MSOs’ basic video programming packages will become such an ancillary part of their business that they will start giving them away in 10 years, Bear Stearns’ Ray Katz told CTAM Summit’s closing session Tues. "They will get 1/3 of their revenue-at least-from their business services," he said. The operators on the panel agreed in principal, with Time Warner Cable’s Glenn Britt saying MSOs’ multichannel businesses will seem small 10 years from now. Most of the panelists agreed that RBOCs-not DBS-will pose the biggest threat in 10 years. "[Telcos] will over time figure out how to offer everything we offer; DBS is just a video platform," Britt said. As for customer service, cable still has a way to go. It’s reached a bit of a plateau, Adelphia chmn/CEO Bill Schleyer said. "It’s not good enough to take us where we want to go." Britt agreed, saying it’s "something we have to work on forever." For Katz, cable may find itself in a similar situation to cell phone providers, people choose the company their friends tell them "sucks the least" (fyi, Katz chose Verizon). Cox’s recent win as best bundled long distance service provider in a J. D. Power survey was "huge," he noted. Adding to the customer service obstacle is the amount of customer confusion. "Our main challenge is that marketing has a long way to go," Britt said. "On Demand is great, but we have all these other things as well. We assume the consumer has absorbed this and now we’re talking about something else." On top of that, it’s hard to anticipate consumers. "People have always fooled us," said Shop At Home Nets pres Judy Girard. "We think we’re going to define how a customer uses [something], but they take it a different way." Taking a radical and more positive approach was Rainbow pres/CEO Josh Sapan, who argued confusion is "oddly a good thing." His argument: technology is advancing and changes are occurring-what’s encouraging is this is brand new technology and when a consumer discovers it, they’re thrilled by it. And consumers will understand (starting with kids), Schleyer added, "It just takes time."— Best Line: After Sapan teased RepublicanTorie Clarke that he heard she’d turned Democrat, Schleyer piped up, "I thought that was a job requirement at Comcast."

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So Long, Rob Stoddard

Many years ago, Cablefax: The Magazine bestowed NCTA’ s Rob Stoddard with its first “Nicest Guy in Cable” award. It’s a moniker that stuck, despite Stoddard’s humble protests, for reasons obvious to

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