Lower-Power Stations Out of DTV Coalition

NAB and ad groups leave operator association off invite list

Community Broadcasters Association (CBA), the group representing low-power TV station operators, won't have a seat at the table when broadcasters are discussing DTV transition issues with advertisers.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) turned down the group's request to join. A representative of the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB), also part of a new coalition, confirmed the CBA request had been denied.

The NAB and TVB announced two weeks ago that they were teaming with the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers to form a group to keep agencies informed on the DTV transition.

In a letter to NAB President David Rehr, CBA Executive Director Amy Brown asked to join, contending that it would be "an excellent platform for our organization and the others to cooperate and send a consistent and accurate message to prepare the advertising community for the full power DTV Transition."

The CBA and NAB have butted heads over the DTV education campaign, with low-power broadcasters concerned that the campaign is not nuanced enough to let viewers know that many low-power stations won't be pulling the plug on analog.

NAB has countered that the CBA's threats to "disrupt" that education effort if its concerns aren't dealt with is not constructive. But the CBA contends it isn't disruptive, but simply seeks a clearer education campaign and more DTV converter boxes that pass through analog signals—quickly.

That cool relationship was still in evidence, according to a copy of the NAB e-mail supplied by Brown. "As you are aware, this is an ongoing effort between NAB, the Television Bureau of Advertising, and two larger advertising associations in New York to ensure advertising agencies are aware of what the DTV transition means to the industry and their clients. After discussing your request internally within the coalition, however, we believe this coalition is not the proper platform for direct involvement of CBA."

The NAB executive who sent the e-mail referred B&C to Jonathan Collegio, who is overseeing the DTV education effort. Collegio in turn referred B&C to the TVB, where spokesman Gary Belis confirmed that CBA would not be participating. He called the dispute a "tempest in a teapot."

"We are of a workable size now and don't want the number of players to become an unwieldy number," Belis explained. But he did say that if low-power issues arise during discussions, the coalition would promptly seek answers from CBA.