Cox [COX] kicked off the Bear Stearns session promising to redouble its focus on expanding telephony, evp, eng/CTO Chris Bowick said. (He underscored the complexity of VoIP with one of the most esoteric Powerpoint slides we’ve ever seen.) Bowick asserted VoIP is "ready for prime time," but declined to reveal which markets would follow Roanoke, VA, down Cox’s IP telephony trail. Chief Jim Robbins noted he expects the FCC to serve as a "light regulatory regime" in order to speed adoption, although QoS standards would remain of prime importance. As for the speculation about Cox’s expansion plans, Robbins agreed that Cox was more apt to grow than contract, but said there’s "nothing out there that is for sale or that has come through the bankruptcy process" that is of interest. — Interesting recap of the ESPN battle from Robbins. His team "worked almost like a political campaign throughout our organization and throughout the communities we serve … doing our best to make sure people understood what was at stake here." — Media Conference Notes: New Hughes [HS] pres/CEO Chase Carey told Bear Stearns his company has seen key metrics improve, including subscriber acquisition costs, churn and avg return on subs opting for multiple set-tops. But he’s concerned about programming costs. They "are not where they should be." Hughes spends nearly 39% of pre-SAC dollars on video content. (That’s one area cable and satellite can relate.) A scrapper, Carey vowed to take on cable in the area where it’s had the most success. "The broadband space will get bloodier and bloodier," he predicted. "It’s just going to be a tougher place" to maintain dominance. — Viacom’s [VIA] Sumner Redstone isn’t ruling out acquiring a cable company. "I can see the day…where we would add more distribution, a cable system," he said. "It’s not in cards today, but we will look at all opportunities."

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