Just before National ’05, we asked industry figures to set an agenda for Kyle McSlarrow’s first year as head of NCTA both in terms of what he should do for the industry generally and for their companies specifically. This year, we returned to many of those same executives and asked similar questions, including: How’s McSlarrow doing? What should NCTA’s focus be during the next 12 months? [To see their responses from last year, please go to the archive at www.cableworld.com, look for April 4, 2005, "Meet McSlarrow". ] Pat Esser, president, Cox Educate Lawmakers: NCTA should continue to illuminate Congress and the FCC on the incredible success story that is the U.S. cable television industry, highlighting our transformation from a single-service video business to a multiservice broadband communications and entertainment industry. We have fulfilled the promise of the 1996 Telecommunications Act by bringing telephone competition and quickly advancing broadband proliferation—doing so with talent, innovation and private investment capital. Push the Level Playing Field: Competition prevails on all fronts. Lawmakers must understand that cable embraces change and welcomes competition—on a level playing field. Like services should be regulated alike. The vision and success of cable should not be hindered with burdensome rules and regulations that might stymie growth and ultimately harm consumers. Tout Parental Controls: Kyle should continue to educate Washington about the multiple tools available to customers to manage content in their homes. Through programs like Take Charge! from Cox and Cable Puts You in Control from NCTA, the industry is proactively addressing concerns about indecency. Mandatory a la carte and stiffer indecency fines are unnecessary. How’s He Doing? Kyle and his team have an incredible ability to listen, communicate and build consensus around very complex issues. Kyle must continue building upon this to bring participants from across our broader industry (programmers, broadcasters, ISPs, etc.) to the table for long-term solutions. Bob Rose, EVP, Court TV Stop a la Carte From Lingering: I hope Mr. McSlarrow spends my PAC money fighting a la carte; our business model is at risk. I’d be shocked if this issue goes away quietly: Family tiers have not satisfied the FCC’s Kevin Martin and Congress is under assault from consumers (e.g., the Parents Television Council). A la carte pricing is an unworkable and an economically destructive concept. Consumers are confused about it: "Less for more" is not a good proposition. Personally speaking, channel surfing is one of my favorite TV pastimes…give me everything. How many of today’s strongest cable networks would even exist if a la carte regulation existed 15-20 years ago? Retrans Helps Rich Get Richer: How many victims of retransmission consent are out there? Indirectly, Court TV gets pinched and consumers suffer because diversity is effectively limited. I’d like to level the playing field. We have to prove to Congress this law is needless and even harmful. When it all began, broadcasters capitalized on an absurd policy by demanding bandwidth in exchange for retransmission consent. Now, these "poor" broadcasters (CBS $4.7 billion, ABC $3.9 billion, NBC $3.9 billion and Fox $2.6 billion in revenue) are licking their chops as they prepare for a new era of retransmission consent…I hear their license fees will go as high as $4 per sub in some markets. Sounds pretty reasonable to me! How’s He Doing? I think Mr. McSlarrow and his NCTA team have done a damn good job slowing down Washington’s efforts to impose indecency legislation on cable. Specifically, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) said he wants to determine whether a new industrywide education initiative promoting the V-chip and other "blocking technology" can adequately address indecency concerns. Thus, for the next 18-24 months, as cable networks, broadcasters and our distribution partners get behind this education initiative, we may actually see things calm down. By then, the next presidential election will be in full swing—maybe, the pendulum will swing in the right (I mean left) direction. Manish Jha, SVP and GM, Mobile ESPN,
president, NAMIC
Encourage Growth Through Diversity: Kyle McSlarrow should continue to focus on growth and diversity, best evidenced by enhanced cooperation between cable and well-known and emerging content suppliers. This can highlight the tremendous value for consumers that cable provides. NCTA can be a catalyst, ensuring that cable customers of all incomes, races and genders have access to the broadest array of content from a growing list of content providers. Campaign Against Redlining: McSlarrow should strengthen cable’s resolve and strong position to serve the widest possible range of customers. NAMIC and other industry organizations can play a crucial role in supporting the industry’s efforts in serving an increasingly diverse customer base. Because it is on average younger than the population at large and because buying habits develop early in life, locking customers in with compelling programming that appeals to their unique needs will strengthen cable and NAMIC. Working together, NCTA, the Walter Kaitz Foundation and NAMIC can ensure that diverse employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders are served better tomorrow than today. Jeff Abbas, president, NCTC Join Ranks With Independent Cable Ops: As Kyle forges the coalitions needed to protect and advance the cable industry’s interests in Washington, I hope he will count the NCTC and its members among his allies. Kyle and I first met at an NCTC board dinner literally 60 minutes after I became NCTC’s president, and I was pleased that one of my first official acts was to extend to Kyle an open invitation to enlist the support of the NCTC and its members to further our common interests. As part of the NCTA’s strategy, I hope Kyle includes the concept that every cable, data or voice subscriber retained, won or won back by independent cable operators—the members of the NCTC—is also a win for the NCTA’s members, because it’s one more subscriber (and increment of cash flow) cable has and our competitors don’t. Every day cable can further deploy its superlative triple play (or quad play) bundle of services, at any level of the cable industry, is a day where the implausibility of our would-be competitors’ business plans becomes more apparent to regulators, financial institutions and our customers. Matt Polka, president/CEO, American Cable Association
Encourage Consumer Choice, Equitable
Reform and Fight Retrans Abuses: (1) Encourage new business models between operators and programmers that allow for more choice and flexibility in packaging services the way consumers want them; (2) stand together against the abuses of retransmission consent; (3) work together to ensure fairness and parity for cable in telecom and video reform issues. Kim Martin, EVP/GM, WE Promote Programmer-Operator Harmony: I’d like Kyle to encourage cable programmers and operators to continue working together to provide quality content to consumers on all platforms. Technology is evolving rapidly, creating various means and devices for getting content. There are lots of new revenue opportunities for everyone in this young, expanded marketplace. By working in partnership, programmers and operators can both benefit. Bob McIntyre
CTO, Scientific-Atlanta
Fight Regulation, Push Consumer Awareness: Kyle should keep cable in a free-market position, without federal regulations on critical new services like VoIP. He should prevent unreasonable requirements on MSO costs, such as a ban on integrated set-tops that ultimately cost the consumer more for less. He should work against the embedded security ban, which forces cable vendors to waste R&D on older technologies dictated by federal regulations [e.g., CableCARDs] when new technologies clearly are more efficient; NGNA for example. In addition, he should help promote consumer awareness of services like digital cable, HDTV, DVR and VOD.

The Daily


Blue Ridge Brings FTTH

Broadband internet provider Blue Ridge Communications is updating its networks to convert to complete FTTH service in rural Pennsylvania. The build started in Westfield, PA

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