There’s still some rankling between programmers and operators when it comes to the new media business model. That was clear during Mon’s Cable Show general session on convergence, when Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt talked about programmers putting shows up on the Internet for free that operators are paying for. "Guess what? We do mind that," Britt said. Charter‘s Neal Smit said he thinks there is a way to make the Internet and TV work together by using the Net to promote video viewing. "The business model will evolve. I’m hoping to see more connections between the 2," he said. MTVN‘s Judy McGrath defended her company’s online position. "I think we’re pretty careful about where we put our content to keep your interest in mind as well as ours and those rabid consumers that want more," she said. "You evolve your businesses too. You need content for all your platforms." Adding to the challenge of creating this new business model is that "free has become the new black," said Sun Microsystems chmn/co-founder Scott McNealy. Rather than "play Whack-a-Mole" and try to stop free dissemination, his company has embraced it. But it’s still looking for a way to monetize the model. For the most part though, the panel was in agreement—the future of a converged world looks bright. "I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be in a business," said ESPN/Disney Media Networks co-chief George Bodenheimer. "The pie is growing every which way you look at it—Internet, TV, radio… You have more opportunities to reach your customer than ever before." All were very keen on HD. ESPN’s ratings are 40% higher in HD, added Bodenheimer. "We’re transitioning to a new standard," said Britt. "When we get there, all TV will be HD. I think we’re just partly through that transition. It’s good for everyone." Advanced video is also posting strong metrics. Smit said Charter’s VOD viewing for 1Q was up 40% Y-over-Y. At Time Warner, programming that’s on Start Over gets 25% more viewing than other content, Britt said. — McGrath socked it to the booth babes that have become as much a part of the Cable Show as late night partying. When asked what she’d like to see in the future: "Personally, I’d like to walk into NCTA and not see a half naked woman sitting in a martini glass." (Has she seen MTV‘s "Real World" lately?).

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