Given the busy week in DC, we decided to pick NCTA pres/CEO Kyle McSlarrow’s brain to see how he thinks things are shaking out. The FCC’s long- awaited violence/a la carte report is out. Now what? I’m not sure. I assume at some point there will be hearings. They may be broader than just violence—about content regulation in general. There may be some type of legislation introduced. Beyond that, it’s hard for me to say what the possibilities are of whether it moves or what it looks like. The a la carte sections leap out at you as completely disconnected to the rest of the report. It’s just sort of gratuitously thrown in there, and it’s not surprising to me because the benefits of a la carte are really a myth. It will destroy diversity and impose higher costs on consumers. If you force networks into an a la carte world where the incentives to hang on or increase market share become even more onerous, you’re actually living in a world, I think, that is more likely to drive you to be edgier. I’m not sure a la carte wouldn’t make that problem even worse. One of the findings was that cable’s parental controls aren’t effective enough right now and that the advanced controls are only available on digital boxes. Cable has been pushing these features hard. Why isn’t this resonating? I think we can accept that parental controls, like any other technology, are evolving. Clearly they’re better on digital boxes than analog. Clearly they’re better this year than last year. For the first time, I think, we’ve just tipped over 50% of our cable subscriber base becoming digital. It’s true to say not everyone has the most sophisticated tools today, but the trend is clearly moving in that direction. A helpful and constructive approach to that would be how to accelerate it as opposed to just trashing it and saying the only recourse is more govt legislation. Anything cable likes in this dual-carriage DTV rulemaking? Based on what we know, it does seem like that in the section dealing with degradation, they originally were going down a very bad road that seemingly didn’t understand that everybody in this universe is multiplexing signals and trying to deliver signals using a variety of technologies. So, it seems there are a couple options there they provided for comment. On dual carriage, I’m still just puzzled on what the problem is that they’re trying to solve. Any idea what FCC chmn Kevin Martin will speak about next week at the Cable Show in Vegas? Not a clue. I know you share our sorrow over the passing of Jack Valenti. Do you have a favorite memory? I’ve known Jack for 20 years. A funny memory on Capitol Hill was him lobbying me to persuade my wife to come work for him. I think he always thought she was his favorite McSlarrow, which puts him in a fairly large category. In this job, I worked with him primarily on this coalition to focus on content regulation and the 1st Amendment. He never lost sight of zeroing in on the person he was talking to and making them understand in a sincere way that he wasn’t just there to deliver a message; he was there to listen. And he did it with everybody.

The Daily


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