National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Gordon Smith announced Wednesday that he’s stepping down from the role at the end of the year.
Smith, a former Republican U.S. Senator from Oregon and an Area Seventy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will transition to a special adviser of counsel to the broadcast industry lobbying group on Jan. 1, 2022. The association’s chief operating officer Curtis LeGeyt was named as its next president and CEO.
“It’s been a fabulous cause to represent and an honor to be the CEO, but I pass that on to a very worthy successor,” Smith told Deseret News.
Smith was named CEO of the group in 2009, after serving in the Senate since 1997. Originally signed to a three-year deal, his term was eventually expanded to 12 years.
“It’s just time,” he said. “I’m just about 69 years of age and I have lots of other responsibility like being an Area Seventy for the LDS Church, and I own a large frozen vegetable processing company in Oregon and there’s just lots of loose ends in my life that I need to attend to as a father and as a grandfather.”
The National Association of Broadcasters lobbies on behalf of radio and television broadcasters, which play an important role because they provide free and local journalism and other media to communities across the country, Smith said.
“Our challenge has been to make the case in Congress and the administration and the FEC and to the courts that broadcasters play a unique role in the firmament of American telecommunications because we provide a public service that no one else does, like Google or Amazon or Facebook,” he said. “We cover local and we do it live and we do it large and we do it for free to everyone with eyes to see and ears to hear.”
Smith said some of his proudest accomplishments with the association include fighting against performance fees for radio, keeping sufficient spectrum space for broadcast television and the FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project lawsuit, which the association joined and the Supreme Court ruled on last week. A unanimous court decided in favor of relaxing the limits on how many newspaper, television and radio stations one entity can own in a single market. The Radio and Television Business Report called the ruling “perhaps the crown achievement of the NAB during Smith’s run as its head.”
“Our competitors, like Google and Amazon and Facebook, Twitter, they are wholly unregulated and they’ve become these mega corporations that are actually bigger than many governments,” Smith said. “And yet, that’s our competition and we are kept small and without scale for the ability to negotiate with them.”
These new “modernized rules” will help local media compete, Smith said.
After stepping down as CEO, Smith said he plans to move back to his home state of Oregon.