As CTAM Summit opens today, it appears CTAM itself has changed course radically in the past 12-18 months, going public with an effort to forge a unified cable voice to deliver a message to consumers and journalists about OnDemand, HD and Internet access. Under the umbrella campaign ‘Only Cable Can,’ there have also been marketing alliances between cable, Panasonic and Samsung. This seems to be a new CTAM. But looks can be deceiving, CTAM chief Char Beales argues. "While it’s true we’ve taken on a lot of new projects (and there will be more, if they prove successful), I think it’s important to note we continue to serve our members with the same broad array of products and services we always have: our conferences, our research, our Mark awards and our committee activities," she says. "The core of CTAM remains," although she admits the work it’s done lately "to jumpstart new product categories" has brought the group more visibility. And Only Cable Can is about to enlarge beyond the Top 10 MSOs, she says. A quartet of mid-sized cable ops is nearly ready to join CTAM’s marketing co-op; an announcement could come this week in Boston. The co-op will meet at Summit and the 4 mid-sized MSOs will attend those sessions. One area where CTAM has seen alterations is in the OnDemand arena, where it’s quickly become a unifying factor for the service. "Yes, we’ve herded a lot of cats…our OnDemand Consortium has put in place some of the building blocks for a successful product category, terms and nomenclature and best practices for user interface. We’ve created some agreement up front even though the [OnDemand] business models aren’t settled." Similarly, CTAM’s working to create a unified voice at retail. "You know cable isn’t easy to do business with, because there are 10 different companies with 10 different geographies, so bringing the 10 companies together has been a real winning strategy with the retailers…Some people believe having cable forge bonds with the consumer companies, which proves to the retail sales channel that cable is serious, is a big step forward."

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