Last updated: February 14, 2011 - 10:00am
Gordon Smith believes few things are more American than a square meal with peas, carrots and corn. Of course the former senator from Oregon may be biased, since his family supplies much of the nation's frozen veggies. But the veteran politician and businessman understands the power of a good message.
And now, as the top evangelist for broadcasters, he's preaching about another red-white-and-blue ideal: free and local television. Broadcast TV may be on the decline, but Smith asks what the nation would do without the evening news, weather alerts and live broadcasts of the World Series. Let's not forget how important those local television spots have been for political campaigns, he adds. Smith, the president of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), is taking that pitch to former Capitol Hill colleagues, warning that the federal government's plan to bolster wireless networks could end up darkening signals for hundreds of stations around the country. The administration says television channels should be sold to wireless companies that will build networks for a new generation of Internet-connected smartphones and tablets. To make that work, the government promises to give broadcasters a cut of proceeds from auctions of their airwaves. The plan has the backing of wireless carriers, gadgetmakers and Internet firms. But Smith isn't biting just yet.
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