You’ve read our choices for the top seven newsmakers, issues and companies to watch in ’07. For another view, we asked several insiders what they think will be the most critical issues facing cable and their companies this year. Their edited responses appear below.

RICH BATTISTA

CEO, GEMSTAR-TV GUIDE INTERNATIONAL

[1] Guidance — redefining the notion of what guidance means in an increasingly complex media landscape is more important than ever.

[2] Any device, anywhere, anytime…staying ahead in a time/place/device-shifting video environment.

[3] Cable TV and the future of broadband — the blurring of roles among cable service, IP and telecom providers.

[4] Speed of execution in a world of rapid change.

[5] A maturing cable industry — how do companies continue to grow and evolve this year and in the coming years?

[6] The need of cable programmers to break through the clutter and stand out and differentiate themselves.

[7] Cross-company integration — a silo mentality within an organization will be the death knell for any media company in the future.

CHAR BEALES

PRESIDENT/CEO, CABLE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATION FOR MARKETING

[1] Growing market share against telco TV/DBS competition.

[2] Harnessing the potential of business services locally/nationally.

[3] Improving the customer experience across the board.

[4] Content providers going for more eyeballs/ad revenue.

[5] Exploiting new-media business opportunities, while maintaining key relationships.

[6] Content providers building brands across myriad content delivery platforms.

[7] Managing 1 through 6.

STEVE BORNSTEIN

PRESIDENT/CEO, NFL NETWORK

[1] Reregulation.

[2] A la carte.

[3] Telco rollout.

[4] Decency.

[5] Vertical integration.

[6] Bandwidth.

[7] HDTV.

JOHN CLARK

PRESIDENT/CEO, SOCIETY OF CABLE TELECOMMUNICATIONS ENGINEERS

[1] Telco competition.

[2] Fueling growth of business services.

[3] Absorbing/embracing field technical staffs during industry consolidation.

[4] Democrats taking over Congress.

[5] Continued customer service improvements.

[6] Capital planning for future technology.

[7] Making customers comfortable with the barrage of new technology/services.

SEAN CUNNINGHAM

PRESIDENT/CEO, CABLETELEVISION ADVERTISING BUREAU

[1] Assisting advertisers in striking the right balance between linear/nonlinear branded TV ad options on a client-by-client basis.

[2] Communicating misperceptions about the vitality of TV viewing so planners understand. TV remains in overall audience growth mode; that growth is driven by cable brands, and TV’s fastest growing audience segments are the younger demographics who watch more cable brands.

[3] Continuing to encourage the planning practice of using "Cable First" across all platforms for planning/market deployment of video ad options.

[4] Demonstrating to the market the clear economic advantages branded cable networks provide over broadcast in reach-building/ratings primacy across the full range of major video advertisers.

[5] Gaining greater share locally for spot/zone cable in the most important advertising categories, such as automotive, retail, financial, health care, fast food and real estate, while gearing up for a huge 2008 in political ads.

[6] Accelerating the practice of aggregating/analyzing/delivering census-level set-top box data from MSOs, then getting this data in front of advertisers/agencies as a ramp-up to dynamic ad insertion.

[7] Working with Nielsen to fix data-gathering shortfalls in their proposed commercial ratings product to ensure correct cable data can be produced in 2007.

PAT DUNBAR

PRESIDENT, DIGITAL MEDIA ADVERTISING STRATEGY GROUP

[1] Keeping up with broadband on advertising — broadband deployments with engagement opportunities are easier to buy than engagement on cable at scale.

[2] Leveraging the electronic program guide — the EPG is cable’s search device, a space where consumers are willing to engage, which could be better leveraged in most systems.

[3] A thousand channels and nothing to view — 2006 was marked by innovative content deals, but the lack of timely ad insertion capabilities makes promotion and ad support difficult.

[4] Measurement, measurement, measurement — yes, progress has been made, but more needs to be done, particularly in consistency across cable platforms.

[5] Measurement, measurement and more measurement — improving the timeliness of results and progress on new features will continue to be a "show me" benchmark for advertisers.

[6] A road map for the future — advanced features are great, but without a road map on when they will be deployed consistently, they will remain in the realm of advertising R&D.

[7] Finding a solution to the economic/technical standoffs between programmers and cable operators on deployment of advanced features is critical to keeping the environment competitive in attracting ad dollars.

DANIEL FAIZULLABHOY

CEO, BROADLOGIC NETWORK TECHNOLOGIES

[1] Bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth — with near-simultaneous growth of a number of services including HD, VOD, VoIP and broadband data, the biggest issue today is the need for more bandwidth to accommodate these services.

[2] Going all-digital — the best way for operators to gain bandwidth.

[3] Competition — the entry of a group of competitors, especially well financed, market-savvy competitors like telcos, is cause for a fundamental change in the way cable operators view their subscriber base.

[4] Delivering new services, while tuning and improving the deployment and packaging of triple/quad-play offerings.

[5] Subscriber churn — subscriber confusion and/or dissatisfaction with service offerings has only increased with the number of services/packages/tiers operators must offer to stay competitive.

[6] Costs — operators must wrestle with balancing capital/operating expenditures to get the most bang for the buck.

[7] The CPE [consumer premise equipment] conundrum — whether they are set-top boxes, DVRs, cable modems or consumer electronics gateway devices, operators face challenges associated with managing these diverse products.

BILL GEORGES

SVP, AFFILIATE AND AD SALES, AZN TELEVISION

[1] Switched digital video — this will free up bandwidth for cable operators, allowing them to better serve their niche customers and help retain customers with a superior (faster) broadband product.

[2] Triple play — more than ever, this will be critical for retention/acquisition of customers in what is becoming an increasingly competitive marketplace.

[3] Compelling content — content providers and cable operators will have to work together to create content that separates the operators’ TV/broadband offerings from that of the competition.

[4] Portability — cable will have to address the consumers’ desire to access/experience content whenever and wherever they want.

[5] Triple play may become grand slam — operators may find adding wireless services to their triple-play offering necessary to compete.

[6] Dynamic ad insertion — platforms such as VOD/streaming video will have operators looking for more effective ways for advertisers to connect with viewers.

[7] Fastest broadband product — maintaining this advantage will be critical for subscriber acquisition/retention.

DINNI JAIN

PRESIDENT/COO, INSIGHT COMMUNICATIONS

[1] Too many Duke games on TV (and not enough North Carolina games).

[2] Programming costs.

[3] Programming costs.

[4] Programming costs.

[5] Programming costs.

[6] Programming costs.

[7] Programming costs.

KATHY JOHNSON

PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR MULTI-ETHNICITY IN COMMUNICATIONS

[1] Recognizing that diversity makes good business sense and is an opportunity for everyone — not just for people of color.

[2] Continuing to diversify original on-air content that depicts positive multiethnic imagery.

[3] Addressing the dearth of people of color in ad sales/new media.

[4] Increasing the pipeline of people of color into middle management.

[5] Growing the representation of African-Americans/Asians/Latinos in senior management ranks.

[6] Keeping cable’s public affairs efforts at the forefront of addressing social issues on-air/in communities.

[7] Competing with other media platforms (telcos/Internet/mobile/DBS) for recruitment/retention of workforce talent and viewers.

STEVE JONES

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CABLE TELEVISION PUBLIC AFFAIRS ASSOCIATION

[1] Competition from phone companies, the Internet and DBS for the consumer.

[2] Convergence of the Internet as a distributor of programming content.

[3] Set-top integration ban.

[4] State franchising legislation and its potential impact (both good and bad).

[5] Building relationships with key 110th Congress Democratic leaders, and keeping industry issues with potential negative impacts (net neutrality/a la carte/indecency) off the table.

[6] Effectively communicating cable’s positions (and reasoning behind them) with consumers, public officials and the media.

[7] Retransmission-consent payments for local broadcast station carriage/overall pricing for programming.

JERRY KENT

CEO, SUDDENLINK COMMUNICATIONS

[1] Retransmission consent — if not reformed or curtailed, retrans will represent major added costs to cable customers, and as long as some broadcasters/programmers view customers as poker chips in negotiations, we’ll all suffer.

[2] Sports programming costs — these costs continue to escalate at alarming events, with pressure to pay for more events.

[3] Telco competition — with the Bells getting bigger, our industry must be more nimble/entrepreneurial to beat them because we certainly can’t outspend them.

[4] Telephone/triple-play deployments — there may be not any silver bullets, but the triple play comes closer to fitting that description than anything else I’ve seen in the nearly 25 years I’ve been in this industry.

[5] Set-top box integration ban — bad policy, higher consumer costs, no benefits and hopefully the FCC will listen to the many reasonable voices now chiming in on this issue.

[6] Adding wireless/quadruple play — it may not be a must-have until 2008 or beyond, but eventually wireless is inevitable and we will once again have to move quickly to incorporate it in our product mix.

[7] Navigating the political landscape — it will be an interesting year with a new party in charge of Congress and the FCC’s general stance on cable issues.

DEBRA LEE

CHAIRMAN/CEO, BET NETWORKS

[1] A la carte.

[2] Any kind of must-carry.

[3] Indecency.

[4] Declining advertising revenue.

[5] Increasing ratings.

[6] Navigating a multi-platform world.

[7] Growing digital assets.

BENITA FITZGERALD MOSLEY

PRESIDENT/CEO, WOMEN IN CABLE TELECOMMUNICATIONS

[1] Differentiation — as cable continues to face increased competition from DBS/telcos, we must set ourselves apart by better communicating our value proposition to our customers.

[2] Employee retention — we must continue to invest in professional development, advancement and support of current employees so that we retain our excellent workforce and don’t lose employees to competitors or other industries.

[3] Audience share — as viewers continue to alter their viewing patterns, cable must find new ways to get eyeballs on its programming.

[4] Women in operations — provide opportunities to rotate women into P&L positions so that they are represented at least as equally at operators as they are at programmers.

[5] Consumer education — we must do a better job of educating consumers of the services available to them through their cable company.

[6] Women in technology — continue our efforts to increase the number of women involved in technology development/marketing as the lines between TV, the Internet and wireless devices begin to blur.

[7] Engaging the millennial — with the retirement of baby boomers and the entrance of the millennial generation into the workforce, we need to adapt our workforce practices to integrate their expectations into our existing cultures.

MITCH OSCAR

EVP, CARAT DIGITAL

[1] Interactive TV application deployments — addressability, VOD, request for interaction, electronic program guide, portal pages and the combination of all of the above.

[2] Fewer, more meaningful industry conferences.

[3] More information/data about how people watch TV in the digital universe, in combination with interactive usage.

[4] Marriage of remote control viewer clicking data and lifestyle data mining, to provide more meaningful insight into usage and the consumer.

[5] Convincing advertisers that money allocated to local broadcast are better spent in the local cable realm, given its greater share of time spent with their channels.

[6] Arrival of telco video platforms that will for the first time, compete with cable’s local monopolies.

[7] Customer service and quad-play deployment, so that the cable operators will maintain their loyal base, expand subscriptions where possible and upsell services.

MATTHEW POLKA

PRESIDENT/CEO, AMERICAN CABLE ASSOCIATION

[1] Retransmission consent/broadcast station carriage reform.

[2] Low cost set-top boxes/set-top integration ban.

[3] Net neutrality.

[4] Sports programming costs.

[5] State franchising.

[6] Rural broadband loan program.

[7] VoIP interconnection.

EVAN SHAPIRO

GENERAL MANAGER, INDEPENDENT FILM CHANNEL

[1] Recapturing buzz back from IP video for cable/video-on-demand programming. Remember, TV is still far and away the No. 1 video entertainment portal!

[2] Solving the searchability of VOD — long term, this is the next killer app.

[3] (Finally) properly demonstrating the power of cable audiences to come closer to CPM equality with broadcast/online advertising budgets.

[4] Making branded entertainment that’s actually both branded and entertainment — and bridging the gap to the next generation of TV marketing.

[5] Making TV ratings/parental guidelines more clear and user — friendly for viewers-regulating ourselves effectively before someone "offers" to do it to us.

[6] Reaching beyond our comfort zone to create original programming for the new-media generation that clearly differentiates us from broadcast/online programmers — call this making the TV that only cable can make.

[7] Cultivating new executive talent across all disciplines — programming, marketing, technology, sales, biz development — that ensures the long-term viability of our business. Cable must compete as hard for young raw talent as we do for revenue and audiences.

CLINT STINCHCOMB

EVP/GM, HDTV AND NEW MEDIA, DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS

[1] Bandwidth — the constant need for more is a fundamental truth, particularly as operators exploit the quad play and bring intoxicating new products and services to light.

[2] Content — in a world of wildly proliferating choice, cutting through the clutter will be more challenging than ever.

[3] HD is here — with set sales skyrocketing and new HD services announced weekly, distributor competition will be more intense than ever for the valuable HD subscriber.

[4] Dynamic ad insertion — this is crucial to moving the cable video-on-demand business forward, and 2007 may be our breakthrough year.

[5] VOD ad measurement — the next key to cable VOD exploding is a universally endorsed, deployed and accepted system of measurement.

[6] Mobile — with wireless devices presenting an "anytime, anywhere" consumption option to consumers, cable operators will bear-hug the quad play.

AMY TYKESON

PRESIDENT/CEO, BEND BROADBAND

[1] Federal regulatory interferences (set-top box integration ban/net neutrality).

[2] State regulatory interferences (taxes/state franchising/pressure from ILEC’s for deregulation).

[3] Complying with the set-top box integration ban — obtaining boxes/CableCARDs, creating/implementing new security systems, insuring minimal customer and expense impacts.

[4] Building business models, an implementation framework and the back office for several advanced service initiatives, such as OCAP, wireless and DOCSIS 3.0.

[5] Continued price competition, combined with heavy capital investment.

[6] Attracting personnel in a tight labor market.

[7] Continuing to drive customer delight and loyalty.

SANGITA VERMA

CEO, TVHEAD

[1] Deploying a standard platform that allows operators to easily deploy a range of interactive TV content.

[2] Managing bandwidth to support increased VOD/HD usage.

[3] Deploying the new CableCARD set-top boxes.

[4] Focus on making cable’s core business (TV) a more compelling consumer experience.

[5] Bring interactivity and community to the TV.

[6] Cross-platform content that spans TV, Internet and wireless.

[7] Customer service — getting better, but still needs improvement.

DAVID WOODLE

CHAIRMAN/CEO, C-COR

[1] Keeping pace with cable customers’ whims and needs — the relationship that trumps everything (train employees in good customer relations skills/have the best product lineup at the best price).

[2] Transitioning from a single product (video) mind-set to a competitive full-service bundle provider — cable employees are being asked to deliver not just more products but more complex products, and they require effective service assurance tools to succeed.

[3] Scaling to meet subscriber demand quickly without sacrificing quality of service — customers are embracing VoIP, high-speed data and VOD, and now we have to find a safe, reliable path to satisfy those orders in a world where our competitor is ready to pick up anyone who is dissatisfied.

[4] Relieve the HD-driven bandwidth crunch without expansive rebuilds (options for operators include HFC node-splitting/switched digital video/compression).

[5] Creating new business relationships — advanced services add to the complexity of contractual relationships among programmers, advertisers and service providers, requiring technology that accommodates these new obligations.

[6] Cable fighting back on many fronts — telcos are hitting the prime markets while DBS/others are going after the smaller markets, pressuring operators to find economic business models that enable delivery of advanced services everywhere.

[7] Mitigating bandwidth hogs through capacity management — as over-the-top/peer-to-peer/gaming services grow, the industry needs to continue to develop technologies that fairly provision bandwidth and equalize the service in a world utilizing increasingly complex applications.

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