While Time Warner Cable used to be "protectionist" about the migration of linear TV content to the Internet, the MSO has entered a "phase of experimentation" to work with programmers on ways to capitalize on new platforms, said svp/chief programming officer Melinda Witmer. "We’re hoping that being a willing and adventurous partner will pay off in the long run," she said. Of course, panelists gathered at the CTAM Summit Tues agreed that the multi-platform world has complicated license negotiations between programmers and MSOs, but Oxygen pres, distribution Mary Murano said "there’s added appreciation that we’re all in these platforms together." In addition, Cathy Fogler, vp, video programming and product management at Charter, said "the relationship outside the negotiating table is what’s more critical now" as both sides brainstorm ways to partner in order to clear the way toward fair licensing deals. "You get to that point only after the big ideas are established because of the relationship," she said. Panelists said multiple platforms also raise questions about who "own the customer"— programmers or operators. But Justin Connolly, Disney/ESPN svp, national accounts, cut off raucous debate on the matter by pointing out that consumers are now in control: "The customer owns the customer. No one owns the customer." — Consumers see no "natural connection" between cable’s triple-play and emerging wireless platforms, "but there is clearly an opportunity for us to have more linkage in the products," said Sprint jv vp, product development Kevin Packingham. One issue is that consumers see cable as local while they view wireless service as national. "Finding a good middle ground on those is ongoing," he said. "We’ve just scratched the surface of what’s possible." — The next logical steps for cable operators is to tie cable subscriptions with programming that’s mobile, Comcast svp, product dev & tech Charlie Herrin said at a CTAM breakfast. A recent Comcast study found that 50% of its sub base uses a laptop while watching TV, Herrin said. While he admits that there’s a plethora of TV-PC devices, "no one yet has made it simple." Indeed, Steve Gorman, Cox vp, marketing high speed ‘Net and Web strategy, called Apple’s "Apple TV" PC-TV product "a little bit clunky." "I think the opportunity for us is to construct an ecosystem that optimizes the customer experience," said Charter vp, gm high-speed Internet Himesh Bhise. — Two Congressmen called on cable to help educate consumers about the Feb ’09 DTV transition. Reps Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Greg Walden (R-OR) were honored by NCTA during CTAM’s opening session for creating a DTV Transition Caucus. Boucher called on cable, with its history of public service, to contribute to education efforts. He suggested running PSAs and using bill inserts. "Let’s keep the madness in March, not move it to February," Walden said.

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Talking ‘Trafficked’ with Nat Geo’s Monroe

Nat Geo’s eight-part docuseries “Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller” made its debut Wednesday night, offering up extensive reporting on the underground world of black markets. National Geographic Content

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