CABLEworld‘s staff of reporters, editors and freelancers have put together one critical mass of a look at the cable industry’s issues…with a couple of answers thrown in for good measure. (An aside: I’ve always thought the word "cable" was more important in our logo than "world." So, stay tuned.) But I, of course, have my own take on some of them. For example, the list doesn’t include indecency directly; nor does it include the indecent companion of a la carte, although both a la carte and indecency are covered within this special section. That issue had been, the editors must have thought, laid to rest (besides, it had been covered well in CableWORLD already). But there it came again right before deadline. There is only one possible conclusion: Politics is indecent. One can only wonder why it took Federal Confusion Commission chairman Kevin Martin(et) so long to find a pet economist to use his (meaning the Martinet’s) "good" (as opposed to earlier "faulty") assumptions and "correct" (as opposed to earlier "incorrect") data. Sure. Lies, damn lies and statistics. Or, how to change the cable industry’s more than half century of business practices by changing the underlying "assumptions." Assumptions such as those all these decades of experience have taught? Assumptions that fit the political winds as one party tries to re-pander to its "base" by getting away with what it can. Can you say, "off-term elections?" Interesting that the Martinet chided the industry for not developing what he (the Martinet) wanted, even though the commission—not to mention the GAO—had concluded that a la carte wouldn’t lead to what he (the Martinet) wants…an issue to point to for the "base." Reminds me of Gordon Lightfoot…"if you could read my mind…" All right, all together now, "Let’s pander!" Just think, the FCC is devolving into the nation’s nanny…a nanny with an agenda. Parents, according to the new nanny, just can’t cope with all those parental controls… That, of course, is the industry’s fault…and the industry’s alone when it comes to indecent politics. (By the way, anybody in Washington remember the First Amendment? Just asking.) So that’s the seventh top issue to watch in ’06. As for the other six: 1) Retransmission consent: It won’t go away. Nothing will change. And there will be more bloody battles…as CBS splits off, more on the cash conundrum, too. 2) Competition: Yep, we got it. We’ve had it since ’94. But this time we don’t have our heads in the sand. The telcos won’t meet their business plans and issue No. 6 will rear its cranky head for them, too. 3) The ratings conundrum: Will get even more complicated. 4) Digital fragmentation: It has taken awhile—though it took Apple to make it trendy—and the truth is, it is just getting started. This is the natural consequence of compression and digitalization. Good for us for being in the lead. 5) CableCARDS/plug and play: Ah, the long meetings. Meetings with too many agendas. More delays. 6) Wall Street: Once again, too many companies will manage for the most fickle of constituents…and the telcos will get a wake-up call come October ’06. So there. Please send any disagreements to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Addendum: OK, I was down in New Mexico near Bandelier National Park trying to look ahead to cable’s top issues of ’06…using a cool Canon binocular with image stabilizers (like the ones my digital camera has). I can see clearly now! We’ve clearly got issues. But I was helped out by the T-shirt (the one under the shirt under the vest on the very sunny but cold day hiking through the Tsankawi prehistoric ruins) with The Outdoor Channel 2 Hi-Def (very big) fish on it. Thanks, Andy.