With next Thurs being the Cable Center Hall of Fame celebration dinner, we continue our interviews with some of this year’s inductees. A few weeks ago, before the markets plummeted, we chatted with Insight CEO and honoree Michael Willner. Here’s a little of what he had to say. As you look back on your career in cable, what moment or event stands out? As I was ending my term as the NCTA chmn, I left the board meeting to go to the bathroom and came back to find out that I’d been re-elected for a 2nd term when people weren’t re-elected at the time. I realized I should never go to the bathroom during a meeting again. Was there a moment you realized cable had arrived? There was, and it was very clear to me… I was in Glasgow in Scotland, in a hotel room, and I was watching CNN on the night the US began to bomb Baghdad in the first Gulf War. And Bernard Shaw was the only one reporting live from Baghdad at the time, cooped up in that hotel room. That in itself was a moment where I realized the cable industry was in the major leagues. When I called home to see how my family was doing, I could hear the same broadcast… Not only had we arrived as an industry, but we’d arrived as an intl industry, since we were a quarter of a world apart. You’ve been very active in DC over the years. What scares you most on the regulatory front? I couldn’t get any more scared than I’ve already been. The problem that I have today is that you look at some of the things floated around Washington about this industry and you kind of scratch your head and wonder, ‘Where did this come from? On what basis of reality is this point of view being put forth?’ It’s the irrationality that scares me the most. You’re chmn of the Cable Show ’09 for the inaugural Cable Connection week. How do you think this event consolidation will work out? It has to work out. The industry is a different industry than it was when all these things got started. There are fewer companies that serve many subscribers. There just needed to be a rationalization of all this travel that was taking place. We looked for ways to do it that will not detract from the contributions these various organizations are making to the industry. Are you looking to grow? Are there deals you’re eyeing? We’re growing internally. We grew at 5.5% last year in basic customers. We continue to add basic customers at a very rapid clip this year. So, we’re very pleased with our own internal performance. It’s no secret that we sought some alternatives last summer, including possibly getting out of the business. But capital markets were what they were at the time, and we have withdrawn any consideration of doing that at this point. And frankly, growing the company again makes a lot of sense if the right deals are out there. That said, we’re not going to go and buy a bunch of subscribers just for the sake of growth. We’re going to have to find the right ones. [ For the full interview, check out Cable360.net ].

The Daily


Representation Matters: Fewer Women, People of Color on TV

Nielsen released its first-ever report of the television media landscape’s progress and gaps in on-screen inclusion.

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