Tense? How tense? What tense is it? Worried? Past? Present? Stressed? Future? Future-perfect? Past-present-future-pluperfect? OK, okay. I’m mightily bugged by reporting—by CableFAX, cable360.net, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, FOX News, FOX Business News, Investor’s Daily and even sometimes by me—that messes up the tense of the real story… except, oddly enough, by cnn.com. Check it out. Almost every medium reported “Scripps Splits”… not Scripps “to split” or Scripps “plans to split.” (Good move by Scripps in any event). When the venerable (love that word) Dow Jones was in play, I’ll bet a dozen headlines trumpeted the deal as done before the bid had been formally accepted. The constraints of headline writing don’t make for the best excuse. I think we should all try to get things right! Like every time we read about DirecTV these days, all of those Hi-Def signals are available to every DirecTV home—they aren’t. And more than half the stories put Liberty as the owner already even though it hasn’t closed yet. Meanwhile, how tense are you today? Note: the meanings have different etymologies. Random Notes


  • The Cable Center: Said the other day that the Cable Center was on course… for proof, go to cablecenter.org and click on the download for the CC’s new Annual Report. Worth looking at closely (if only to see if your name or someone you envy is listed). FYI to those five who asked: it took eleven takes for Stuehrk to catch me munching on a sweet roll while everyone else was paying attention at the board meeting. At least it wasn’t my usual drink in hand.
  • Show Down 2: As all those folks meet in DC on Mon the 22nd to decide yours and my travel schedules for the next millennium, I’m—of course—on my way to a meeting… the CableFAX Leaders’ Retreat in Key Biscayne (someone’s gotta do it). While this DC meeting is likely to only be “informational” (as in: YOU WILL BEHAVE OR ELSE!), something to consider is the real impact on companies. Some smaller operators would be hard-pressed to send all of their top folks off twice a year at the same times. Others rightly have pointed out asking how else can vendors and programmers see so many smaller and medium sized operators at once than going to the right shows? Meanwhile, our off-the-record annual show always results in better information for operator attendees and their sponsors in their decision-making processes.
  • Zero Sum: It’s here. The house-to-house fight for subscribers is fast turning into a zero sum game. This quarter’s MSO reports can only highlight what is fast becoming like WWI trench warfare. Add in the chaos in the housing market that will impact any hopes for subscriber growth and… well, what are you going to do? Sounds like a renewed look at retention marketing is in order… plus some serious thinking about creating USPs (Unique Selling Propositions) beyond the Triple Play (may another such winner be in the offing). That guy at the last CTAM Summit who asked what his cable operator had done for him lately had a pretty good point.

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