While I Was in Eastern Europe, the “Cable” Industry Disappeared!

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: While I Was in Eastern Europe, the “Cable” Industry Disappeared!

First the hard news: Federal Confusion Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler punted -- for now -- on STBs (that’s set-top boxes, not some new disease). In my last column before I "disappeared" I wondered, predicted and hoped he would. Since then, the demand that he modify a little non-transparency rule and share just what the proposal might contain or might have contained has turned into a gaggle of ever-escalating shout-outs. And, under pressure, Wheeler capitulated early Friday, relaxing the Sunshine Rules … a little bit. As Multichannel News’ John Eggerton first reported, quoting a statement from the Future of TV Coalition, “Lifting the ‘sunshine’ prohibitions is meaningless if the public isn’t even allowed to know the details of the plan. This isn’t just some ‘inside the beltway’ fight -- it’s a question of whether the real-world risks to consumers and creators are going to be addressed or just swept under the rug." No kidding.

And now for the soft news: While I was cycling from Prague to Budapest along the Danube with two other “cable” industry couples, the National “Cable” Tele-communications Association did some disassociating by dropping the word “cable” from its name. It is now NCTA -- The Internet & Television Association. Or something like that. The NCTA sort of copied the format of the once-named Cellular Telephone Industry Association that is now CTIA -- The Wireless something or other.

The NCTA also killed its 65-year old national convention … and is now working on a replacement series of events.  Anybody’s guess what that might be … after all, the Boston show last May turned out to be a real bust … only the Cable TV Pioneer and The CableCenter Hall of Fame dinners drew large audiences and amounted to anything.

Perhaps they should query Wheeler, who once ran both associations at different times, about any ideas he might want to share. They could even decide to crown him … not saying with what, though.

The NCTA’s abrupt decision to kill its long-running show left associations and other non-profits a bit up in the air about the no-longer-scheduled March show.  Nearly all the other industry organizations have used the show to meet (NCTA board), lobby and eat (NAMIC breakfast, WICT lunch, Cable TV Pioneers dinner, The CableCenter Hall of Fame celebration dinner).

The new “plan” -- which was delivered to the NCTA board on Friday the 7th ­ -- is interesting because it probably has been cobbled together without much input from these other industry groups. And with its now much-diminished power the NCTA will be hard-pressed to set the parameters.

Most likely, a one-day “new tech review” for D.C. plus the The CableCenter Hall of Fame.

I think it would be a very good idea for each organization to say, as they get included in the planning or told what they each must do otherwise, “Thanks; we’ll get back to you at NCTA.”  In the meantime, they all ought to meet and think through what’s best for each group individually and in mutually beneficial partnerships.

A couple of major meetings will probably be a little better off in the long run: SCTE’s regular tech and equipment show and the Independent Show co-hosted by the American Cable Association and the National Cable TV Cooperative could be key winners.  And perhaps the Cable TV Pioneers will migrate to the Independent show?

Random Notes:

The continuing influence of Dr. John Malone: following an old, but lucrative, script, Arris is awarding equity to Charter as it buys more and more equipment. Ain’t the first time. Just ask Ed Breen how well this works!

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