Malone on a Roll, Whither Comcast/TWC?, Release Title II Now!, Bodenheimer’s Emmy!, RIP Carr – Paul S. Maxwell

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: Malone on a Roll, Whither Comcast/TWC?, Release Title II Now!, Bodenheimer’s Emmy!, RIP Carr – Paul S. Maxwell

My book, “The Revolutionary Evolution of the Media,” continues! This is a work in progress. Read the latest chapter here .

Comment : Dr. John resurfaced in a big way last week … and he’s going to get even bigger (see 2nd note below). Starz, which even under the former HBO guru has struggled a bit, has a new hook-up with Lionsgate. After all, good programming takes some time, so this hook-up -- which will probably turn into something more serious -- has Dr. John Malone on Lionsgate’s board and a nice bit of cross-ownership in place. The good Dr. has also been a bit busy in the online booking world as well.

In other happenings of note :

Whoa! No Colbert? Soon no Stewart? No wonder Leslie Moonves wants to buy out Sumner Redstone and get CBS for himself! But who would really want to be too close to the terrific talent-relations side of Phillipe Dauman’s Viacom? Undependence -- for real, that’s a pun, not spelling error -- makes sense. And that might give Moonves the war chest to acquire Viacom. Just think, a couple more stars bailing and Viacom’s stock might take even bigger hits.

OK, notwithstanding the shrugged shoulders as Comcast repeatedly disses its own subscribers, the “inevitable” air has gone out of the Comcast/Time Warner Cable balloon. It doesn’t look good. Never mind the fact the Federal Confusion Commission promises forbearance under Title II, the almost fundamentally comical dissident from Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai (Obama did it! Really! Even Congress is investigating!) rightly points out that the next Commission could enact all of the aspects Tom Wheeler promises to ignore. Right. Wall Street seems to trust Wheeler (who does know a thing or two about cable, broadband and mobile). No one else does. How else could you explain the rush of Republican Representatives and Senators to the side of big cable and broadband companies?

But that’s all a sideshow for the merger prospects. Ain’t gonna happen because, even if approved the conditions will allow Comcast to just say, “Oh, well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

So what might come next? Cue Dr. John and Tom Rutledge of Charter … after all, it was their idea in the first place. They might even give Brian Roberts a chance to buy some of what he really wanted anyway … some major markets that could give him a more or less national presence. At a bit higher per sub price, of course. And leave Charter a major No. 2 in the broadband marketplace.

So the Democrats picked Philadelphia for their 2016 nominating convention. Was that a booby prize for Comcast’s David Cohen as the President helped let the air out of the merger prospects?

OK, Tom … time to release the Title II proposal … as former FCC Commissioner Michael Powell noted on C-SPAN’s Communicators show, although tradition dictates no release before the vote … nothing legal prevents it. Something this serious belongs in what the President humorously calls transparency. And, for the record, count me on ACA’s side about special forbearance for the little guys.

Really nice to see the Sports Emmy guys awarding a lifetime achievement Emmy to the one-time King of Cable, ESPN’s George Bodenheimer. Rare that someone actually deserves one of those things. Gotta admit, I’ve known George since he was peddling ESPN in Denver to cable MSOs. Class guy all the way from the mailroom to the top. And, he pulled off one of the more audacious and meaningful deals in cable’s history … automatic sub fee increases for adding NFL games to the schedules.

On a very serious note: RIP David Carr. The broader media universe lost one of its best commentators … funny in an ironic or satirical way, Carr made too much sense. I’ll miss his trenchant observations.

In an almost 50-year career writing and reporting on media, Paul S. Maxwell started and/or ran some 45-plus publications ranging from CATV Newsweekly to Colorado Magazine to CableVision to Multichannel News to CableFAX and The BRIDGE Suite of daily newsletters and research publications. In between publishing stints, Maxwell served as an advisor and/or consultant to a number of major media companies and media start-ups including running a unit of MCI and managing a partnership of TCI and McGraw-Hill.

Send any and all criticisms, suggestions, rants, threats, corrections, etc. to him at cablemax@mac.com. He has a new Web site coming soon!

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