On the Circuit with CableWorld editor Seth Arenstein NEW YORK — NEW YORK — We’re observing Diversity Week here in NY, and this morning’s breakfast panel from CTAM NY on broadband video features a cadre of middle-aged men. Fortunately not all of them are white.
Former Nickelodeon honcho Herb Scannell, now heading online network Next New Networks, is Puerto Rican. Erstwhile cabler David Eun of Google is Asian-American.
Everyone else on a strong panel, with excellent moderation by Will Richmond of Broadband Directions, is white and male. [For a summary of the panel see blog entry, "Cable’s Not Dead Yet."]
This lack of diversity on Diversity Week caused a fair amount of snickering among portions of the throng attending the Blue Ribbon breakfast at stately Gotham Hall on 36th Street. Among other topics bandied about (in no particular order): Murdoch questioning whether Wall St Journal Online should be free, following The NY Times’ announcement; the brief nudity and sexual situations in Spring Awakening, the Broadway show that Cable Positive supporters attended Tues night; oy, those Mets; and the shock of 3 firefighters jumping into the pool Tues that Outdoor Channel set up for its DockDogs event in Bryant Park [see previous blog entry "Dog Day Afternoon"].
Back to diversity: A bit of digging reveals that CTAM NY’s planning committee tried to find women to place on the panel. Several women were approached, but scheduling conflicts prevented a few high-ranking female executives from appearing on the panel. We couldn’t determine if any African-Americans, male or female, were solicited. We’ll assume they were.
Of course you could chalk up the lack of diversity on the panel to the lack of diversity in the upper ranks of the cable industry. Or perhaps CTAM NY, which we know tried, didn’t do so hard enough. It’s a lot to swallow that a qualified woman or an African-American couldn’t be found for this panel.
Or you could return to the old argument—made years ago by Paul Maxwell and others—that companies should refrain from scheduling competing events during Diversity Week. Good point, but less practical today as some cable players are part of heavily diversified companies. It’s one thing to ask cable-centric companies to cool it during Diversity Week, but it’s just not going to be as effective to urge the creative and financial communities to do so. As Mariane Pearl said Tuesday at NAMIC, “diversity isn’t easy.” • More commentary from Seth Arenstein >