Cable flacks are (mostly) in the right place this week … DC for CTPAA. I cannot overemphasize their importance these days. In cable’s competitive landscape, the constituencies served by the public relations, investor relations and public affairs folks are increasingly critical … We don’t serve just subscribers any more (if that was ever the case). Any time Congress is in session is a worrisome time. But that level of government and governmental regulation isn’t the only one that counts … which is why I have so often worried in this space about the health of the regional and state associations. Cable’s front line, and what should be cable’s "hole card," remains at the local level. State and regional are secondary lines of defense (or, perhaps what should be, offense). DC is the last resort. So let’s look at the most contentious issue of today: retransmission consent. Kind of fun, wasn’t it, to watch EchoStar and Viacom slug it out in the press and behind closed doors? But I hated to see EchoStar drop its anti- "tying" suit. I think there’s a good point to be made about the life span of the over-the-airheads’ leverage: enough is enough. Somehow, this issue needs to be addressed by cable’s lobbying arms. Random Notes

  • Computer? Like that wonderful all-purpose command on Star Trek, wouldn’t it be nice if we could talk to our TV sets … and have the set do what we told it to? Well, it might not be far away … here’s a quote from an article that originated on The Boston Globe’s Web site March 14:

    "[Brian] Roberts said at a management conference in Phoenix last week with 550 Comcast executives, "one of my favorite" new pieces of technology was a TV remote control that includes a speech recognition feature. Customers would use it to switch stations by saying ‘Go to ESPN’ or "Go to Channel 4," and could call up on their TV screen a listing of all the John Wayne movies available through the on-demand service by saying ‘John Wayne movies.’

  • "It’s still very early in the process, but it could be available sometime in 2005," said Comcast’s Darcy Rudnay." The maker? Agile TV of Menlo Park, CA … run by entrepreneur and extraordinary visionary Paul Cook.

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