allow broadcasters to mix and match advertising content using video-on-demand, digital video disks, wireless devices and the Internet.

Though much of the show is industry-specific, the public can attend NAB 2004 by purchasing an exhibition-only pass for $200.