The Cable Show 2011 Kicks Off

From left to right: Moderator: Liz Claman (Fox Business Network), Neil Smit (Comcast Cable Communications), Patrick Esser (Cox Communications, Inc.), Philippe Dauman (Viacom, Inc.), Chase Carey (News Corporation), Glenn Britt (Time Warner Cable) and Jeff Bewkes (Time Warner).

The Cable Show 2011  has kicked off at McCormick Place in Chicago.  The three day gathering of cable’s operators, programmers, and vendors showcases the advancement of the industry that brings telephony, entertainment and high-speed broadband access to America.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel opened with a warm welcome and joked that he would like to apologize, on behalf of his entire family, for his brother Ari – a Hollywood agent and inspiration for the Entourage character Ari Gold.

Turning to serious matters, Emanuel noted the significant investment cable has made in Chicago, and the city’s commitment to encourage broadband availability.

NCTA’s new President and CEO, Michael Powell, summing up the nature of change in the cable industry, quoted Vaclav Havel  – “Everything is possible and nothing is certain.”

Powell noted that public policy challenges are much greater due to the multitude of content delivery options, and the interplay between them.  Government should, says Powell, spend as much time pruning old regulations as it does planting new seeds and embrace regulatory humility.

Following Powell’s remaks, a panel discussion moderated by Liz Claman and featuring Jeffrey Bewkes (Time Warner, Inc.), Glenn Britt (Time Warner Cable), Chase Carey (News Corporation), Philippe Dauman (Viacom, Inc.), Patrick Esser (Cox Communications), Neil Smit (Comcast Cable Communications) explored the interplay between delivery and content.

Much of the discussion focused on the challenge to operators of keeping customer attention in the face of so much online content.  Claman related the story of a friend’s child who had told his parents not to subscribe to cable during a move because they could get content online.

The operators acknowledged the challenge and suggested customer service, a focus on compelling content and innovation would be ways to address it.  They also noted the cable industry is not like the music or publishing industries in either content or delivery, and said it’s unlikely they would face the same fate.

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Michael Turk is a Partner in CRAFT | Media / Digital, a full-spectrum communications agency.  Learn more about CRAFT at www.craftdc.com.

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