As we sat around the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day and gave thanks, my mind drifted to cable, as usual. So in between being thankful for things like my kids’ health and sweet potato pie, I found myself being thankful for the following: I’m thankful that Cox will remain in the hands of a real cable guy. You know, given how this industry has consolidated and its companies grown, it is no longer a given that the CEOs of the largest MSOs will have any cable pedigree whatsoever. In time, this industry could be in the hands of a lot of rich guys who jump from company to company like it was musical chairs, guys whose only talent seems to be that they learned the password to a very exclusive club of zillionaires. I’m thankful that Kyle McSlarrow has hit the ground running as head of NCTA. As is often the case when an outsider joins the cable fraternity, there’s some ramp-up time and a feeling-out period. But McSlarrow seems determined to move forward and appears downright eager to leave his mark. I’m thankful for C-SPAN, even if I don’t watch it nearly as much as I should. I’m thankful for the Reverend Al Green. I’m thankful for basketball. In fact, I’m not so sure than on my deathbed, I won’t be dreaming of sinking a game winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. And along that train of thought, I’m grateful for TNT’s NBA Halftime Show, featuring Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Sir Charles Barkley. I don’t think I’ve seen better chemistry on screen since William Powell and Myrna Loy. I’m grateful for the pages you’re reading right now. CableFAX has always been the most fun read in the biz, but now that I’m a regular contributor it’s allowed me to stay in touch with many of my old friends and colleagues. I’m glad Bob Johnson brought down the house when he inducted Tom Freston into the Cable Hall of Fame recently. Too few people really know how funny and charming Bob is, and I was delighted to hear that he had people rolling in the aisles that night in Denver. I’m thankful that after leaving BET, I’ve been able to provide for my family here in the Washington, DC, area, and that I did not have to uproot them to continue my career. I’m thankful for Rep John Murtha (D-PA), not because I’m for or against the war in Iraq, but because I believe that of all the rights we have in this country, none is dearer than the right of a simple, former car wash owner from Western Pennsylvania to speak his mind. I’m thankful that the telcos are getting into video. My sense is that no matter how much that fact will diminish this industry’s sense of brotherhood, the benefits of the increased operating efficiency such competition will engender at many MSOs will, in the long run, be a great trade off. I’m thankful for Steve Villano and Cable Positive. I’m thankful for Chris Rock, XM Radio and SportsCenter. I’m thankful for Steve Burke as he continues to keep operations humming at a company whose success is critical to the perception and market value of this entire industry. I’m thankful for Matt Polka and the ACA for never letting us stray too far from the principles upon which this industry was founded. And finally, Symonds says I’m thankful for 25 years in cable, and for the fact that, because I chose this industry, I’m able to put my head on the pillow at night confident that if God gave me the chance to start my career again, other than a few suits I wore, I wouldn’t change a thing. Curtis Symonds can be reached at: curtissymonds@yahoo.com

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Verizon, AT&T Pay $127mln for Overcharging Government Customers

Verizon and AT&T have agreed to pay a combined $127mln to settle lawsuits claiming they overcharged California and Nevada government customers for wireless services. Verizon will pay

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