I was in the mall Saturday and, much to my chagrin, Christmas decorations were everywhere. So rather than play the curmudgeon and rail against the fact that the Christmas season now starts, not the day after Thanksgiving, but the day after Halloween, I thought I’d piece together a list of gifts I hope Santa brings to some of my favorite cable people. (And Symonds says, think of this as an early Vegas line; it’s only a starting point and might change dramatically in the days ahead.) Char Beales: Success for "Only Cable Can," because while it is good, it is only a stepping stone to what this industry really needs – an answer to product-category classics like "Got Milk?" and "Pork, The Other White Meat." Henry Schleiff: Another salacious, scandalous trial with all the elements that result in high ratings…and a judge who allows cameras in the courtroom. Robert Sachs: Happiness back in Boston. The NCTA Staff: A president who can not only mitigate forces external to the industry – especially on the Hill and in the marketplace – but who can keep the contentious factions within it at peace as well. Mike Willner: Analysts who understand that operators like Insight don’t have to be huge to be great investment targets, and who comprehend that one of the biggest strengths of the mid-sized operators is that so many of them are incredibly well run. Jim Robbins: The Wisdom of Solomon as he takes his company private. Not having stockholders to answer to can empower a company and its CEO, but it can also be dangerous. George Bodenheimer: A swift, peaceful and, ultimately, affordable resolution to the unresolved NFL cable package. The last thing this industry needs is another bidding war that drives up rates while doing nothing more than relocating existing content to another cable channel. Bill O’Reilly: A large Christmas stocking to stuff in his mouth. Bill Schleyer and Ron Cooper: A sale that closes the door on a dark chapter of an otherwise terrific story about a cable company built from scratch. Michael Powell: A chance to once and for all shake any notion that getting his job was a matter of patronage, and to emerge as a voice of reason in a lame-duck administration that risks being high-jacked by ideologues. Matt Polka: The power to get up everyday and continue fighting the good fight; as well as the knowledge that the most defining battles in life are often the ones you wage against superior forces. Charlie Ergen: A book on the history of American business with a post-it note on a page explaining that in price wars, there is no such thing as a winner, only losers. Carl Vogel: Several shovels to help him dig out of the debt Charter’s been buried in since he took command. Fred Dressler: A shooting star to wish upon, as well as the good sense to make his wish that Santa can find George Bodenheimer’s gift in his bag. Manish Jha: Recognition for what the new president of NAMIC is, one of the brightest minds in cable and a walking billboard for minority hiring. Bob Russo: Continued growth and relevance for The Cable Center in ways that rely less on its bricks-and-mortar home in Denver and more on its relationship with cable’s providers of educational content. Next time: Santa’s cable gift list, part two. Curtis Symonds can be reached at curtissymonds@yahoo.com.

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