Three months into my run as a cable trade journalist, the editor of CT, Jonathan Tombes, asked me to share some first impressions of the industry. Though I am new to the technical side of this business, cable first impressed me many years ago.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am the kid who convinced her babysitter to let her stay up for HBO‘s first commercial-free airing of Coma on Halloween night in 1978. I was four years old. A few years later I flipped open my Pac-Man phone and, with all the passion a second-grader could muster, requested that Cablevision deliver my MTV. By the time I entered college, the roads were ripped up to lay fiber. While I was studying for the bar exam, digital cable became a welcome, novel distraction.
You don’t have to be a long-time industry insider to appreciate how far cable technology has advanced. That chunky black A/B switch stuck to the back of the TV set grew up as well. It went from a flat khaki toaster-shaped device that couldn’t quite balance on top of the set to the dazzling appliance that now enables my strict preference for viewing on-demand programming.
Since joining CT, I’ve had the privilege of meeting industry pioneers, the wizards behind the entertainment technology that I had always taken for granted. To this newcomer, they are as energetic and diverse as one could imagine. They impress me as community of creative but practical souls fighting to stay ahead in an increasingly heterogeneous marketplace.
From the Moon Man statue in the Cable Hall of Fame to Scientific Atlanta‘s tribute to the evolution of the set-top box, I’ve been struck by how much the cable industry is part of our collective history, both consumers and providers. That relationship, that familiarity, continues to be cable’s most important advantage.
At the start of 2008, cable is poised to face a difficult year. With satellite, the telcos, and an onslaught of new technology fast on the cable’s heels, it is an exciting time to enjoy this little window on the industry.
Best of luck for the new year. Jenn Rinaldi
PS: Forget MTV. Now I want my Al-Jazeera.