The face is different. The manner is more relaxed. The jokes are better. But not surprisingly Kyle McSlarrow’s message is exactly the same as his predecessor’s: innovation not regulation. "[We should let] the marketplace lead, not [look] to our political institutions to intervene in what are properly marketplace negotiations." More specifically, the new NCTA chief wants to guarantee that a rewritten ’96 Telecom Act has all industries playing by the same rules. That means telco video has the same regulations as cable. During his 1st address to the DC Cable Club, he said "you can slap a label on it all you want…[telco video] walks and talks like a cable service." Parity doesn’t mean cable is against change-McSlarrow just wants it applied across the board. He suggested local govts might stop approving video franchise transfers and renewals, but retain franchise rights of way to protect health and public safety. And telcos aren’t the only competitor he’s concerned about. McSlarrow called for all providers, including DBS, to be subject to comparable taxes and franchises fees in a state or community. How does McSlarrow plan to convince regulators to listen to cable? "It takes shoe leather, frankly." — Brand X: The cable- modem business is not likely to change, regardless of the outcome of the Brand X case, McSlarrow said. "I see no scenario where the cable industry isn’t able to operate a cable- modem service exactly as it is today." The Supreme Court is expected to release its ruling imminently; the case focuses on whether cable’s Internet lines could be subject to traditional telecom regs. — Indecency: The cable industry and Sen Commerce chmn Ted Stevens (R-AK) haven’t crafted a compromise on indecency, McSlarrow said. But McSlarrow can joke about it for now. Asked about his biggest surprise, McSlarrow looked at the C-SPAN cameras and deadpanned: "People will probably have to use their channel-blocking equipment before I give this answer."

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