President Curtis LeGeyt of the National Capital Network discusses why Congress must assist local media save and how stations intend to maintain free TV's future

President Curtis LeGeyt of the National Capital Network discusses why Congress must assist local med ...

After due to, the company has returned its annual show to Las Vegas, once more reuniting tens of thousands of station and technology executives to the complex convention center.

, the executive director of the National ABC Show, told the gathering on Monday that given all that has happened since the previous NAB Show, "the stakes for local broadcasters and the audience who depend on us have never been greater."

LeGeyt talked about the NAB strategy in Congress, which has taken a more stern view of local journalism, and at the Federal Communications Commission, which has been in a partisan stalint since President Joe Biden. Among the legislation before lawmakers, the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which would establish a safe harbor for local newspapers to negotiate agreements with tec platforms, as well as tax credits for hiring local news reporters.

Despite that, broadcasters have been pitching "NextGen TV," the next definition of the broadcast system that combines broadcast with broadband, giving viewers more of a web experience when viewing over-the-air television.

DEADLINE: You have discussed how broadcasters may be the antidote to misinformation and polarization on social media and cable news. Is this a fresh message for the NAB in the future?

CURTIS LEGEYT: Both radio and television have met the moment in a way that's just unique in the current media landscape. At the same time, audiences are waiting for trusted, unbiased information. This is an area in which, at the same time, local individuals are requesting that information, and they have provided that. I believe I have been able to connect with them in a manner that the national media cannot always embrace.

DEADLINE: There are a number of legislation that can be applied to local media right now. Do you see them moving forward?

LEGEYT: This is one of the few areas in Washington, D.C. that bipartisan interest in doing something. I think there will be a tech package. I think Congress absolutely needs to do it on the antitrust front. There is too much work in place. Right now the marketplace is completely broken as it relates to local broadcasters and local newspapers. I think this is going to be really important to allowing local media, both broadcasters and newspapers, to have a business model.

DEADLINE: What does the difference between some of the most extensive antitrust legislation? Does the National Board of Appeals adopt a position on, say, a measure to try to prevent computer networks from self-dealing.

LEGEYT: As a matter of concept, we absolutely support these larger efforts to rein in the gatekeeping capability and the market power of these internet platforms. You speak to the non-discrimination bill. You know, our membership is a broad tent, but we absolutely support the notion that there must be fair competition as it relates to any of the companies that these tech platforms happen to be involved in.

DEADLINE: The Build Back Better measure included a provision for tax credits for local journalism hiring. Is this legislation a no-show?

LEGEYT: That provision in Build Back Better is also a stand-alone measure. It is the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, and we also see opportunities to make some progress. One thing that we always point to is that while both Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are co sponsors of the legislation.... This notion of assisting local media and ensuring that a business model continues to exist to incent local broadcasters, local newspapers, and invest in local that is not a political issue.

DEADLINE: The performance royalty. This has been a long, long battle. Do you see any sort of compromise to resolve this issue once and for all? [Musical artists and recording companies have been pushing for legislation that requires broadcast stations to pay for airplay of their works.]

LEGEYT: Well, I'd like to see one. So, in a broadcast perspective, it's important to ensure that any solution here also better encourages broadcasters to innovate in the digital space, as a matter of promotion and as a mutual service. I think the economics isn't working for a local broadcast station that is attempting to migrate into streaming, and it's beneficial for both broadcasters and performers. So here's an example of a potential win-win here.

DEADLINE: But are there any downsides to market trends?

LEGEYT: Yes, there is no doubt that listeners are migrating to streaming for their music consumption. That said, local broadcast radio continues to be the most listened-to platform for audio consumption in terms of the scope of the audience that touches our medium every week. It requires to be innovative. We must ensure that our audience is attracted to radio for what we uniquely offer, completely free. Not everybody wants to pay for an expensive streaming service. This is why Id like to see Congress address this problem holistically.

DEADLINE: The Federal Reserve is in a 2-2 impasse. A third Democrat might not be so favorable to deregulation. Is it in the National Park's interest to believe that there is a resolution?

LEGEYT: Right now, there is a lot of bipartisan interest in policies that help ensure a positive future for local broadcasters. I'm very confident that we'll be able to collaborate with anyone who is the fifth commissioner. So we will certainly tell that story regardless of whether or not it's a 2-2 commission or a 3-2 commission.

DEADLINE: If there is a 3-2 commission, how concerned are you that they will try to reinstate some of the media-ownership restrictions that were imposed?

LEGEYT: I will not make predictions on what the commission may or may not do. For me, the marketplace realities today are so evident that broadcasters are confronted with massive competition from these tech behemoths for local audience and local advertising dollars. There's another question on Capitol Hill as to whether broadcasters under the current regulatory regime are capable of competing in today's media landscape. I think these rules are outdated and do not reflect the reality of that marketplace.

DEADLINE: What are you looking for, and what do you think it needs to be done in order to increase ownership diversity?

LEGEYT: This is something we're very focused on. We have a leadership foundation that has invested enormous amounts of time into training and retention, but this is because to the need of public service and as good business. We must be engaging with local broadcasters in order to broaden the knowledge base, and we can continue to do it. I think this is the case when it comes to recruiting, retention, and training. We need to be focusing on bringing young, diverse people to our organizations as a whole.

DEADLINE: NextGen TV. Do you think you need to get it implemented throughout the country so that broadcasting remains a habit among consumers?

LEGEYT: A sense of urgency. Compare how the media landscape evolved from the point when we started conceptualizing NextGen TV a decade ago to where we are today. Despite the many challenges that Covid has encountered, it is incredible that all of these stations have already been able to provide high-quality programming to local residents in spite of what has happened in the country. By the end of this year, we expect that number to be nearing 80%. And that is how we should build upon this strategy.

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