Commentary By Paul S. Maxwell In the Public Interest? But so-called "Public Policy" issues are front and center on the smorgasbord that will be in the Mandalay Bay Hotel/Convention-Center/Casino in Las Vegas next week. And we got "issues" galore. Can you say a la carte? Or retransmission consent? Or multicast must-carry? Or CableCARD? Or any of another dozen issues. So pay attention next week … and look for some allies in unusual places. While the Federal Confusion Commission seems to be on a cable witch hunt, not all Federal, state and/or local legislators and regulators share the same goals. Beginning Mon morning, local and state officials will convene and gab … Ballroom D at 10 am. Officials from Indiana, Utah, Virginia, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Wisconsin will join officials from NARUC, NATOA and NBCSL. Cable has worked with local officials forever … seems only right that competitors should also. Doesn’t work that way … but that’s an opportunity. At 1pm Monday, the schedule says that "The Honorable Kevin Martin" of the FCC will be the keynote speaker in Ballroom J. Don’t miss it. Whether he’ll actually say anything or not is a moot point. His appearance is important like a lot of things from this Administration: just because. This is a chairman with an agenda … one that makes very little sense. Help the poor little telephone companies. Push cable’s buttons … all of them. Steal bandwidth that the industry paid for to run programming from those poor over-the-air put upon broadcasters. Trash the 1st Amendment (amazing FCC violence report concludes that American parents are too dumb to monitor their kids’ use of TV and Martin[et] says they need to be able to buy cable channels a la carte … gee, that makes sense … maybe he can test the new restrictive kids’ remote from UEI on the floor). Force onerous costs on cable customers for (1) transition to digital, (2) broadcasters new revenue source, and (3) CableCARDs. My guess on what Martin(et) will say: It’s all cable’s fault for not doing things his way. After Martin(et), a panel on "21st Century Communications Policy: The Role of the States" will convene at Breakers J at 2pm with speakers from five states plus the NCTA and the FCC (a McDowell aide). On Tuesday and Wednesday, invitation-only public policy luncheons will be held … if you got invited … go. Also on Tuesday, at 3:45pm, seven different staffers from the FCC will attempt to make sense of what Martin(et) said on Monday … but don’t count on it making much sense. Random Notes

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ESPN is activating its MegaCast production for the NFL Wild Card presentation (taking place Jan 9 or 10). ESPN and ABC will simulcast the Wild Card game, and ESPN2 and Freeform

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