Viewpoints

Advancing the Access Network to Support Tomorrow’s Customer Needs

By Chris Bastian SVP, Engineering/CTO, SCTE-ISBE The cable operator’s access network is a key asset to providing Internet services to customers. Customers are astute, as they are constantly comparing service offerings between cable, telco, satellite, and wireless network operators. How does the cable operator stay ahead of this competitive curve? By pushing itself and its vendor…

Industry Employers Attract & Retain Talent with Attractive Benefits

By Pamela Williams, CAE, Executive Director, CTHRA This year, CTHRA launched a new benchmarking offering: CTHRA’s 2017 Cable and Telecommunications Employee Benefits Survey. The survey data was collected, compiled and analyzed by PwC Saratoga in comparison to employers overall based on data from PwC’s 2017 Health and Well-being Touchstone Survey. Through this analysis, we identified…

Technology Advancements Can Benefit Customer Service

By Chris Bastian, Senior Vice President/CTO, SCTE/ISBE The job of the cable industry’s customer service representative is always challenging. Customers rightfully expect their services to work all the time, every time, and those services are getting more and more complex and numerous. Beyond the traditional triple-play, cable network operators are offering home management and wireless…

In Search of Multiscreen Marketing Chemistry

By Jonathan Weitz, IBB Consulting At Cablefax’s annual TV Innovation Summit a few weeks ago, programmers, service providers and the technology world converged to talk about what comes next for driving multiscreen viewing. It’s an interesting time to have this conversation, as tech titans invest heavily in emerging areas like AR and VR, artificial intelligence…

Why 5G?

By Chris Bastian, Senior Vice President/CTO, SCTE/ISBE For wireless network operators, the buzz for many years now, dating back to at least 2008, has been about the next-generation wireless specification, or 5G, and when it will be generally available. Why the rush? What are the 5G capabilities that will be superior to the current 4G/LTE-Advanced…

Cable’s Accelerating Rate of Change

By Chris Bastian, Senior Vice President/CTO, SCTE/ISBE Coming up on my first anniversary of working at SCTE/ISBE, and having witnessed firsthand the outstanding presentations and exhibits at SCTE/ISBE Cable-Tec Expo 2016, I am struck by the enormous amount of technological change occurring simultaneously in our industry. Whether it’s in the access network, in enhanced video…

Cablefax TV Innovation Summit: Personalization Can Solve Content Economics

Two of the big themes at the Cablefax TV Innovation Summit in New York last month were personalization and pricing. Panelists such as Vicki Jones, senior vice president of AT&T Entertainment Group and Consumer Mobility Support, discussed ways—from content discovery to customer service—that the customer experience could be individualized and improved. Craig Moffett, principal and…

Predictive Alerting

By Chris Bastian, Senior Vice President/CTO, SCTE/ISBE Proactive Network Maintenance (PNM) technology is making great strides in locating faults and defects in the MSO’s network. As an example, with full bandwidth capture, network operators are now able to see the entire RF spectrum from the CPE’s point of view and detect defects and faults such…

Cable Gets Down to Business

Cable’s business revenues have come a long way since the days of selling HBO to hotels and bars. In fact, in this area the industry’s path mirrors that recommended in an article by AT Kearney’s Greg Portell for the upcoming September/October issue of MFM’s member magazine, The Financial Manager. Portell’s advice includes building “a line…

How Fast is Fast Enough?

By Chris Bastian, Senior Vice President/CTO, SCTE/ISBE The cable industry has not shied away from investing billions of dollars in upgrading its network infrastructure and customer premises equipment to support greater Internet access speeds. When data over cable, even prior to DOCSIS, was first launched in the mid-1990s, residential speeds were less than 10 Mbps.…

Think Outside the (Cable) Box

To the rest of the world “think outside the box” is a tired metaphor for innovative thinking. In the cable industry the first thought is probably around the “Ditch the Box” response to the FCC’s “Unlock the Box” proposal. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the cable industry’s future extends way beyond the set top…

Big Data Demystified

By Bruce Tuchman If you’ve been working in the media business over the past five to ten years, there’s a term you’ve no doubt heard tossed around frequently by market analysts, IT and research professionals: “Big Data.” It has quickly become the technology trend that is profoundly affecting the way we use information to improve…

Keeping ‘Community’ in Cable

CATV stands for Community Antenna Television. You don’t see the term used much anymore, but cable’s roots in the community are at as important today as they were nearly 70 years ago when the phrase was coined. When FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn spoke at our annual conference last month, MFM’s Media Finance Focus 2016, she…

Cable Operators’ Existing Wireless Offerings

By Chris Bastian, Senior Vice President/CTO, SCTE/ISBE For years, at least as far back as 2005, cable operators have been devising strategies for offering the so-called “quad-play”: voice, data, video and wireless. More and more, customers expect to receive their services regardless of where they are: at home, staying at a hotel, riding a train,…

Energy Matters

By Chris Bastian Senior Vice President/CTO; SCTE/ISBE The cable industry has focused its sights on energy management. Energy management assesses what the minimum amount of energy is to achieve an organization’s or, at a more micro-level, a region’s or facility’s needs, and plots what is necessary to meet those energy goals. It includes the study…

Network Virtualization: Its Benefits and Challenges

By Chris Bastian, Senior Vice President/CTO, SCTE/ISBE Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is a hot topic this year. Recent conferences, both inside and outside of cable, have focused significant panel time toward the topic, and NFV abstracts from many industry sources have been submitted for this year’s SCTE/ISBE Cable-Tec Expo. The traditional architecture for a network…

Why 2016 Is The Year of Addressability

By Dan Ackerman, SVP, Programmatic TV at AOL The average TV viewer in the U.S. watches more than four hours of programming daily. And marketers spend $71 billion each year to reach them. The consumer has 100 times more places and ways to access their favorite TV content than just 10 years ago. With so…

Adapting to Advertisers’ Holistic Approach

Nowadays the term “all digital” needs to apply to more than the cable industry’s architecture. It’s time to make digital a central component of the industry’s ad sales strategy. Programming networks and cable MSOs have already implemented digital technology to facilitate ad insertion on linear and VOD platforms. Now it’s time to extend the use…

The Chaos (Business) Theory

By Evan Shapiro, EVP Digital Enterprises, NBCUniversal “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” – Carl Jung “I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me.” – Bob Dylan There is difference between Randomness and Chaos. Randomness is indeterminable–even if you know every detail about an environment at…

DOCSIS 3.1 vs FTTH

By Dean Stoneback, Senior Director, Engineering & Standards for SCTE/ISBE Since the completion of the DOCSIS 3.1 specification, there has been a lot of discussion about whether DOCSIS 3.1 or Fiber To The Home (FTTH) is the best option for service providers. In the broadband communications industry, the majority of homes are serviced by coaxial…

Programmatic TV Opportunities for the Upfront

Audience fragmentation across hundreds of cable networks, the steady growth of video on demand and subscription growth with new virtual service providers like Netflix and Hulu have complicated the Upfront. In fact, each year cable networks are struggling to meet their upfront commitments, and available scatter ad inventory is becoming more and more scarce. Programmatic…

How Cable Can Get Its (Recruiting) Groove Back

Do you remember Ted Turner’s “I was cable before cable was cool” billboard and poster? As Turner explained in an interview for the Cable Center, he came up with the idea when the broadcast networks, which had rejected his invitation to co-fund a 24-hour news channel, decided to create their own following CNN’s successful launch.…

Why Soccer Is Netting Growing US Rights Fees—and Audiences

“Soccer is the sport of the future.” — American soccer legend Kyle Rote, Jr., 1974 “Soccer is America’s sport of the future—and always will be.” — Unknown Amazingly, no one seems to know who tacked on the pun at the end of Rote’s statement, but it’s been around for decades and is sometimes used after…

Broadband Continues to Deliver on its Promise for Cable

The year 2016 is off to a great start for the cable industry. Craig Moffett of MoffetNathanson recently raised several MSO industry stocks’ to a buy noting, “Cord cutting fears have been swept aside by unexpectedly strong market share gains in both video and broadband, both of which look sustainable and which have more than…

‘A Day in the Life’ of a Colleague Is a Day Well Spent

Viamedia has hundreds of sales people scattered across over 70 locations around the country, and they typically find themselves on the road for client meetings. The company also has a vast operations team in Kentucky helping to ensure our advertisers’ orders run as ordered, their ad copy is quality controlled, the research is completed, the…

Optimized Services: Keeping up with Wearables

It should come as no surprise that city dwellers (and even most rural denizens) expect to have access to the Internet anywhere, at any time, with rapid service delivery and speed. Best practices for optimizing bandwidth and data services for consumers on-the-move is a common subject of discussion among service providers of all sizes. For…

OTT Insomnia: What will Keep Industry Executives Awake in 2016?

As the clock counts down and closes out 2015, executives throughout the television and film industries will snuggle down in their beds thinking of the fast-paced year that has just passed. Just before they drift off into a peaceful slumber, unsettling thoughts will cross their minds–the “What Ifs” of 2016. With a new set of…

Cable Center Transition

It has been almost three years since Cablefax asked me to write a monthly story about cable history for The Skinny. This worked very well as I gathered materials for a short history of the cable industry, which came out in print last summer and recently as an e-book. I also announced my retirement last…

The Growing Importance of VOD Ad Revenues

VOD advertising is one of the potential bright spots for 2016 revenues. Two trends are driving this prediction. First, on demand has an increasing share of consumers’ time spent viewing. In addition, VOD ads deliver greater value to advertisers. The VOD Ad Market What’s attractive to advertisers are the growing audience for VOD ads and…

Happy Birthday, DOCSIS!

I did not want the year to end without recognizing the twentieth anniversary of one of cable’s seminal events–the “invention” of DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification). In the last year, I talked with Dick Green, John Malone, Rouzbeh Yassini, Tom Moore, Pam Anderson, Brian Reilly and Robert Cruickshank. Some of these names are…

Diversity in Cable By the Numbers

After the Primetime Emmys back in September, Viola Davis caused quite a stir with her comments regarding available opportunities for women of color. Later that night,  I went to YouTube and watched her acceptance speech, in which she conveyed what many women of color in the entertainment and cable industries feel. The heart of what…

Women in Cable: Taking Risks

Earlier this month, I attended a joint meeting of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) and Comcast’s Beltway Employee Resource Group (ERG). The topic was “Empowerment of Fearlessness” and the aim was to empower women with a sense of self worth. A panel of powerful and successful women from various backgrounds shared their career wins, losses,…

Password Sharing: Today’s Version of Stealing Cable Service?

A growing chorus is calling attention to the parallel between sharing a password for TV Everywhere access or an OTT service and theft of cable service. Those voices include media analysts at the Jeffries global investment banking firm who likened password theft to earlier instances in the industry’s history, when piracy “took the form of…

The Evolution of Politics and Media

During the recent Republication debates in Colorado, I found myself thinking about the relationship between the dominant media of the time and politicians. There is a symbiotic relationship here we cannot ignore—they really need each other to succeed. The considerable research in this area has concentrated on the impact of television starting with the Kennedy/Nixon…

Programmatic Advertising Doesn’t Happen Without Linear Television

Programmatic advertising is growing and evolving rapidly. One recent report from IDC and The Trade Desk projects that programmatic will constitute 13% of spending in linear TV advertising by 2019, growing from $50 million in 2014 to $11.4 billion in 2019. Even with the rapid adoption of TVE and OTT, and the growing penetration of…

How Can We Bank On The Future Of Digital Video?

Although we continue to hear people use the old expression, “You can take that to the bank,” the times when they’re actually talking about a guaranteed investment are becoming increasingly few and far between. That’s particularly true when the discussion concerns the outlook for cable’s digital revenue business. In the last few weeks alone, there…

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

What would you say if someone asked your advice about embarking on a career in cable? How would you respond if a headhunter contacted you about the chance to join a leading organization in an emerging industry? These scenarios, ones with which I’m sure you can identify, make me think of that timeless question from…

Is ‘Broadcast Quality’ the End Game for OTT Video?

Over-the top (OTT)–or Internet–video is currently in a transition. What was an innovative novelty for most viewers and video providers/operators is quickly becoming THE business. Arguably one of the greatest challenges in this transition from childhood to adolescence is improving the consistency of the viewing experience, with current industry concerns around subscriber churn driving much…

John Walson and Service Electric

John Walson is one of the three pioneers credited with the founding of the cable industry. Davidson, Parsons and Walson all independently experimented with the technology to create a cable system in 1948, but it was Walson who is generally credited with creating the earliest sustainable business. Service Electric, the company founded by Walson, is…

A New Wrinkle in an Old Problem: Video Service Churn

In strategic planning (and stock picking), the admonition is always, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” However, the burgeoning field of OTT video services could learn something from cable TV’s history. These services are experiencing churn rates that look a lot like those in the early days of multi-pay. Cable MSOs integrating OTT…

Continental Cablevision

The cable industry has a long history of mergers and acquisitions. While many people concentrate on talking only about the new company, the former owners still have a “life after the sale” that we should not forget. Their stories and continuing contributions to the cable industry and our society have been just as important. There…

Channeling Cable’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

Do you remember the 1996 “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” campaign? It announced the programming service’s move into original programming including “The Sopranos,” “Sex and the City,” “Band of Brothers,” and the series that has everyone talking dragons, “Game of Thrones.” Today it could be used to position HBO NowSM, which allows customers to subscribe…

To Rate or Not to Rate? The Death of Performance Reviews

Whether your company considers performance ratings and reviews a cornerstone of its philosophy or just a good way to keep managers accountable for their employee’s performance, there is a growing trend that may challenge the foundation of the prescribed employee performance review. Once thought an organizational necessity, the formalized performance rating and review has come…

C-SPAN and the Well-Informed Citizen

In the early days of television, many people had a vision that TV would play a prominent role in education and keep us informed about our government. We called the 1950s the “Golden Age of Television” because early television programming reached to fulfill that promise. In the early 1960s, the major networks emphasized ratings and…

Blazing a New Frontier

The industry’s future is promising. That’s my takeaway from Media Finance Focus 2015, the 55th annual conference for MFM and its BCCA subsidiary, the media industry’s credit association. However, as our conference theme suggested, we need to be “Blazing a New Frontier.” Or, as Michael J. Cole, SVP & controller for National Geographic Society observed…

Jim Davidson and the Founding of Cable

A couple of months ago, I introduced Ed Parsons, Jim Davidson, and John Walson as the three people The Cable Center credits for “founding” cable television. In the last installment, I gave you the background on Ed Parsons; today, I would like to introduce you to James Y. Davidson. In his wonderful book Blue Skies,…

Our ‘Omni-platform’ Ecosystem Requires Integrating Solutions

I’ll admit it, I’m still having a hard time referring to this year’s gathering of industry executives in Chicago as “INTX: The Internet & Television Expo.” But, I get it; it cannot be the “Cable Show” because it isn’t just about just cable and hasn’t been for a long time. Just look at the agenda…

Five Tips for Setting Measurable Goals for Your Career in Cable

So you’re young and hungry to make your mark in the cable industry. But as anyone in the industry well knows, there is no one path to take to the top. Consider this image: Your career is a hiking trail. There are many different ways to reach the summit, depending on which trail you take,…

Four Basic Pillars of Sales

Though sales is an integral part of many industries, I feel especially lucky to work in one as exciting as media. Discussions range from TV to digital to programmatic, and there is not a day that goes by without a new article describing the ways companies are changing to meet the needs of their clients.…

The Time to Embrace TVE is Now

In his editorial remarks for “Cablefax’s Guide to the Multiscreen Universe,” associate publisher Michael Grebb comments that, whether we like it or not, the world of digital video has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. However, as this special edition of Cablefax magazine goes on to show, developments such as over-the-top (OTT) services haven’t…

Improving Veteran Hiring Practices in the Cable Industry

By Jon Dorsey “Somewhere a True Believer is training to kill you. He is training with minimal food or water, in austere conditions, training day and night. The only thing clean on him is his weapon and he made his web gear. He doesn’t worry about what workout to do – his ruck weighs what…

The New Content Model

Apple TV, Sling TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, HBO Now, CBS All Access, and Noggin—the list keeps getting bigger every day. It reminds me of a popular Bob Dylan lyric where he sang, “… there was revolution in the air.” A new model for television programming is replacing the old. Cable, the…

A Newbie’s Guide to Creating the Job You Want

By Anna Snead, Senior Casting and Development Manager, Investigation Discovery and Discovery Life Channel — We are typically hired for very specific job functions in the cable industry, and it’s hard to work outside of those boundaries—especially within a corporate environment. And it can be even more stifling if you feel there’s more you can…

New Wave Customer Experience Technology

By Walker Anderson A few weeks back, I tried to find a t-shirt with the phrase: “Just unplug it, and plug it back in.” There seemed to be some odd, geeky, comedy to sporting the world’s most coveted self-help tech tip.  Of course, the industry term is “power-cycling,” and it’s a quick-fix step we routinely…

The Cost of Regulation

On February 26, The Cable Center modified its cable history timeline by adding the two latest actions of the FCC. The first was a vote to preempt state broadband laws. The second was a vote to reclassify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Both passed 3-2 along party…

Measuring Your Influence in Social Media With SWOT Analysis

With the cable network programming industry constantly evolving, intermittent assessments of your social media influence are key to success. A smart social media strategy can transform a company from few followers to many, bringing with them brand loyalty. Social media is an essential tool. It provides instant metrics, offering programmers and marketers valuable consumer feedback.…

The Sunset of CableCARDs Means a New Day for DCAS Collaboration

CableCARDs: yet another example of how difficult it is to regulate solutions for rapidly changing technologies. As has been with this case, the result can be significant investments in research and development without the consumer demand to provide that much-needed return on investment (ROI). Now that the sun is setting on regulation requiring this solution…

Introducing a New Kind of Show. For a New Kind of World.

When you a press button on a handheld object and a full-length movie appears out of thin air, you know something extraordinary is happening in the world of media and communications. Almost daily, business models are being blown apart, re-conceived and redefined. There has never been a more exciting, and occasionally unnerving, time to be…

Super Bowl Madness: Secrets for Creating Your Own Championship Wins

With the Seattle Seahawks facing a 1-yard line to victory, the New England Patriots changed the game with one play. Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass with 26 seconds remaining during last night’s Super Bowl XLIX. It was an incredible high point that led to a poignant moment in a heart-racing game. The Super Bowl…

Ed Parsons Brings Cable to Astoria

On a breezy hilltop near Astoria, Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River stands a monument dedicated to Leroy “Ed” Parsons. He was one of the people credited with the invention of cable television in the United States. A number of dignitaries attended the dedication ceremony in 1968, including NCTA President Frederick Ford, to…

Assessing Cable’s WiFi Future

As Cablefax’s Joyce Wang recently observed, 2015 is going to be a big year for WiFi. ABI research said it expects WiFi to enjoy double-digit growth rates for mobile phones, tablets, e-readers and other portable media devices over the next five years.  Better still, cable system operators are well-positioned to capitalize on the growing demand…

Historical Moments

President Obama’s recent announcement about the change in strategy toward Cuba is something I never expected to see in my lifetime. While historians will eventually debate whether the new policy is successful, we are likewise experiencing a few historical moments in the cable industry. After a brief comment on Cuba, let’s examine three current issues…

Title II Uncertainty Is Chilling the Outlook for ISP Spending

As expected, the FCC has issued a notice of proposed rule-making (NPRM) this month seeking public comment on a proposal allowing online video service providers to operate as MVPDs. While it’s too early in the process to anticipate what type of final regulations may emerge from that discussion, we could already be seeing the chilling…

Take One Last Swing at Risk

“Take a ‘one-last-swing-at-it’ approach,” advocated an NBCUniversal media executive at a recent round table I attended. He wants a culture of risk taking where people are relentlessly pursuing the act of looking at things differently. But really, who doesn’t want their team to seek out new innovative and creative ideas? In theory that may be…

The Presidency, Television and Media

In my family room, I sit in a big leather chair where my Kindle Fire and the remote from my television are within easy reach. I imagine that many people have a similar place to read, browse the web, or simply watch television. A couple of weeks ago, I looked at the C-SPAN 2 schedule…

The Sky Isn’t Falling

Recent developments affecting the cable industry have been eliciting “I told you so’s” from prognosticators who for years have been predicting that “Over The Top” (OTT) delivery of video programming would result in the demise of cable’s digital video revenue stream. They include: A blog by the FCC Chairman Wheeler calling for the classification of…

Competing with the Government

In November, voters in Boulder, CO, will have the opportunity to vote for or against a measure to authorize the City of Boulder to provide Internet and Telecommunications service (including cable television) to its citizens. These “municipal overbuilds” are nothing new and there is ample history to question the long-term viability of any such venture,…

Cable Should Maximize Business and Enterprise Revenue with Expanded Offerings

By Emily Nikoo, Executive Vice President, Blonder Tongue Cable operators looking to maximize and maintain revenue opportunities in the competitive world of small, medium and enterprise business services need to offer comprehensive solutions for a wide variety of verticals. That includes doctor’s offices, retail stores, fitness centers, corporate or government campuses, universities, airports, hospitals, arenas…

Rewriting the Job Description for Cable Sales

By Barrett Riddleberger Cable sales professionals today find themselves in a new era in which legacy brands face competition from small, nimble carriers seeking to incrementally increase market share. The future may level the playing field between the two. Take it from Joel Deuterman, CEO the Erie, PA-based firm, Velocity Networks, whose company is having…

Municipal Networks Should Be Considered on Their Business Merits

A number of factors have been driving renewed interest in municipally-owned broadband networks. They include the enthusiasm generated by Google’s invitation to 34 cities in nine metropolitan areas around the U.S. to compete for its selection of one city as the next destination for its Google Fiber project. “Hundreds of mayors from across the U.S.…

My Tour of a Comcast Xfinity Home

When I knocked on the door, two dogs started barking furiously. That was the old security system. Now this home in Arlington, VA, is a Comcast Xfinity “Extreme Home,” wired with the MSO’s latest tech, including smart home features. It is one of about ten homes across the country that Comcast opened up (with the…

Ted Turner’s Dangerous Idea

I attended the annual Korbel Dinner at the University of Denver last week where Anna and John Sie received the Josef Korbel Humanitarian Award. Afterward, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Ambassador Christopher Hill discussed tumultuous international hotspots and my mind drifted to the communications revolution that started with the internationalization of cable programming.…

Are Cable Customers Creepy and Ugly?

According to good looking Rob Lowe, featured in some new DirecTV ads this week, you’re super creepy or ugly if you choose cable over DirecTV. To illustrate this point, we’re presented with versions of the actor sporting a receding hairline and pervy tendencies. Well, thanks Rob! But who are you to judge? Maybe I don’t…

Seizing Cable’s Digital Ad Sales Potential

Local advertising sales represents a tremendous opportunity for cable system operators. But I’m not talking about those two-three minutes of local ad avails you get from cable networks. What’s being spent there is just part of a much larger and rapidly deepening pool of marketing dollars flowing into local markets from local businesses. Digital advertising’s…

History and the Future of Cable

As a student of cable history, I am continually searching for patterns from the past that might contain a key to the future. As I developed the three-generation model for cable, the two most prevalent forces that mark the beginning or end of a generation have been a combination of technological innovation and government regulation.…

5 Secrets for Managing Change Amidst Merger Mania

Merger mania is sweeping the media business and there is no turning back. According to a report by PwC, the number of mergers and acquisitions between major companies increased exponentially in 2014. Just imagine the impact. Say you work for Time Warner Cable. One morning you woke to find out you just became a potential…

The Success of Streaming Media Players

Streaming media devices are unique among the connected CE devices Parks Associates studies because they are singular in their purpose. Connected game consoles, smart TVs, and smart Blu-ray players have more than one use case, and often their value is tied to this flexibility. By contrast, streaming media devices are a means to an end: they…

Can You Imagine Cable Abandoning its Video Roots?

Unimaginable as it may seem, a growing number of cable system operators are considering discontinuing the video delivery business that sparked the industry’s creation in the first place. As Cablefax’s “Indy Show Notebook” reported, the shift, which some cable system operators have already initiated, is driven by seeing operating margins drop to “minimal” amounts while…

Celebrating NCTC at the Independent Show

Once again, The American Cable Association (ACA) and the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), which represent many independent cable operators, will meet in Kansas City at the end of July for the Independent Show. This is an especially noteworthy event for the NCTC as they celebrate their 30th anniversary. There are a significant number of…

Recapturing the Spirit That Launched Our Industry

The Independent Cable Show will be held at the end of this month. A July family-friendly conference is a longstanding tradition for the NCTC and ACA groups that that represent our industry’s “mom and pop” cable system operators. These include Service Electric, which describes itself as “family owned and locally operated since 1948” and whose…

The Wow Factor of Leadership: 5 Strategies for Building Your Executive Presence

Surely ESPN’s executives had to show grace under pressure when many of their WatchESPN video streaming users were unable to access the 2014 FIFA World Cup USA-Germany game last week. WatchESPN viewership for the first half of the match reached a whopping 1.4 million simultaneous viewers—a record for the WatchESPN service. Projecting confidence and decisiveness…

The Golden Age of Cable Programming

Lately, I have been reading a number of media writers who have labeled our current period as the “Golden Age of Television.” While I can certainly understand the sentiment, textbooks already refer to the Golden Age of Television as the period from about 1948 until 1960. A brief review of other “Golden Ages” in media…

Big Data Isn’t Just for the Big Companies

As Cablefax has previous reported, cable MSOs that can harness “big data” are able to more effectively identify the product and services that particular customers are most likely to buy. They also know the optimal sales price as well as the best time and method for making the offer. I understand that big data sounds…

Title II and Cable Regulations

If you had the opportunity to listen to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler at the recent NCTA Cable Show, you heard him say, “Title II is on the table.” (If you did not hear him, you can still go to the C-SPAN website and view the video). In order to understand his statement, you need a…

Maybe the Future of Advertising Will Be Televised After All

Thanks to a lot of help from the cable industry, television’s role in the future of advertising is looking a lot brighter tham many had expected. For several years, there have been predictions that television advertising would diminish as marketers moved more of their ad dollars to digital media platforms. There is certainly data to…

To Be or Not to Be – Software Patents and MSOs

MSOs are often faced with patent litigation dealing with different aspects of complex technology. One particular category of patents, software patents, are often utilized against MSOs to allege infringement regarding technology as broad as Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (“DOCSIS”) to domain name lookup requests. Although existing case law allows the patenting of software,…

Primal Screaming

The howl could be heard throughout the tortured land last week. It was a primal scream. The Internet was dead! The future was over! New creativity and entrepreneurial vigor had been cruelly deceived and emasculated by the forces of evil led by the nefarious head of the FCC. You did know, of course, the screamers…

Cable Transitions to a High Technology Business

When we write about the founding of the cable industry, we usually tell the story of Ed Parsons, Jimmy Davidson, and John Walson. We mark the start of the Second Generation of Cable by telling the story of TelePrompTer and Scientific-Atlanta demonstrating the power of satellite transmission at the 1973 NCTA Show. There are several…

From New York to Hong Kong – How to Master Leading Virtual Teams

Leading teams in today’s business environment is more complicated when group members are located across different cities, states and continents. And today, more than ever, people are leading—or participating in—virtual teams. When managing a virtual team, it’s critical that you have some of the “musts” for high-performance teams: purpose, vision, goals and priorities, operating agreements,…

Cut Some Slack to America’s Independent Cable System Operators

With ACA (the American Cable Association) holding its annual Summit in Washington, DC last week, we had a chance to hear about the issues that keep our country’s independent cable operators up at night. Unfortunately, a number of ACA’s members have lost more than sleep over the past year; they lost their livelihoods. In the…

The Paradox of Choice – Commentary by Steve Effros

  A decade ago Professor Barry Schwartz wrote a book entitled “The Paradox of Choice.” It’s still worth reading, but you can watch a 20-minute highly successful TED presentation (TED.com) and get the gist of what has become almost standard thinking in the psychology community. The bottom line: while some choice is good, too much…

Television Franchise Fees in the UK

On my way from central London to Heathrow last week, I asked our driver about a recent newspaper report concerning the potential increase in the television license fee that each household must pay. (This is how the BBC is funded.) Our driver pointed out that nonpayment of the fee is a criminal offense and that…

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Happy New Year: DISH-Disney Busy Talking, No Big Fights on Horizon (Yet)

As Dec 31—the industry's unofficial programming contract sell-by date—nears, it has been relatively quiet. Perhaps merger talk is taking precedent over any big dust-ups, but given the history, chances

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Research

Consumers are watching more TV on their mobile devices and are watching one piece of content across several locations and times aka "place-shifted viewing", according to an annual report on consumer trends

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That Other Dispute: Viacom Dismisses CVC Claims as Bundles Draw Criticism

While Time Warner Cable and CBS ' retrans dispute continues to burn, there is another programming showdown percolating. It has been relatively quiet since Cablevision filed its antitrust lawsuit against

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Rebrand

WealthTV will change its name to AWE come Oct 1. The rebrand is an acronym for "A Wealth of Entertainment" and is meant to better reflect the broad appeal of its programming. No changes are

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Boston

As the nation mourns the death and injuries in Boston, family, friend and coworkers were frantically trying to get in touch with loved ones Mon who were at the race. Companies tried to account for employees

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Earnings

Partly due to weaker sales, SeaChange swung to a loss of $6.8mln vs a small profit of $777K a year ago. "We continue to reduce our overall sales, general and administrative costs and manufacturing costs and

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67 Million

Commentary by Steve Effros Well, that number was up to April. Apple has sold sixty-seven million iPads in the two years since it was introduced! That's more than the total number of cable subscribers in

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Talent Everywhere Shakes Up How We Do Business

By Lisa Chang, SVP of Human Resources, Turner Broadcasting System Inc., and Eric Hawkins, SVP of Human Resources, Discovery Communications For the past several years, our industry has been in the midst of what

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Programmers Page-Disney Shines On

Much has been written about the synergistic dynamo known as The Walt Disney Co —and the Disney Channel has been a linchpin of those efforts. In fact, since Gary Marsh took full control of Disney Channel

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Lightening or Lightning?

Commentary by Steve Effros Too much happening at once. First, the good news. Kudos to the NCTA, and the ACA for being instrumental in explaining to the FCC why the "viewability" rules should end. The FCC

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Programmer's Page – Spiking the Balls…

TV awards shows are often stuffy affairs in which dressed-to-the-nines celebs sit politely in large theaters or ballrooms trying to look... composed. That's decidedly not the case at Spike TV 's

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The Intermesh

Commentary by Steve Effros We've long known that the cable infrastructure was the core of our business. At least some of us have. The rest are finally beginning to understand. While we've certainly had

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Programmer's Page – Giving Reality a Good Name…

Let's all just face it: Reality TV has gotten a bad name. And unfortunately for all of us, some of the highest rated reality fare is the lowest brow junk. It's gotten so bad that people have started

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Reaching Cusp

Commentary by Steve Effros How long does a business plan last? We're in the process of finding out regarding broadcast television, and the broadcasters know it. That's why their lawyers are running to

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Programmer's Page – Turning Your Kid into a TV Test Subject

After Sanford Bernstein 's recent research report claimed that kids' networks (not just Nick ) are getting "decimated" in streaming homes vs non-streaming HHs, we decided to turn to CableFAX's

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Through The Looking Glass

We're gathered in Boston this week to take our traditional once-yearly look at where the cable industry has been, and is going. It's always

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Guest Column – Making the Case for Diversity

By Nicol Turner-Lee, Ph.D., pres/CEO of NAMIC The expanding reach of cable broadband service to more than 126 million households, and its impact on the more than 1.8 million individuals employed in the

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Guest Column – Cable's Hosted Services – The Secret Sauce

From a technology perspective, U.S. businesses have never been better positioned for success. That's because they now

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Programmer's Page – CableTime, Baby…

Who said the Upfronts were only for content networks? Not Time Warner Cable Media , which continues to treat its local and regional advertisers to same kind of swanky, celebrity-fueled frivolity that's

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Exclusivity

Commentary by Steve Effros Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai have just joined a very exclusive club. They were both just sworn in as the newest Commissioners at the FCC. Congratulations, and condolences

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Programmer's Page – Must See Everything, Everywhere…

Gather 'round, children (ie, those of you born after 1985). There was once a mythical land where TV shows could bag a 25- or 30-share, and people of all races, creeds, ages and genders could congregate

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Aereo Arbitrage

Commentary by Steve Effros How small a regulatory loophole can you squeeze through? That's the game of regulatory arbitrage; find the miniscule difference between what you are doing and what the

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Programmer's Page – A Jane of All Trades

Actress Jane Seymour, perhaps best known for her TV role as "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman," has a long history with Hallmark . She has been in 3 Hallmark movies in the past 3 years, the most recent being "Lake

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Back to Basics… Again

Commentary by Steve Effros I wrote a column in 2008 entitled "Back to Basics". It was triggered by the "Net Neutrality" debate, and specifically the whole "BitTorrent" issue of that time. Here's how

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Programmer's Page – Spitzer's Next Act…

In case you've been in a coma and missed it, Current TV has gotten plenty of attention lately—not all of it welcome. Let's recap: the net hired Keith Olbermann in June only to fire him 9 months later

Jack Be Nimble

Steve Effros says Nimble TV may face the same kind of legal questions that have vexed Aereo.

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On The Other Hand…

Commentary by Steve Effros There's usually a simple structure to the political and policy debates we engage in. Unfortunately, that structure is so often ritualized that you can be virtually assured of

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Programmer's Page: Talent Show

Most of us know the Walter Kaitz Foundation for its stellar work raising big bucks during its Diversity Week gala. But Kaitz works tirelessly all year to maximize opportunities and promote a diverse cable

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Eighteen Clicks

Commentary by Steve Effros I decided to catch up this week. With the beginning of a new season of HBO's "Game of Thrones" being heralded, and folks I respect telling me that it really is a very well done

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What's In A Name?

Commentary by Steve Effros We've reached a very interesting point in the evolution of competitive information delivery. We can't even adequately define what, or at least how we should characterize what

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Hair On Fire / Redux

Commentary by Steve Effros In May, 2010 I wrote a column entitled "Hair On Fire" about the folks running around Washington proclaiming the imminent death of the "Free Open Internet" if something wasn't

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5/50

Commentary by Steve Effros According to a recent study, five percent of those using the American health care system account for over fifty percent of the expenditures. That's a pretty remarkable statistic

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Households Rising

While Comcast downplayed the idea that improved housing starts helped stem 4Q sub losses, the popular sentiment is that they played a role—something that bodes well for the entire MVPD industry. Housing

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Tis the Season: Cablevision Makes Consumer Reports' Holiday List

Ah, Consumer Reports ... We're used to the Consumers' Union pub dinging the cable industry over its lack of a la carte and high prices. Remember a few years ago when Consumer Reports went after

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Best Workplaces

WICT distinguished Time Warner Cable as the top op and NBCU the top programmer among the Best Companies for Women

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BOA ML Notebook

NBCU 's cable channels are blazing, said NBCU CEO Steve Burke , noting how they all and particularly USA should outperform going forward due to CPMs and affil fees that don't match their stellar

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In Your Own Words: Reflections on 9/11

There is no shortage of excellent programming to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, but what has not been told—and we think ought to be—are your own reflections and personal experiences from that day

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Indie Voices

For our August Roundtable, CableFAX invited independent programming heads to discuss the programming landscape from their viewpoints. Our panelists are: Entertainment Studios chmn/CEO Byron Allen , HDNet CEO

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Zas Talk: Discovery Chief on Education & Shifting Planet Green

David Zaslav has made it clear that Discovery 's beachfront network real estate has to be used to its fullest capacity. He first indicated in Feb that a rebranding was probably in the works for Planet

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Straight Talk

Commentary by Steve Effros I got a call the other day from a reporter in Boston. I spend a lot of time talking with reporters all over the country about cable television. It could have been retransmission

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Game of Demos

For cable nets, it really does come down to finding your exact target demo—and then hitting it squarely between the eyes. But when it comes to the Television Critics Assoc tour now taking place in L.A., your

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Spotify

Commentary by Steve Effros Sign up for Spotify. Not because I have some vested interest in this particular music service; a service that is ad-supported, or a tiered subscription service depending on your

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Still at a Crossroads: New Media Becoming an Old Problem

While MTV Networks Ent Group pres Doug Herzog firmly believes the TV is "still the straw that stirs the [media] drink," like most industry execs he wonders how long that viewpoint will hold true. Regardless

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Prime Emmys Notes

Cable gained more overall nods this year than last while broadcast's total fell, but the Big 4 dominated the major categories. Excluding guest star nods and miniseries/movie, broadcast earned 9 of the top

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Discriminating

Commentary by Steve Effros I consider myself a discriminating observer, a discriminating reader, a discriminating eater—and none of those are considered bad. To be discriminating is to make judgments

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Place Your Bets

A more accurate assessment of potential growth in OTT plays and models may come from the purchase price of Hulu —and with it indirect commentary on the threat of cord cutting. Owing to a blog post by CEO

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Oh Say Can't You See?

Commentary by Steve Effros This is yet another of my rants against the wanton, abusive use of the "bugs" cluttering up television screens. The inane visual blight reached new heights this week with the

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Linguistics

MSNBC analyst Mark Halperin was suspended indefinitely Thurs after saying he felt Pres Obama acted like "kind of a d***" during a Wed press conference. Calling the comment "completely inappropriate and

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Cable Computers

Commentary by Steve Effros We've never been very good at naming things. We tend to call them what they are, rather than consider the marketing and perception angles of what they do. "Pay Per View" was a

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Tasty Target?

Hulu has hired Guggenheim Partners and Morgan Stanley to help facilitate its sale, according to reports, which begs only 1 important question: who is willing to pony up for the popular property. That owners

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Finally

Commentary by Steve Effros Technology isn't the "answer" to anything, it's simply a tool. But at this year's Cable Show a relatively new technology—widely misunderstood but often cited—turned

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Long, High or Winning Jumps?

Comcast certainly isn't sitting on its hands after taking control of NBCU , and this week proved it's willing to swing for the fences as well as hit for average. As programming synergies are

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Defining Moment

Commentary by Steve Effros What's "cable television"? After all this time, that may sound like a strange question, but it seems to come up a lot. Right now it's a question both in the legal sense, at

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Sports Game

Perhaps the understatement of '11, courtesy of CBS honcho Les Moonves : "The sports landscape is changing drastically." That's true in media virtually across all leagues, orgs and competition levels

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Priorities

Commentary by Steve Effros Craig Moffett and the folks at Bernstein Research do an excellent job of keeping tabs on the economic reality of the telecommunications business. They have just published a new study, entitled "The Poverty Problem" which goes much farther. It focuses attention on the realities of the distribution of income in this…

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Working Vacation

Adorable as a puppy and wearing a robin's egg blue shirt—a key portion of the apparent Thai school uniform—a 7-yr-old boy sat watching Cartoon Network for at least 2 hours, transfixed. The location was a

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On Revolving Doors

By Steve Effros I've been out of the country for the past two weeks, and I was disheartened to see, upon my return, that we're once again in the throes of an unthinking disparagement of revolving

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Being Smart

Smart nets know it's not enough to just offer smart phone apps. To best target your viewers, you need to understand the impact smart phones are having on their lives. That's why Spike TV commissioned a

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A Chat with WE tv's Kim Martin

While "Bridezillas" begins its 8th season June 12, WE tv has moved beyond nuptials. It's focusing on families now, the net's pres/GM Kim Martin says. WE tv isn't just about weddings anymore

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Copyright

By Steve Effros Last week I commented on the renewed debate regarding the spectrum. This week it's another "oldie but goodie": copyright. Yes, once again we are starting a new round of discussions on

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Spectrum

By Steve Effros The more things change, the more they stay the same. That's certainly true in the recurring debates about appropriate use of the public spectrum. It was that use, after all, which resulted

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NBCU's Long Horse Racing Stretch

Horse racing isn't healthy, virtually from top to bottom and much to my dismay. Yet despite infringement of its turf by myriad sports and other gambling activities, the sport's famous Triple Crown

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Headlines

By Steve Effros Whenever I speak to a group about cable issues, I get the inevitable question "what are you going to talk about... what's the title of your speech." Well, as most of you in the industry

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Bric-a-Brac

I'm more looking forward to learning the viewership numbers for ESPN 's Thurs NFL Draft coverage than seeing who the Redskins select, chiefly because the team constantly disappoints me on myriad

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Conversion

By Steve Effros This week's headline; Netflix is about to have more video subs than Comcast. But as I've noted before, that's not really a meaningful comparison. Netflix still hasn't caught up

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Big Break

What's next, a starring role? Following last year's giveaway of a visit to the set of Showtime 's "Dexter," NCTA teamed with Investigation Discovery to help drive early registration for The Cable

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Look Up, Look Around

By Steve Effros Every now and then in this column I try to point to the obvious and say; "hey, this is obvious!" But for some reason we're all guilty of not noticing until many times it's too late

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Male Modeling

Discovery Comm has little to lose in rebranding HD Theater as Velocity later this year—Theater averaged a paltry 74K total viewers in 1Q prime—but I'm not sure how much upside a net targeting upscale

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Government Standardized Explanations

By Steve Effros Do you know what the Research Octane Number (RON) is of the gas you put in your car? How about the MON (Motor Octane Number) or the PON (Pump Octane, or ANI, Anti-Knock Index Number, the

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Retrans Reform… From Vanguard to Victory

This week's 18th ACA Summit in Washington, D.C., caps a year of great achievement for the independent cable community. As I look at the horizon, I see ACA's paramount objective continuing to be

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Turner's 1st Shining Moment

Although Mon night's title game produced several new members of the Intl Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers , Turner pres, sales, distribution and sports David Levy views the company's

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iPaditis

By Steve Effros Oh, the places you’ll go! Theodor Geisel wrote that in 1990. I happily added it to my “complete collection” of the Dr. Seuss books, a special gift from my wife (she really does know me!) at our wedding, many years ago. I remembered it (and you should all re-read it…) while I…

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Noshing On Niches

With myriad cable nets specializing in non-fiction fare and viewers gobbling up the genre like Girl Scout cookies, it should be halcyon days for content creators and producers. Not exactly

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Netflix / Napster

By Steve Effros A few weeks ago in this column, I suggested that the growth and development of Netflix should more appropriately be compared to HBO than to the entire cable or broadband industry. Since that

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Media Industry Needs Green Thumb

With new tech raining down on the media industry in sheets, there are bound to be weeds. The latest OTT play that's no doubt bringing fingers to Weed-B-Gon triggers is Zediva , which emerged from beta

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Short Takes

By Steve Effros There's so much talk right now I thought I would just try to react to some of it, after consideration, in some short, quick responses. Not necessarily the 140-character "Tweets" that are

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En Fuego

At the 4As conference this week, US Census Bureau dir Robert Groves said the growth in the Hispanic population over the last decade will be "one of the headlines of the 2010 Census." I think we all expected

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Competition

By Steve Effros The underlying premise of a lot of the rhetoric going on in Washington seems to be that if the government doesn't intervene in some way with rules, regulations, standards and the like that

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Return of the King

When looking at the results of Beta 's cable op study from the past 3 years, a few things jump out regarding the avg perceived value of basic nets among affils. The avg values of most of the top-ranked

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Breaking Down History's Recent Prime Week

Though more of a steady ascension than meteoric rise, History 's march upward on the list of cable nets ranked by prime delivery is impressive. After earning a 1.2 HH rating in '10, a 1.3 in 4Q and Dec

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Strike Section 629

By Steve Effros This should be simple. It won't be, of course, but it should be. At the highest levels of government, there seems to be consensus: excessive regulation and interference in the business

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Measuring Success: Advertisers Work Toward Better Metrics, Uniformity

ANA and Google on Thurs treated the TV advertising community to a star-studded conference in NYC as ad gurus mulled massive consumer shifts in media consumption. The TV & Everything Video Forum event

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The Flip Side

Cable sports programmers' gaudy success with viewers and advertisers ( Cfax , 2/10 ) doesn't mean the sports genre is all sunshine and roses. Camps including MVPDs and cable subs who aren't sports

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A Bad Joke

By Steve Effros I was at a conference a few days ago where FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell was questioned about the new "net neutrality" rules. McDowell responded by saying that of course the rules would be

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What'll You Have, TV Style

I used to love those Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid because they placed me in control of my own entertainment. Decades later, through new series "Bar Karma" (Feb 11), Current TV has improved the

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Scanning The Covers

By Steve Effros It's not as often these days, but when you do go to a bookstore, take a close look at what they're doing. It's rather dramatic, the way stores which once looked like libraries, with

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Lombardi Trophy For Cable

Ball State telecom professor Dom Caristi said it won't be too long before the Super Bowl moves to cable, and why not? March Madness will soon post up on Turner nets, following the migrations of pro

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Comcast: Bigger and Better?

By Steve Effros On January 10, 2000, AOL announced its plan to acquire Time Warner. One year and one day later, the FCC approved the deal. On December 3, 2009 Comcast and NBC/Universal announced their plan. It

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Shop Pop

Shares of shopNBC operator ValueVision Media are flying off the shelves. The stock closed at $7.15 Thurs after trading for $1.46 in mid Aug—begging a traditional retail question: fad or trend? Operations show

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20 to 2

By Steve Effros The CES is history. The "buzz" is turning into a drone, and all you really need to know is that 20 turned into 2 in order to understand what's happening with "AllVid," 3D, "OTT,"

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Friends?

Retrans wars nearly ensure that cable ops and local broadcasters will remain at odds for years, and the big 4 and MSO's can't exactly be described as pals either—save for new BFFs Comcast and NBC . On

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To the Cloud!

To The Cloud!By Steve EffrosWe're going to be inundated this week by news and all sorts of commentary about the latest, greatest, neatest new devices being unveiled at the annual Consumer Electronics Show

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Tweeting Gloves

After working in this business for a lot of years, it sometimes brings me up short to realize how many things we influence with what we do and the decisions we make. That

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Now What?

By Steve Effros OK, so the FCC has finally voted to impose "net neutrality" regulations on ISPs. Now what? All of the "normal" things that happen following a significant regulatory ruling by a Federal

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Peanut Gallery

Outside reaction to the FCC 's adoption of net neutrality rules adds additional exhibits to the divisiveness and passion inherent to the issue. "While, like apparently everyone else in America, this would

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Eureka!

I dabble a bit in art and coin collecting and am fond of gambling, so it should come as no surprise that I got sucked into back-to-back-to-back eps of A&E 's new series "Storage Wars" this week

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The Messenger

By Steve Effros "Killing the messenger" has never been an effective way to deal with bad news, but some folks still find it politically expedient. Unfortunately for the cable industry, we often find

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Over The Top Reporting

By Steve Effros It's hard to miss the reporting these days in both the consumer and the business press about "over the top" delivery of video, and the seemingly linked-at-birth associated assumption of

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32-year Window to Ad Dollars

Lots to come in Mon's issue regarding Nov ratings, with several nets setting records for the month. Rewriting the record books has become commonplace during virtually every time period this year, in many

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A Level 3 Whiff

By Steve Effros I use the term "whiff" here in lots of different contexts. The brouhaha created this week by the extraordinary effort at negotiating by press release on the part of Level 3 Communications has

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Soap Boxing

Sen Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) slammed the US media and particularly Fox News and MSBNC during Wed's retrans hearing. He essentially said political discourse would benefit if the FCC would just tell the 2 nets

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Cable's 'Carterfone?'

By Steve Effros We're likely to soon start hearing a lot of references to the famous 1968 FCC decision in the "Carterfone" case. Most of those references, I fear, will be misplaced. Carterfone was the

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(Ad)ding Up

As much of the color has returned to the cheeks of the TV industry after heady economic troubles, cable ops, broadcasters and programmers were really left without a viable excuse if ad rev happened to falter

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Relationships

I spent an extraordinary evening in Williamsburg, VA the other night. It was the annual awards banquet of the Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association, the VCTA, and they were inducting two new members

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Prolific Pastime

It's difficult to overestimate the power enjoyed by the NFL in America. League games comprise the top 13 most-watched broadcast telecasts since Sept 9, and 4 of them easily led cable in Oct viewership

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The Right Tool For The Job

By Steve Effros This past week has seen an excellent display of how selective the FCC can appear in determining whether it has the appropriate tools to deal with a given issue. In the case of retransmission

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New Arrival

Welcome, Showtime , to the digital party. Perhaps fashionably but no doubt late, the premium net rolled out streaming service Showtime Anytime this week through Comcast 's Xfinity TV after HBO , Starz and

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"Daniels Time" — Again

By Steve Effros Back in 1998 I wrote a series of columns promoting an idea I dubbed "Daniels Time." At the time, political discourse, particularly in election cycles, was becoming so crass, so expensive

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Terrific Teammate

Sports' center-stage positioning in the programming arena is undeniable, especially as the genre dominates cable prime this time of year while also being used in '10 as a critical pawn in the

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You Broke It, You Fix It

As this is being written the Fox/Cablevision imbroglio is still playing out. Sometime soon there will be a resolution to the latest retransmission consent standoff, but that shouldn't be the end of the

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SCTE's Expo Offers Bold VisionIn a World of Pure Imagination

I've always thought of New Orleans as a place that stirs the imagination.From the vibrancy of Jackson Square to the mosaic of neighborhoods

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Interactive TV, 3D Shine in New Orleans

Buying Jennifer Aniston's sweater with a click of the TV remote was a hot topic at cable conventions a decade ago, and has now become industry insiders' wry response to anything having to do with

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Money Talks

Alki David , if he hasn't already, may soon assume the "maverick" label so often applied to wealthy media players such as Mark Cuban and Richard Branson . Reportedly the 45th richest man in the UK, David

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Policy vs. Politics

In August, I painted a picture in a column about the "net neutrality" true believers looking like a pack of wolves trying to surround their prey, the FCC, and stampede the Chairman over the cliff of Title II

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Riding Solo

How ironic that the intro music for FX 's top-rated show "Sons of Anarchy" includes the lyrics, "riding through this world, all alone." That's how many adherents of the show felt as Tues'

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The Convergence Mash-up

Take a little bit from here, a little bit from there, merge them together, overlay them, play it all at one time and what've you got? A "mash-up." That's what they're doing in the world of music

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Useful and Widening Target

GLAAD 's recent report on the prevalence of LGBT characters on TV bears noting for a number of reasons. Based on US Census estimates, the LGBT group consists of approx 15.3mln people, or roughly 6.8% of

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About Face

Time tends to change one's perspective. In the case of the ongoing battle over "net neutrality," we may have just seen one of those critical junctures where time has allowed the debate to proceed to the

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For Real Because of Real-Life Strangeness

Investigation Discovery has a long way to go before it's considered a major cable net, but pres/gm Henry Schleiff has definitely chosen the right path. Discovery Comm pres/CEO David Zaslav can't stop

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Tongue Tied

Univision pres Cesar Conde noted at NAMIC this week how the US Hispanic market is no longer a niche play. Indeed, Univision recently averaged more weekly 18-49s in prime than all other broadcasters for the 1st

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By the Numbers

I have long complained that the policymakers and politicians have been misled by those advocating regulation of broadband on the ground that somehow the United States is "behind" others in the world

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Debra Lee on Diversity, Associations and BET's Growth

A vocal proponent of diversity, BET pres/CEO Debra Lee believes much more needs to be done: "I don't think we've come a long way." Yet as BET and NAMIC celebrate 30th birthdays, Lee is upbeat about

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For the Kids

When The Hub launches next month with both high expectations and patience ( Cfax , 9/9 ), it'll have nearly a year to stake its flag in the kids space before the next all-important summer season. But data

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Consumer

One would think that it's relatively easy to define who or what a "consumer" is. It's not. I started looking at this question when it became clear that it's becoming somewhat central to the

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Soaring Shore and Solid Siblings Sizzle

History 's magnificent summer featured eye-popping YOY gains (per Turner ) among total viewers (34%), 18-49s (30%), 18-34s (47%) and 25-54s (30%), numbers clearly worthy of the seasonal net title. Yet

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Hungry Mungry

Do you remember Shel Silverstein's famous children's poem "Hungry Mungry"? It's about an insatiable little boy who eats everything—literally. By the time he's done eating the Universe (and

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Emmys, Take II

One Emmys theme this year is the far greater love heaped by voters on broadcast nets' comedy fare than basic cable's (premium nets are well represented). Anecdotally, ad-supported cable has become the

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Choice

We hear a lot about the idea of "choice." Consumers, it is said, repeatedly, should have maximum choice in what they want to see, when they want to see it, on what type of screen, and so on. I thought it

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Conference Clouds

In case you missed the myriad college football conference realignment news this summer because of the World Cup, vacation or otherwise, don't fret because it continues. Perhaps highlighted by Nebraska

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"Cable" Channels

A good friend of mine who happens to be the "proprietor" of the leading publication in the DBS business was complaining the other day about announcers on various programs saying that "...all the popular

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Tough Living

Expect some dramatic negotiations at TNT 's offices in the future if the net's new crime show "Rizzoli & Isles" continues to score big with audiences. According to TV Guide , star Angie

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Howling in the (Political) Wind

Politics and policy debates often mimic nature. That's certainly true in the debate over "net neutrality" as we watched, this past week, the "wolf pack" of net neutrality advocates circle their prey

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Relative Viewership

Remember Chevy 's famous blunder in Mexico, where it intro'd the Nova model to extremely light sales because it failed to realize the name translates to "no go" in Spanish? I thought about that

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Volume and Weight

There's a trend developing that suggests that some folks think volume and weight have some relevance when soliciting public comment surrounding a contentious issue. I beg to differ. It's hard to miss

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Bankable Menu

So an advertiser walks into NBCU 's offices in '11... No, this isn't the start of a joke. It's perhaps just preamble to yesterday's eye-opening, ad-related punch line from Comcast , which

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599

That's the reported number of pages Comcast used to "respond" to all of the filings at the FCC taking issue with the proposed Comcast/NBCU merger. We're no longer killing trees, we're killing

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For 3D, School's In… For Now

In the tightly scripted corporate world, it's rare when executives express doubt. For the moment, that's not so for 3D coverage of live sports. "No one really knew what to expect," YES Network

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3D Diversion

3D viewing is neat, don't get me wrong. But is it the "next great thing" in television? I don't think so, and I worry that it may be diverting attention from some far more important things. It's

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Roping Rogers' Steed

At a NYC auction Wed, RFD-TV agreed to pay approx $267K for Roy Rogers ' taxidermal horse Trigger , who will forever stay in a rearing pose. But as RFD-TV pres Patrick Gottsch was waiting Thurs to bid on

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Very Well Said

The quote highlighted in newspapers around the country from the Court of Appeals decision Tuesday striking down the FCC's "indecency rules" says it all: "The past thirty years has seen an explosion of

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Overlooked, Underappreciated or Unworthy?

From the "things that make you go hmmm..." department: the top 4 cable ent nets in 2Q prime viewership garnered just 14 overall Prime Emmys nods, including Disney Channel (5), USA (4), TNT (3), and

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Working Cooperatively

There's a very fine and difficult line that must be walked when companies try to work together. We all know the drill: issues of combination in restraint of trade, collusion, antitrust and the like

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2Quagmire

Eek. Ugh. Blooey. That about sums up 2Q on Wall St. Not 1 Dow component achieved gains for the period, including Disney , and the S&P shed 12.5%. Most other major programming stocks couldn't escape

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Netflix Neutrality?

You already know I'm not neutral about Netflix. I've said the service is a model for what we should be doing. Nevermind the incredible mail service (I get my DVDs in one day after I mail one in)

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Historical Desert Heat

Recounting a trip to Las Vegas he made last week, my neighbor told me about the Cirque show he attended, a trip to Hoover Dam, unlucky stints at the blackjack tables—and an excursion to the pawn shop featured

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The Consumer Wins

There are so many disparate aspects to the policy debates regarding telecommunications these days that you can attend a panel session, a hearing or some other event focusing on "the issues" virtually every

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Sales Force

HSN (and Cornerstone Brands ) went public nearly 2 years ago to solid Wall St demand, only to likely shop for tissues in bulk as HSNI shares hit $1.44 in Dec '08. HSN was staggered by the recession's

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Overreaction

When I was an attorney at the FCC many years ago, in what was then known as the "Cable Television Task Force," there were seven FCC Commissioners. The policy debates were free-wheeling, and all the

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Public Affairs

Cox and the Natl Center for Missing and Exploited Children will hold Tues their 5th Natl Teen Summit on Internet Safety at NCTA's DC headquarters. "America's Most Wanted" host John

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What's In a Name?

Discomax 3D? Trio 3D? The name of the forthcoming 3D net from Discovery Comm , Sony and IMAX remains a mystery, and Tom Cosgrove , the new pres/CEO of the jv, would only say that an announcement's

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Form Factor

I bought an iPad. I'm hooked. I didn't expect it to be this way. I thought the principal thing I was going to use it for was as an "eReader," to buy and read books and maybe a couple of magazines and

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Meeting Change Head On

From boardrooms to industry gatherings, one topic is dominating conversations: the far-reaching changes that are transforming how we do business. From advancing technologies to the convergence of services

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In the Zone

Futbol's grandest stage, the World Cup, opens next Fri with myriad cable nets/ops as key players, but for now a development in American football bears noting. An initiative that seemingly offers cable ops

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'Plastics'

OK, I'm showing my age, and all of you who don't remember the following dialogue from the classic film "The Graduate" (1967) with Dustin Hoffman should watch it and then you'll understand

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Score Card

Courtesy of data from Nielsen , Kagan and Time Warner , it's time for a holiday pop quiz (answers at the bottom). (1) In terms of avg hours of use/person/wk, which of the following achieved the greatest

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Looking Forward

Facebook just announced a new design for its privacy controls yesterday. The reason was clear; folks had gotten very concerned about how the data collected by that company on its dominant social networking

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So Many Options, So Few Appealing

With the financial markets spiraling downward and my summer vacation still 2 months away, I've been savoring every laugh, chortle or guffaw that comes my way. Thankfully, the broadcasters' intro of new

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VOD Data In Demand

That DirecTV and DISH highlighted notable 1Q upticks in VOD and PPV transactions while cable ops were largely mum further stoked my enthusiasm for the state of video on demand. With growth in digital homes

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Movies On Demand: The Hits Just Keep On Coming

If the $30 million multimedia campaign touting Movies on Demand that the CTAM Marketing Co-op organized with major Hollywood studios and cable companies is news to you, it's not a surprise. The "The Video

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Take a Deep Breath

Let's review the bidding, and see where we actually are instead of all the hyperventilating that's going on. We're in the middle of the National Show at a time when the industry's largest

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A Future Glimpse…

The cable industry and its suppliers are putting on an impressive technology display at Cable Show 2010. A vast array of new products and services will be showcased in the My World and CableNET industry

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The Heart of a City: It's People… As it is in Business

At the approach of Cable Connection-Spring, I began to reflect on Los Angeles—the City of Angels. A montage of images depicting the sprawling metropolis' vast ethnic, cultural, and even geographic

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Cable Delivers Your World, Your Way

The Cable Show's return to Los Angeles for the first time since 1996 provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on the tremendous progress our industry has made since our last visit to Southern

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Women Are Smart Business

Women in Cable Telecommunications is taking time during Cable Connection Spring to recognize and celebrate the best companies for women in cable as determined by last year's PAR survey. Some might ask

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Hair on Fire!

There are an alarming number of quotes in the papers these days from folks in Washington who sound like they're running around with their hair on fire. The crisis: the Internet is about to fail. The

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April Flowers

Once again, ratings superlatives in cable abounded during an extended period, this time the month of Apr. A wealth of nets earned their best Apr or quarter ever (these records are becoming ridiculously

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The Flip Side

I pointed out last week that the proponents of government imposed "net neutrality" are starting, hopefully, to appreciate that there is a "flip side" to many of their arguments when other policy issues are

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Pigskin Showcase

All the mock drafts and trade speculation that are part and parcel of the bloated hype surrounding the NFL Draft may be maddening to some, inane to others. But I challenge anyone to proffer a valid argument

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South Korean Models

It's curious that serious people looking at Broadband development in the United States would choose to make comparisons with places like South Korea to allegedly buttress their policy preferences. This

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Going Holistic

Yes, it is possible for a cable network to reach advertising nirvana. Just ask Evan Shapiro , president of IFC and Sundance Channel . Shapiro's team has been pioneering holistic marketing solutions for

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Mergers and Retransmissions

This week marks the American Cable Association's 17th Annual Summit in Washington, D.C., a forum that celebrates the honorable cause of providing world-class communications service to Hometown America. ACA

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Distribution Dance

His arts and contemporary culture channel may be independent and relatively small, but Ovation CEO Charles Segars , while noting the net's feature of musical artists from Elvis to Bono , denies having had

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If I Were King

What would you do if you could just change things around in the cable industry? I don't mean the "big" battles, like "net neutrality" and common carrier, I mean the day to day stuff that you run into

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Cramped Quarters, Capacious Thoughts

After more than 6 days in confinement, they hadn't cracked and were still viewable online (explorersolitary.com). No, the 3 volunteers who submitted to enduring an 8X10 cell for a week with extremely

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Nuance

There certainly was very little of it, nuance, that is, in the reporting and comments issued the other day about the DC Appeals Court decision in the Comcast case. Here are a few examples:The New York

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Battle for the Sexes

To extend a look at cable viewership trends among 18-49s during 1Q prime ( Cfax , 3/31 ), I parsed data so as to spotlight results strictly concerning men and/or women in the age bracket. Of the nets that

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Convergence

Benjamin Kubelsky started out on stage, in vaudeville. He then moved to radio, then movies and television. He was dominant in his field at the time. Nobody ever suggested that Jack Benny not be allowed to move

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Thawing 3D Ice

While recent and imminent initiatives in 3DTV continue to strike me as too much too soon, another notable development regarding the tech is set to emerge Wed evening. That's when MSG Net 's

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Proud Discovery

In January, 1985... yes, 1985, I wrote the following note in the CATAcable Newsletter regarding some folks I had just met at the Western Show: One new programmer was on hand. The Discovery Channel—and for my

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Program Access: Comcast-NBCU Critics Say Ruling Doesn't End Worries

Now that the DC Circuit has said it will uphold the FCC's program access rules, will the issue die in discussions of Comcast and NBCU's proposed jv? Nah. Groups like Free Press and ACA reminded

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1,500-day Journey to the Screen

Beginning Mar 21, Discovery Channel will perpetuate a '10 TV trend consistent with international programming and a 4-yr term, joining the Winter Olympics and World Cup soccer with a slight twist. While

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I Still Like Sausage

OK, so now you're getting a taste for why that old adage has long warned that you don't really want to watch sausage or legislation being made. It's true. It's a messy, malleable, sometimes

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Tempered Tube, Wondrous Web

Any way you skin it, slice it or pare it, CNN 's struggling. Is the situation dire enough to warrant the renaming of net personalities, perhaps as Campbell (D)own or (U)nderson Cooper? You be the judge

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Game Changer

Whether you like the name or not, Comcast's "Xfinity" is a game changer, and I think it plays very well. If you watched the Olympic broadcast coverage at all during the past two weeks in a market served

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Flipping the Script

Whether regarding format, name or programming mix, myriad changes are afoot among cable nets—healthy consequences of a burgeoning race for additional viewers and ratings as ad dollars funnel to cable over

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Watch Your Words

Every business, every profession has its own "insider" language. In law, a "term of art" is a word that has acquired a set of meanings based on laws, regulations, court decisions and the like that have

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Battle Royal

Wrestling's fanbase has always been rabid and loyal, but even with intense competition from MMA and a decent amount of high-flying, smack-talking action already available across cable, grappling franchises

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Beware of What You Ask For

You all know the final line of that old adage... "Beware of what you ask for, you might get it!" Well, I think it applies more than ever in the business we know and love. In the terminology of Washington, we

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Household Haul

Given NBCU 's 835 hours of planned linear Olympic Winter Games coverage, cynics may question the prudence of Universal Sports ' own 5 hours of live daily news and info slated throughout the event. The

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The Best They Can

Washington is buried in snow. Close to three feet of the stuff has fallen in the last few days. It's really amazing. By the time it's all over we'll have had more snow this winter than in the last

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Still Reality, But Animals Over Humans

I'd rather wrestle a celebration of polar bears than watch Fox Reality Channel for 10 minutes, so I'm quite pleased that Nat Geo Wild will usurp Reality's spot this spring and bring to pay TV

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Must Reconsider

Every once in a while something happens that legitimately requires folks to reconsider what they are doing, why and whether there's another way to go. The most obvious example of that was just witnessed in

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Golden Cup?

I'm not convinced that ESPN 's expansive coverage of this year's FIFA World Cup (Jun 11-Jul 11) will place soccer among the top sports draws in America as evp, sales and marketing Sean Bratches

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Padding The Record

When I was in grade school, we had a standard method for seemingly adding "heft" to our term papers; we stapled each page to a sheet of "construction paper". That way your report was big, heavy and

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Smudge

It's hard to miss the increasing level of smudge at the bottom, side, or even the entire back page of advertisements these days. You know what I'm talking about; just look at any DISH ad in your local

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Going Global

NBC opens the curtain Sun (8pm ET) to the Golden Globes , at a time when the broadcast net really deserves a Razzie or 12 for bungling its late-night lineup. Or, perhaps the whole fiasco should be nominated

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Purple Faces

Way back in the day... a long, long time ago, but not that far away, when I started as an attorney working at the cable television "Task Force" of the FCC, one of my jobs was to respond to mail regarding

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Foresight Required for 3D

PCs, panned. Cell phones, cackled at before being cackled through. HDTVs, howled as a ludicrous luxury. Groundbreaking tech always receives skepticism in abundance; it wouldn't be groundbreaking otherwise

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Stirring The Pot

OK, so it's the first full week in January, and we're already being accused of violating the antitrust laws for adding value for our customers and to our business model. Amazing. Here's the good

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Are We There Yet?

Yes, Virginia, we've reached the end of the year, but as to being "there," that's not so clear. Anyone with small children has heard the impatient cry from the back seat "...are we there yet?"

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You're a Mean One, DVR

As time-shifted viewership sits as a lump of coal in many programmers' holiday stockings (see last week's item), don't expect the Grinch-like feelings over the related growth to abate. "It's a

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Critical 96 Hours

TV Everywhere has programmers scrambling to find ways to collectively (and efficiently) monetize TV and online viewership, a hunt critical to establishing fair ad rates going forward. Yet the buzz has

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Bresnan A+

What an extraordinary 48 hours. Last week, I sat in a church in Greenwich, CT, with virtually every CEO in the cable industry at Bill Bresnan's funeral. It was a sorrowful time for the "cable family" as

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Comcast/NBCU Deal in Numbers

The most important related figure may become 12 : no, not Comcast's celebration of the 12 days of Christmas due to their very expensive "present," but the number of estimated months the deal will be tied

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It's About Time!

OK, I admit it, this is one of those "I told you so" columns, but isn't it amazing that it's taken this long to start a serious policy debate about why we are still giving away all that "ocean

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Time for Thanks… & So Long…

It's been good to know you these past 20+ years of appearing on this page dated Monday mornings — not to mention the 20 or so years that went before with CATV Newsweekly , TV Communications , CableVision

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A Buck a Month a Sub?

The cable bills you send every month just might wander up another $144/year... if broadcasters get their way. Proof positive that "retransmission consent" is (a) bad law, (b) disingenuously named, (c)

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Releasing 'The Prisoner'

With AMC's 3-part mini "The Prisoner" debuting Sun, our own Seth Arenstein sat down with AMC programming chief Joel Stillerman to discuss how the epic fits into the net's programming strategy. How

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"TV Everywhere" is VOD!

A little side-show was just triggered by Charlie Ergen with the decision by Echostar to try to trademark the term "TV Everywhere." Presumably the argument will be that those words were used by the makers of

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Multicultural Party

It's a TBS fiesta! The net's heavily-promoted "Lopez Tonight"—which it says will "bring the party back to late night"—launches Mon (11pm ET) with lofty expectations. On Wed, TWX chief Jeff Bewkes

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Snowy Show(s)…

The NCTA Board of Directors learned (yet again) that it snows in Colorado. And often in the "wrong" places... by early Thursday, we had gotten over a foot of wet snow at my downtown apartment and even more

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Screen Shopping

Kellogg cited shoppers' loyalty to its cereal brands as a key driver of 3Q profit growth, and at CTAM this week TAXI chmn Paul Lavoie ( Cfax , 10/27) espoused the power of effective branding in any

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Join Them

You know the old saying; if you can't beat them, join them! That's where I am on the current trend of citing "cable" for all that ails us. Yes, I get touchy about this, but I'm really tired of

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A Diversity Focus Means Opportunity

One size fits all. While the concept may apply to some clothing options, it certainly doesn't apply in today's increasingly multicultural society. With the election of Barack Obama, we began this

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As the (Cable) World Turns…

...the breath-taking changes we've experienced the last couple of years will keep on happening... and maybe, as the nation struggles out of the "Grand Recession," even accelerate.Here are some of the

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How Cable's Making Businesses Smarter

By Char Beales, pres/CEO of CTAM For small business owners, getting the word out about products and services is difficult enough even in a growth economy. During the downturn, with cash constrained and credit

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Anything But Colorless

Silly me. At first blush, the premise of USA 's new original "White Collar" (Fri) struck me as an uninventive procedural plot wholly atypical to the net's recent smash hits "Royal Pains" and "Burn

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Denver Ho!

You don't need a covered wagon train to get to the Mile High City Sunday or so (though, to be sure, you could still get here that way). The consolidated Cable Connection - Fall can keep you busy when you

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Who Said That?

Comedian Jeff Dunham has made ventriloquism cool, an impressive feat akin to igniting fervor over square dancing. He's purportedly now the 3rd-highest earning comedian in America behind Seinfeld and Chris

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Smart Pipes

There's no such thing as a "dumb pipe" in the telecommunications business, or in most other infrastructures, for that matter. It's time we put that absurd term to rest. The FCC is now initiating the

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The Spectrum Gap!

Apparently, we've got one—and it is growing more dangerous every day. America cannot catch up with the rest of the world unless the Federal Confusion Commission can find lots and lots more spectrum for

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Marketing Mania

As noted on pg 1, the sports genre's helping cable fight back in the still-dicey yet apparently improving cable ad market. Only the next few weeks will tell for sure, but Wells Fargo , UBS and Sanford

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'We' & 'the Ends'…

A column by the (seriously) prolific Thomas L. Friedman in last Wednesday's New York Times about the hyper-partisanship in today's American politics hit a chord with me. Friedman lamented the lack of a

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A Breakthrough in a Season of Non-Deals?

This just in! According to well-placed sources, Comcast 's in heated negotiations to acquire the rights to Ryan Seacrest 's name, the NHL and the state of Pennsylvania. OK, maybe not, but I feel like

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'Consumers'

One of my best friends is a reading addict. He's amazing; always got the hardcover of the latest high-profile book and read it immediately (he reads very fast). That was good for me, since I could

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'My' TV Service…

... NOT YOURS! All those "TV Everywhere" trials—or whatever whomever calls the experiments underway and planned—are just the latest in a series of steps that will change our

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Pirates of the Nation's Capital

The Hasbro-Discovery kids channel jv is approx a year away from launch, yet its hire this week of Donna Ebbs as svp, programming ignites further intrigue in what's shaping up to be a viewership showdown in

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Off to La La Land…

Where the late Army Archerd is still missed—and not just from Variety. There are issues and uncertainties as the businesses head into the Fall... as well as plenty of deadlines and commitments. Like, when Jay

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The Gospel According to Gospel Music Channel

Although alternative rock and rap are my musical genres of choice, I cannot deny the soulful and uplifting nature of gospel music. It deeply affects people individually yet is suffused with group compassion

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'Short Termism' — Must Reading

There was a really excellent business column in the Washington Post recently by Steven Pearlstein. Everyone should take a minute to read it. Entitled "Wall Street's Mania for Short-Term Results Hurts

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The Slowest Wildfires…

Up near 10,000 feet above sea level where I live, I've been watching a giant forest fire—in slow motion. It isn't like the annual fires in California; and it wasn't set by man. The lodgepole pines

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Going For A Ride

Motorcyclists are well acquainted with whipping wind, but no one at FX was prepared for the gale-force viewership produced by the 2nd-season premiere of biker gang drama "Sons of Anarchy." The Tues night ep

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A Sporting Chance?

On Sunday, the day before no one really did any "labor" on Labor Day (except maybe drive home), the guys at "SportsCenter" on ESPN were laboring away as they always do.... this time on the 30th Anniversary

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Seasonal Stakes

Though it’s far beneath the marketing and revenue-generating breadth of the NFL
juggernaut, below the league’s programming squabbles with cable ops and under
the regular season game slates of ESPN and NFL Net, an interesting nugget lays
unassumingly,

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Whew

Well, I warned you that things were going to get very busy for us in the coming months on the policy front, but I never thought it would get this active this soon! Most of us are not even back in Washington

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The Last Of the Dog Days

Tomorrow is September? Well, Tuesday will be. The days are getting shorter. Saw my first yellow aspen leaf last week. Birds are stopping by on their way South. Pre-season football is supplying great laugh

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Pigskin Party, Various Hosts

Ahh, football season is at last upon us, a time of year filled for many with unbridled excitement, optimism (for Redskins fans, typically short-lived) and lots of heartburn—and to me the ideal salve to

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Ratings? What Ratings?

Gee, a consortium is going to try to develop a better ratings metric! Again! Been tried a few times before, but mighty Nielsen has survived... and prospered. That Czech ex-British soldier with the same last

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Running of Several Cable Bulls

A passport to Travel Channel 's 90mln+ homes is no doubt worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but the deal's bidding process plus prospective suitors' financial conditions and existing cable

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Funding Journalism

My local NPR station had a fund drive the other day. Another one. It seems like the fund drives have become continuous events these days, and I can certainly understand why. Funding any journalistic effort is

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Friday the 14th?

Nah, Thursday the 20th... The deadline for the first round of the broadband stimulus got delayed a little (the system wasn't quite up to the new snuff). As I write, though, I'm wondering about the

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Ready Or Not, Here Comes Epix

Epix certainly faces an uphill battle to widespread carriage, at least in the near-term. But to assume the jv net stands before Mt Everest without a parka or crampons would be a mistake. Sure, the premium

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Willner's Whack

In keeping with the kid and TV vein, Insight chief Michael Willner gave the industry a slap Wed in his blog (michaelsinsight.com) over suggestive and inappropriate commercials that run during all hours of the

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Over Which Top?

OTT—over-the-top content delivery gets a lot of ink (pixels, too). Note: some interesting studies out... check out the sample from Will Richmond partner TDG - http://www.videonuze.com/download/?id=16 and one

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Tinseltown Tempest

The outcry over the TV Academy 's plan to pre-tape 8 award presentations at the Prime Emmys is throbbing in L.A., led publicly by the Writers and Directors Guilds and no doubt privately by several cable

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Policymaking Pragmatism

The FCC is finally back up to full strength. All five Commissioners are on the job, staff positions are being filled, and we can now expect that rather than just "framing the issues" as has been the case for

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Dog Days?

Ah, August. The Europeans have it right... take the month off. But we can't look to laws or mores from other jurisdictions Besides, that ain't gonna work on this side of the pond this year. Broadband

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Big Time Move

I'm a big fan of playing the contrarian role when appropriate, but I must join most pundits and recognize Cablevision's prudence in deciding to spin off MSG. The MSO's shareholders can only be

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Hot Times @ Grapevine…

Landed at DFW—remembered why I moved to Colorado right away. "It ain't the heat, it's the humidity," as they say hereabouts. Actually, it's both. Went to college near here—in Dallas. A little

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Capitol Challenges

This week the industry gathers "Deep in the Heart of Cable" for the 4th Annual Independent Show in Dallas, Texas. Independent cable operators from across the U.S. will celebrate achievements in deploying

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Business Models

There are now more televisions per household (2.8) than there are people (2.5), according to the latest Nielsen survey. Folks are watching more television (over 58 hours per household per week) than ever

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Save the Papers?

...from extinction.Was talking with the great Trygve Myhren the other day about when he was asked by a big time newspaper owner about doubling down and buying more papers... was just a few

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Curtain Call

Perhaps I am a rabbit's foot, horseshoe or 4-leaf clover. In the 3 yrs I've been at Cfax , the industry has witnessed a remarkable ascent by original cable programming to breadth and, most importantly

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Random Notes

G8 v. Allen & Co: An earthquake-ravaged Italian resort or Sun Valley? You decide. * Sun Valley: What fun. I learned from tweets from the New York Times ' DealBook ( http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/

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Mountain West's Uphill Battle

For the record, I view the BCS as a cabal not unlike OPEC . Both hold all the aces in their respective domains and operate accordingly. It's difficult to impugn either for operating in a self-interested

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Balance

There was an interesting article in the newspaper the other day about a sudden burst in research and development surrounding incandescent light bulbs. Apparently there have been almost no technological

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Send Money?

Sure. We in the cable industry have lots of chances to do some good... And goodness knows, we get asked a lot... Contribute to this, contribute to that... Contribute again... and, God bless, lots and lots of

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(Cable) TV Everywhere?

Been talked about a lot... nice to see the trials starting next month. Cable's (and satellite's and telco video's) business model is hard to beat: subscription fees plus advertising. (Same model is

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Long Distance Call

ZZZZZZZZZZZ. Oh, sorry, I dozed off while reflecting on mobile video—of the seemingly passe handset variety. To me, mobile video is like MySpace or Tom Cruise : relevant, but dogged by either flagging or

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Screaming

There was a significant jump in the number of reported cases of the H1N1 flu last week. More than 231 have died. 51 of those last week, most in the US. Of the 52,000 confirmed cases, worldwide, close to 8000

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Advertising/Marketing

TiVo and Quantcast partnered to analyze the correlation between TV viewership and online activity. Using a sample of 35K HHs and melding TiVo's Power||Watch

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And Ted Said:

Quite a lot, actually. One of God's dream interviewees, Ted Turner took the first question from Michael Dowling (Chairman of the event committee for the Colorado Conservation Trust dinner awarding Ted...

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You Be The Judge… And Jury

I'd prefer to vote for the evisceration of all tabloids stationed in grocery store checkout aisles, those "journalistic" marvels that inform me and my rapt cereal that "Angelina's Lips Deflate Due

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Leveling Off?

Interesting interview that Fox Business anchor Liz Claman had with Cisco 's John Chambers last week. Noting his was the "first tech company in ten years" added to the Dow Jones Industrial Index, Chambers

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Have Your Beefcake and Eat It Too

I'm smitten with WWE . Go ahead, chuckle it up. Call the pro wrestling enterprise what you will: a trash-talking traveling circus, a musclehead masquerade ball, a faux sport. Truth is, all those

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Finally

Friday is "D"TV day. Finally. It's been a long, hard slog, but the American broadcast television infrastructure is going to turn off most of their analog transmitters by midnight Friday night, and they

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Thinking: It's a Human Resource

In her soulful voice, Aretha Franklin challenges us to "think (think, think), let your mind go, let yourself be free." And Darby urges her Super Sleuth pals Tigger and Pooh to "Think! Think! Think!" Yet in

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Y2K Redux? Or Digital Cliff

Here comes Friday the 12th. Too bad it isn't on the 13th! So far, so good. But that soft test a few weeks ago drove more than a few phone calls. Last chance for a sub bump... just watch out for those

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Sharp Seasonal Shooting

Is spring cable's new summer? Increasingly, the answer is a stentorian affirmative, the underlying driver sports programming. Plus, hoops, hockey and the NFL Draft are but a few of cable's spring

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Reality? What's That?

Chad and Seth usually cover programming; but I've been wondering about it more lately. Musing, really. Not watching much. (Was off the grid for a long weekend—worth it to do once in awhile. No phone. No

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IceCapades

For the past few years, so-called hockey pundits, various media and even NHL players have lamented the league's TV deal with Versus , saying chiefly that it stifles the league's exposure. Well, guess

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Intellectual Firepower

We haven't seen this much intellectual firepower in Washington in a long time, and it's going to have a major impact on what we do, and how we do it. That goes not only for how we run our businesses

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New Life

It's official. CableFAX broke the news back in Mar that a private equity fund focused on family-friendly, faith-based media appeared to have purchased AmericanLife TV Network ( Cfax , 3/12) . ComStar

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Boob Tube

Don't be shocked if the near future holds a substantial turnover in the CableFAX team. No, we're not disgruntled, and we're handling the difficult economy relatively well, thank you. But given some

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Noise Matters…

"Noise"—in the sense of this particular exercise this week—means anything that interferes with, degrades or otherwise hinders in any way a communication. The technical reason why your messages don't

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Laugh Track-ing

Given the notable dearth of new sitcoms on TV—certainly compared to the '80s and '90s—it's no surprise that Tyler Perry earned approx $125mln last year. His shows deliver the laughs and the

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Call Them Now

I know that the CableFAX office distribution often doesn't make it to the engineering department. Make sure this one does. We're entering a critical time, the "last mile" as it were, for the DTV

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Can "Cable" Win?

Win what? might be the question. So, I'll answer: can "cable" win the race to survive and, indeed, prosper? One might also ask, which "cable"? The operating companies? The once-cable-only distributed

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Making His Mark

Bill Abbott assumed the Crown Media scepter Wed, pleased with the future prospects of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel . Abbott's gleaming coronet may be jostled quite a bit in '09, though

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The 2nd 100 Days!

Nationalize broadband? Nationalize wireless? Nationalize ALL forms of telephony? If it's two-way, it must be... NATIONALIZED! Merge Bell Labs, CableLabs, "Space"Labs, "Air"Labs, Dirt Labs and every lab

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Last Year (Big) Brown, This Year Pink

Bravo to NBCU and Churchill Downs for the female-focus of this year's KY Derby festivities. A lamentable pun, yes, as Bravo the channel will play a critical and unique role, but a nice contrast to an

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Demand Hearings

It's time the cable industry started demanding some hearings up on Capitol Hill, just like everyone else. Don't fight them. Join in wholeheartedly and demand they look at the realities surrounding such

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Marching the Halls

This is, of course, a big week for members of the American Cable Association. Hundreds of ACA members will stream into Washington, D.C., for our annual Summit—now in its 16th year—to give their opinions

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Independence Time…

Back to DC this week. The American Cable Association holds its annual meeting in the nation's capital as an excuse to descend on the Capitol and lobby, lobby, lobby. Good thing, too. On Tuesday morning

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Broadcasters Embrace Localism

NAB conference circuits were busy this week with anticipation of broadcasters' important initiative going forward: mobile distribution of digital station signals, primarily to handsets. But there was a

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A Truly Important Demo

With data pointing to the burgeoning importance of Hispanics to American media seemingly everywhere, multichannel ops are wisely responding. Time Warner Cable , for example, has broadened its Hispanic-focused

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Holy Internet

...Batman, as Robin might have said. Gotham City is under attack and we sure are lucky some members of Congress are donning their capes to save the day! You see, it seems some really villainous folks decided

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Customer Service?

Around here, we know a few people in the cable TV business... some old-timers, some newbies and more than a few with time-in-grade but not yet Pioneers.Almost everyone agrees that "customer

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My Prime Time May Not Be Yours

Though still firmly entrenched in the TV viewing minority, DVR users continue to challenge myriad TV industry traditions, most notably force-fed, unavoidable advertising and the concept of appointment TV. But

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Whew!

So round one of the "New Semi-Annual Cable Hell Week" is over (or, it will be fading into a deserved blur by the time you read this—as for me, I've got a day and half to go!). Did it work? Sure, if you

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The Business of Growth and Change

Most of you know Moore's Law, which predicts that transistor density on chips will double approximately every 18 months. This law has been restated, and correctly so, that computational power doubles every

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Making the Most of The Current Economic Crisis: Cultivating an Opportunity To Enhance Diversity

Right now, things look dismal. The global economy is slumping and thousands are getting pink slips daily. The current economic crisis, many agree, is the worst since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, Financial

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The Certainties of This Year's Upfront TV Market

"Uncertainty" is a word we've gotten all too familiar with since the spring of 2008 and our previous Upfront marketplace. The trials that the US economy and businesses have been through since last spring

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Let's Get On the Move

All the signs of spring are here: The Spring Cable Connection, the cherry blossoms, first baseball pitches—and the Cable Mover Hotline. Why the Cable Mover Hotline? Late May marks the beginning of the peak

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Stimulus

"Stimulus" means different things to different people, especially when it comes to the new "stimulus package" meant to help prod, encourage, incent, motivate, push, spur (all listed synonyms) or stimulate

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The Cable Industry's Greatest Public Service Challenge: Saving a Generation

Three powerful forces have been building over the past several decades, and Cable Positive brought them together for the first time ever this week in Washington DC—with a big boost from the Motorola

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A New Focus on Women in DC

Coming together for an annual industry gathering like The WICT Leadership Conference or The Cable Show, you can count on hearing certain topics repeated in conversations—compelling keynotes and sessions

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No Question: Cable Cares No LOL in HIV

It was an exhausting day for cable's volunteer troopers, but their tired souls were happy by day's end. So were plenty of DC residents. Cable Cares began around 7am Tues as a team from WE tv , their

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Broadband Nation: Showcasing Cable to Washington

When we decided to bring the Cable Show to Washington, D.C. in 2009, we knew we'd have a new Administration, a new Congress and many new business developments. But never could we have imagined the massive

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20!

And counting, It was twenty years ago this week that the information landscape changed for cable television... with a little help from my friends ( Pat Gushman and Paul Levine in particular), we started this

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The 411 on The 101

Typically defined by its interactive sports coverage including NFL Sunday Ticket , DirecTV continues to bolster the content slate featured on its 24/7 ent channel The 101 . Within the last 2 weeks, the DBS op

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Patience…

Blame the media! Blame the President! Blame those impatient Senators and Congressfolks! The economy hasn't been fixed yet!!! Run for the exits! Impeach them all! Sure is a lot of thoughtless sturm und

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5Qs with WE tv's Steve Cheskin

We talked with WE tv 's svp programming & production Steve Cheskin about "The Locator" (season II premieres Mar 21, 9pm), where Troy Dunn finds and reunites missing loved ones. The Locator was WE

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Personalization

A reporter called the other day asking about how the "cable guys" were competing with "FIOS." The assumption was—and this is common—that the "competition" was between "cable technology" and the

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In the States

Microsoft co-founder/ Charter controlling stakeholder Paul Allen is writing a memoir to be published by Penguin 's Portfolio , reports Crain's NY . The chapter we most

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Ready for DC?

Do you suppose DC is ready for you? Think there will be a new Federal Confusion Commission roster by then? (I don't.) Ah, show time! Lots of show time in one really serious few days. From Monday the 30th

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Upfront Questions Abound

Cable's upfront season is upon us, and to incorporate a timely adage, many wait anxiously to determine whether advertisers will approach cable like hungry lions or diffident lambs. Relative to last year

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TV Everywhere!

Well, in Milwaukee anyway... Sort of. Time Warner Cable and HBO are experimenting with HBO subs on TWC getting HBO programs on other than cable-connected TVs over RoadRunner to PCs, Macs, iPhones and more..

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Still Bad

This week, we sat down with Joel Stillerman, svp, original programming, production and digital content at AMC , to discuss the net's recent string of hits. Season 2 of "Breaking Bad" (premieres Sun

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Highlights

"Ashes to Ashes," series premiere, Sat, 9pm, BBC America . Sequels rarely outshine their originals. Not so with "Ashes to Ashes," successor to "Life on Mars," BBC Am's time-traveling police hit

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Worth a Look

"Battles BC," Mon, 9pm, History . The hype is the "300"-like CGI to show

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You Have No Idea

It all looked easy. The call centers were up and running, the "scripts" were all vetted to assure neutrality, the newly-hired call center reps were put through training to be sure they could answer questions

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Web Boom

Given the frenetic hullabaloo surrounding Internet video, the WWW to which we've all grown so accustomed may as well stand for Wild, Wild Web. America's early-days West springs to mind, not for online

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Research

More than 80% of FiOS TV and U-verse TV customers are either "very" or "extremely"

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Presidents' Day?

Or President's Day? Gee... do you think the new President is happy he's President? Think he's pausing to reflect? And wonder what he got himself into? On the state of the country? On the state of

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Cost Course

With exceptions, of course, non-fiction nets face less erratic viewership swings across telecasts and time periods than do channels featuring news, sports, movies and fictional originals. They also, by and

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Turn It Off?

Of course, cable subscribers (who have ALL of their TVs connected) don't have to worry next Tues or next June 12th (a Fri this time)—unless of course, they've got any non-connected analog TVs around

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Win, Place and a New Show

In many ways, the cable programming business is like a horse race, with nets jockeying for position and purses in viewership, advertising and affil fees. And if it were possible to place a parimutuel wager on

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Stimulus?

Whoa, love this new post-partisan world. Short "honeymoon" for the Prez, huh? Is the South trying to secede again? This geographic division of political philosophy could get dangerous. Will the stimulus

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Cross-Channel Combat

Forget cable versus broadcast. In my eyes there's a compelling intra-industry rivalry percolating between USA and the fraternal Turner twins, TNT and TBS . The former remains the biggest, baddest

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Sober Times… Random Notes

Amazing spectacle last week as another—something we shouldn't really ever take for granted—peaceful transition of power happened in America. And almost 2mln folks participated! And more of us watched on

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Tube Ties

The list of things to which I feel an emotional bond is quite short: my family (of course); the stock market (unfortunately); exercise (endorphins rule!); humanity in its truest form (think MLK ); and "The

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It's How You Do It

It's not only what you do, but how you do it. I've been reminded of that aphorism repeatedly in the last few days, and it certainly applies to our business. Let's start with the good news: the

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Push It Back! Waaaay Back?

OK, I've changed my mind... Last week I wrote in another regular place that, for the first time, I actually agreed with the Martian that—as of Tuesday—will no longer run the Federal Confusion

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Splitsville

Dat dere new Showtime show ("The United States of Tara," Sun, 10pm) got some nutjob woman and a bunch of uppity white folk, but it do go well with beer. And I loves my beer. — What show? I don't watch

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3D-TV?

Why not? Makes sense, huh? Even before the digital transition causes overloaded phone lines and crashing complaint Web sites, you can gear up for the next big thing. Or not. Meanwhile, I'm thrilled to be

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Switched Digital Video: More Than Meets the Eye

Switched digital video is touted as a critical bandwidth-saving tool for the cable industry. But if you believe that's all it does, then we've undersold the technology. While there is wide consensus

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Transparency

It's the word of the moment. Transparency. Everything has to be out in the open, above board, available for anyone to see. But there's good news and bad news about transparency. The good news is

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2009—From A to Z… Random Notes

"A" is for "ahhhhh"—the New Year is here! And for advertising, may it resume—like now! "B" is for broadband—and tiers to come. "C" is for customer—pay close attention; pay very, very close
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