10 ‘Predictions’ for ’08  If, of course, you understand that in this case the word "predictions" means flat out guesses.  This year has brought clarity to more than a few issues … such as the declaration of an all out "War on Cable" from the Chairman of the Federal Confusion Commission and the reality of Hi-Def. (An Aside: Now we know why there isn’t a Hall of Fame for Federal regulators … which brings up the possibility of instituting a "Hall of Shame.") Next year will keep us all under the sway of that great Confucian curse of living in interesting times … 1) As the so-called digital transition approaches, broadcasters, retailers, politicians, regulators and legislators will all ramp up their conspiracy to blame cable for any problems … including slow digital converter box sales, lousy federal implementation of the voucher program, miss-informational programming from broadcasters and more. This, of course, is a terrific opportunity for cable to tell our story … right in the midst of hundreds and hundreds of political campaigns. Watch for the first candidate to blame the Republicans for analog TVs going to full time snow. 2) Digital TV set sales will soar … not, mind you, HDTV sets, just digital. Then, when consumers figure out the difference (they won’t know at first), cable will be blamed. 3) DISH stock will soar every time someone says "AT&T" out loud. 4) As soon as the regulators sign off on the XM/Sirius merger, both DISH and DIRECTV stock will soar. Once for this reason; often for others. 5) Federal Confusion Commission Chairman Kevin Martin(et) will resign right after the fall elections and join AT&T as a "senior consultant" and—mercifully—will never again be heard from. Immediately afterward, one of two FCC actions will commence: (1) the FCC will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking outlawing the cable industry once and for all; and/or (2) the FCC will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking saying "the war is over" and Verizon will be reclassified as a cable company. 6) Just after Labor Day in ’08 as the political campaigns hit a fever pitch, Congress will nationalize the video channels of ALL the major sports leagues and then force cable carriage on the lowest (broadcast only) tier as a "public service" (mostly a service to the leagues for royalties based on viewership) … but only in season for each league. 7) The cable industry will win the bidding for ALL of the 700 MHz up for auction. The industry will then resell it all to Craig McCaw. Shortly thereafter, AT&T will buy McCaw’s Clearwire for 18 times what McCaw paid … and, since the cable industry took stock in payment, RPU percentages explode. 8) Net neutrality will be neutered. Every Congressperson and regulator will have just read the children’s book about the Internet and how it really, really works and will come to the conclusion that somebody really, really, really has to build it and maintain it and make it all work properly. 9) Cable networks will run completely out of ad space in August as the Beijing Olympics and the campaigns vie for space … only bad news? Congress will reiterate and clamp down on political ad costs threatening to make them a "public service." The cable industry suggests a 24/7 "Campaign Channel" to be carried only in the four-month ramp up to major electoral events. 10) Liberty Media will acquire everything. Everything, that is, in the CableFAX 100.

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Reorg at Disney

Walt Disney Television’s chmn of entertainment Dana Walden is majorly restructuring the TV production and original content businesses.

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