In Depth

Editorial: Meeting Consolidation Idea Based on Fallacy

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, at the behest of its board of directors, soon will be talking to top executives at a number of cable industry associations about consolidating meetings to two periods of time, spring and fall. It’ll be a tough sell, and one that actually isn’t in the long-term best interests of the cable operators who are pushing for the consolidation.

According to Paul Maxwell, writing in CableFAX, at a recent NCTA board meeting there was a discussion about there being “too many meetings and shows” in the industry. “Just think,” Mr. Maxwell wrote from the perspective of some in the meeting, “of all the airplane tickets and time away from the job we could eliminate if we just found a way to get rid of these wasting time meetings.” And “Just think … of how much more could be accomplished if our employees were working for us!” He went on to write that he thought the idea was wrong-headed, and he’s correct.

For several years now, cable has had a week in September that’s referred to as “Hell Week.” A number of industry events are held that week in Manhattan, generally themed around the subject of diversity.
What is not needed, as Mr. Maxwell points out, is another “Hell Week” or week and a half, or even two weeks, that would be a catch-all incorporating the other important events of the industry.

The allure of saving the expenses incurred in traveling to the various industry shows is strong, as is the idea that Mr. or Ms. Executive is doing his or her work from his or her company office.

But truth be told, in regard to the latter, with the ubiquity of PDAs, most executives are getting lots of work done from wherever they are physically located, and sometimes getting even more done without the distractions of being in their home office.

And the money saved by cutting down on traveling is a red herring. The real issue is the value in attending the various events, and making sure they are held at appropriate times that actually do not conflict with other major events so that those attending can put their full attention to the important business of that particular gathering.

For example, take the annual summit of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, which for years has been held every summer and soon will be moving to the fall. Would it make sense for the CTAM summit to be held, instead, the day after the NCTA national convention and a day before the annual boot camp of Women in Cable & Telecommunications?

We think not. To continue with this example, there is no more important issue for cable operators than marketing. It needs the full, undivided attention of the marketing professionals in the industry. By making it—or other important events—just part of a round-robin, eye-blurring, body-exhausting week of conferences and seminars that just divides everyone’s attentions is nonsensical.

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