This cable world of ours is a mix of new and old.

This month arguably offers viewers the best Sunday night of episodic viewing in recent cable history with the return of HBO’s The Sopranos and Entourage, new installments of Showtime’s terrific Henry VIII saga, The Tudors, and Discovery Channel/Discovery HD’s magnificent 11-part Planet Earth. Yet perusing the popular media, readers would still strain to find significant coverage of these fine series (not including The Sopranos, which grabbed plenty of ink and covers).

More from the past that lingers: "Cable was pummeled by telco heavyweights AT&T and Verizon in the Customer Respect Group’s Q1 rankings" of customer service efficiency, read CableFAX’s Data Briefs recently. Cablevision (7th) was alone among MSOs to break the top 30, it said, while AT&T was 4th, Verizon Wireless 5th, Verizon 9th, Qwest 26th, Cox 31st, Comcast 37th, Time Warner Cable 39th and Charter 48th.

On the plus side is the promotion of the cover subject in our April 2 issue, Joe Rooney of Cox, and his resolute commitment to providing the clearest message for the customer. Also heartening are the actions of Comcast, particularly its recognition of the importance of customer service and education for the consumer, which resulted in a new joint venture with Circuit City called Connect, a retail store where sales and consumer education receive equal billing. In this issue, Comcast EVP David Juliano explains the MSO’s strategy on that, customer service and the phases of the triple play.

Mike Grebb writes in this issue that cable operators should be wary of the technologies that have birthed new processes surrounding content. Expanding on that is our cover story, the first of a three-part series about cable’s content buyers. We’ve gone directly to the people who buy content at the cable operators and asked them about their needs. We feel this issue is of such importance that we will conduct more interviews with content buyers in future issues.

Another new wrinkle in this issue of CableWorld is a change or two on our cover, as our teaser bar and other copy have switched positions in anticipation of new postal regulations. Another development is the much-deserved elevation of Amy Abbey to associate publisher of sales. And stepping in for publisher Dave Deker, who departed for a non-cable venture, is group publisher Scott Gentry. In the grueling world of trade publishing, we’re glad Amy and Scott are on our side.

The Daily

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Chatter over whether Disney should spin off ESPN kicked up Friday after former NBC News journalist Dylan Byers reported that there are conversations regularly happening at Disney over whether the sports giant

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