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14 May 2020

NAB Show Express opens doors with a bang and a whimper

The long-awaited NAB Show Express unfortunately kicked off at an inconvenient time for Faultline’s weekly publishing schedule. It goes without saying that the industry would prefer to be showcasing and socializing under the razzle-dazzle of Las Vegas Boulevard, but the benefit of going virtual is having the pick of the bunch from hundreds of on-demand sessions – from which we’ll be putting out a bumper issue next week.


We did manage to catch the NAB Show Express welcome session delivered by NAB President and CEO, Gordon Smith, which felt like stepping into a time warp.


NAB has – like almost every other technology event on the planet – adapted and evolved to accommodate technologies which may seem worlds away from its broadcast roots. However, any sense of celebrating diversity was bereft from the welcome ceremony.


Smith started with a sympathetic tone, summarizing his discussions with numerous broadcaster members in recent months, many of which have had to make difficult decisions. Some have been forced into taking out loans just to make payroll, others have had to let go some of their most loyal employees, and some broadcasters have even had to close their doors entirely.


“But something I do know is that broadcasters will endure another 100 years,” demanded Smith’s rallying cry, speaking like someone who knows a lot about broadcasting and little about technology.


Smith also praised broadcasters for donating nearly $100 million of airtime so far to delivering Covid-19 warnings and infomercials during ad breaks, despite financial pressures.


“This year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of broadcasting, and it is interesting to note that at the time of the first commercial radio broadcast in 1920, America was just coming out of another pandemic – the Spanish flu in 1918. Throughout the last century, radio and TV broadcasters have provided a reassuring voice and a sense of community, and that will continue,” said Smith.


If only he had given some prudent advice to struggling broadcasters, rather than turning to Kermit the Frog for a brief morale-boosting cameo, which was the point where Faultline switched off.


Jibes aside, Smith’s opening address should not be reflective of the exciting diversity of the NAB Show Express sessions featuring talks from many familiar and unfamiliar faces from the video technology landscape and content creation scene – which Faultline will explore in detail in the coming days.