How soon they forget. With December almost gone we’ve been surprised to by how little nostalgia we hear for what used to be the 12th month’s cable gathering, Western (though we fielded numerous inquiries from folks trying to figure out how to get a copy of CableFAX 100). Typical is CTAM’s Char Beales. When we asked how CTAM is using next month’s CES to take the place of Western, she confessed our phone call marked "the first time [Western] crossed my mind." She and NATPE chmn/Fox Nets pres/CEO Tony Vinciquerra brush away Western as nothing but a distant memory. "One less conference to go to is a good thing," he says. "A few well-centered, organized meetings … such as NAPTE and NCTA are just right." Beales agrees, pointing to National in April and SCTE’s Cable-Tec Expo in June as "sort of doing it" for the industry. "Now, could [those shows] be more optimally spread out in time? Maybe…" On the other hand, CableLabs’ Dick Green misses Western. "Most of the people I talk to miss the show. And we played a big part in it with CableNet." The growth of CableLabs’ winter & summer conferences (Feb 27-Mar 2, Westminister, CO) isn’t connected to Western’s demise, he believes. "The industry is focusing on its business and the things it needs to accomplish. It’s just doing it in other ways-smaller groups as opposed to a large contingent at Western. … The industry is very busy." — Travel Plans: For those who feel lost without Western, there are alternatives. The aforementioned CES kicks off in Vegas Jan 6 and runs through Jan 9. Cable’s small (but growing) contingent includes Charter’s Carl Vogel and Insight’s Michael Willner, who will discuss HD and other advanced techs. CTAM will conduct 2 separate CES tours: 1 for MSO execs and another for programmers. As always, a CableLabs contingent will make the rounds at CES and ESPN2 HD launches there with a Jan 6 extravaganza. NATPE’s annual confab heads to Vegas Jan 25-27 to focus on all things syndicated. Cable networks stepped up their participation in NATPE 3-4 years ago, as nets began signing more syndie deals, Vinciquerra says. Also on the calendar in Jan: SCTE’s Emerging Tec conference Jan 11-13, Huntington Beach, CA (for the sentimental it’s just 20 miles north of Anaheim). And don’t forget about reaching out to those nearby. "I see from the CTAM chapters increased attendance at events, particularly at year-end," Beales says. "Maybe people are gathering more locally than getting on an airplane."

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