Last year about this time, CableWorld ran my column with virtually the same headline. The column was an internal dialogue questioning The Center, the industry and how the two might coexist, divorce or re-up.
As I was last year—in the interests of full disclosure—I’m a bit biased. I believe in The Cable Center and its mission. [Note: That’s my appellation, by the way. I started simply calling it that and Bill Bresnan, the point guy on the executive committee and board, liked it.] So, here we go again:
Some say: “Mission, what mission?”
I say: Pay attention. After last year’s annual board meeting, Larry Satkowiak and the executive committee got to work…and, as Larry rightly says, answered every question I posed. Mainly, they took a look in the mirror…didn’t really like all that they saw…rolled up their sleeves and talked with anyone and everyone in the industry who should have a stake in The Center. Based on the talks (not all hunky-dory, but all cordial), a strategic plan was devised…and, based on another round of meetings and feedback, revised. One thing, The Center is working more closely with the NCTA and other industry organizations (nicely, too; like the CTAM Oral History Project).
Some say: “So, what?”
I say: New mission…plays to The Center’s strength…bringing cable and higher education together. Back in ’05, there were some 21 programs (lots of them worthwhile)…too many. Today, there are six. Six damn good ones. For example, the C-SPAN distance learning class brings together students and faculty at the University of Denver base, Pace University in New York and George Mason University in D.C. The Mavericks Speaker Program sends cable luminaries to schools such as UCLA, NYU, Florida, Michigan State and Northwestern—so far…more to come. On top of that, The Center runs customized professional training programs for MSOs in Denver…and on location.
Some say: “Big deal…what about funding?”
I say: Well, for one thing, Larry and his staff took some big staffing cuts as he has made the place run like a business. Painful, but The Center is on a sound financial basis now and running like it should. The balance sheet is strong today. And, yep, another round of funding will be sought…but not until—and this is well under way—the reestablishment of ties with former and current contributors is tighter. Look for announcements in December about major MSO involvement and more…Meanwhile, the relationship with the University of Denver has been strengthened as well; with DU actually in line to help with contributions, expenses, overheads and more.
Some say: “What about fixing governance? The place seemed to be rudderless for years!”
I say: Come to Denver for the Cable Hall of Fame and pay attention to the reports from the board meeting that same day…the board will be restructured, tightened (much as the programs have been) and refocused. All of this, by the way, is thanks to Larry and the executive committee…they’ve put themselves on the line and delivered.