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Las Vegas Sun: Michael J. Fox Receives the National Association of Broadcasters' 2010 Distinguished Service Award

By Amanda Finnegan

Actor and Parkinson’s disease advocate Michael J. Fox was honored with the National Association of Broadcasters’ 2010 Distinguished Service Award today at the Las Vegas Hilton during the association’s national convention.

“It isn’t very often that you find someone committed to using his fame and fortune for something good. He is truly a role model in every sense of the word, and his contribution to the film and medical world is nothing short of amazing,” NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said of Fox before presenting the award.

Visibly affected by his own struggle with Parkinson’s disease, Fox accepted the award on behalf of the nearly 1 million people he said are suffering from the degenerative disorder. The annual NAB Distinguished Service Award recognizes those who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the broadcast industry.

“TV prepared me for the greatest opportunities and challenges I never saw coming,” Fox said.

Monday morning’s keynote officially kicked off the start of the 2010 NAB Show in Las Vegas. The convention spans more than 800,000 square feet of exhibit space in the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Las Vegas Hilton, and is expected to bring an estimated 85,000 people and 1,500 exhibiting companies to town.

The state of the industry address was the first for Smith, a former two-term Republican U.S. senator from Oregon who became NAB president and chief executive in September. Smith’s address took on a political tone as he talked about the three major issues he feels are affecting the broadcast industry today: A performance tax on radio stations, retransmission consent rights and spectrum space.

Smith said the NAB will continue to fight the Recording Industry Association of America and the fee they are trying to impose on local radio stations for playing their artists’ music. Record labels would collect 50 percent of the fee, while artists and back-up musicians would collect the other half. But Smith said when record companies are unable to contact musicians, the company would keep 100 percent of the fee.

“Whatever you call it, it's basically a bailout of the major recording companies, three of the four largest of which are foreign-owned,” Smith said. “I think the American people have had enough bailouts.”

Smith cited the importance of over-the-air broadcasting on radio stations and asked, “Can you name a single Grammy-winning artist who would be in that post if it wasn’t for radio? I cant thing of one.”

The NAB leader also addressed the spectrum grab of the new National Broadband Plan, the Federal Communications Commission’s strategy on broadband for the next decade. Smith said his concern is that the broadband plan would yank more than one-third of the spectrum used for TV broadcasting so that wireless broadband companies can have more.

During the government-mandated transition to digital TV, Smith said the broadcast industry gave back more than a quarter of the TV spectrum, which the government then auctioned off to broadband companies. He added the broadband plan hurts the broadcast industry’s ability to provide free and local TV, especially to the 15 percent of households that rely exclusively on free, over-the-air television.

“This matter is one of homeland security,” Smith said. “During times of emergencies, there is no way that cell phone and broadband networks will ever be as reliable as broadcasting in terms of delivering timely and accurate information to the masses.”

The keynote later shifted to the newest innovation in the broadcast world: 3-D TV. Sony Corporation President Hiroshi Yoshioka said Sony expects manufacturers to sell 100 million 3-D-enabled TVs in the next three years. Sony’s 3-D TV will hit store shelves this summer, Yoshioka said.

Sony has been on the forefront of 3-D technology. The company was the first manufacturer to announce its effort to bring the technology to home theaters at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show and most 3-D programs are filmed with Sony cameras.

Yoshioka showed off some recently developed Sony 3-D programming, including a concert series from country star Kenny Chesney, a Mercedes-Benz commercial and the 2010 Masters. Sony recently opened a 3-D research center within Television City at MGM Grand, where visitors can check out Sony’s 3-D products before they hit store shelves later this year.

“For nearly a century, filmmakers have had to show a 3-D world through a 2-D lens,” Yoshioka said. “Now, technology has finally caught up to reality.”

The 2010 NAB show will run through Thursday and is expected to generate $133.6 million for the Las Vegas Valley.

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