Ah, Philadelphia in the summertime. Made for a scull on the river. Or a trip to a Delaware beach. Or, as our luck would have it, a convention center downtown. For CTAM … the one show that delivers a lot (and I mean a lot) of outsiders sharing another perspective … Sometimes funny. Sometimes thoughtful. Sometimes thought-provoking. And sometimes ludicrous. So it goes. But that’s not what’s bothering me these days. I’m afraid too many senior cable executives have done one of two things: 1) Visited Africa recently and were so impressed with the ostriches they decided to adopt their defense mechanism: ignore it and it’ll go away. 2) Or, they’ve succumbed to just one kind of speech: for Wall Street … not for the real world. One senior executive at one of the VERY big MSOs told USA TODAY that he didn’t see anything on the immediate horizon-or words to that effect-that provided any kind of a threat to cable operators. Last time I heard that was ’94 just as DirecTV launched. Another senior executive at a major cable system expressed the opinion that in the big picture, the challenges to one cable system were just a little bit of a bigger pie-or words to that effect. Last time I heard that was … Well, you know. So, every cable operator ought to say another prayer of thanks for inertia. Imagine what a graph might look like for the next decade if, heaven forefend, the telcos manage to repeat the growth curve satellite did? Pretty picture, huh? Should that come to pass, think that cable’s penetration would stay about the same? CTAM knows the answer to that … that’s why the cable-centric look at competition this year. And the return to "cable-centric" as the centerpiece, so to speak. Better than a head in the sand. And, just to make us pay closer attention, did anyone notice that America’s penetration of broadband access is about the number of homes that we used to say a cable network needed to be taken seriously? Can anyone in Philadelphia this week spell Akimbo? Or TotalVID? Or even Telco Media News? If your MSO-indeed your local cable system-doesn’t have a "war room" tracking the other guys, you’re in for some nasty surprises. These guys are serious this time. They have to be … you are going to eat their lunch by taking away something between 15 and 25% of their "land line" customers in the next few years. But, while you’re doing that, don’t forget to pay attention to your base. Take a small bit of intelligence from how politics work today: at all costs, protect the base.