Shapiro, NAB: Almost Strange Bedfellows?

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It’s no secret that few people can irritate the National Association of Broadcasters more than Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association.

The CEA is pressuring Congress to snatch broadcasters’ analog spectrum, while CEA members stubbornly resist building TV sets with digital tuners for the benefit of millions who don’t want to pay for cable or satellite.

Those who have been watching the NAB-CEA feud play out were amused to learn that Shapiro recently whispered to reporters that NAB personnel sounded him out as a potential successor to outgoing NAB president Edward Fritts.

“To clarify, Gary was approached by some of NAB’s board members who made light inquiries -- re: his interest in the job. He was never formally approached,” CEA spokesman Jeff Joseph said.

The Federal Communications Commission voted this past week to tighten digital-TV-tuner mandates -- a victory for the NAB over team Shapiro.

Asked to comment on whether Shapiro might be heading to the NAB, spokesman Dennis Wharton said, “It’s been a rough week for Gary, so I think I’m going to take the high road on this one.”