In Depth

Cable Shows It Cares About New Orleans

NCTA Organizes Volunteer Rebuilding Effort

The cable industry is showing its love for the city of New Orleans—the home of this year’s NCTA convention and exposition—with a series of CableCares initiatives aimed at supporting rebuilding efforts in hurricane-damaged areas of the city and a gala closing fundraiser whose proceeds will benefit the efforts.

It’s the ninth time the show has been held in New Orleans, but the first time since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in August 2005. Scheduled to be held there the following spring, the show had to be moved to Atlanta.

“New Orleans has been so intrinsic to the cable business, and the venue to so many conventions, that we need to do something as an industry,” said Barbara York, NCTA’s senior VP of industry affairs.

Hundreds of attendees have signed up to volunteer on Saturday—and more are needed. They will work at city schools, refurbishing playgrounds and libraries.

“The response from the industry has been wonderful in terms of support, equipment donated and funding received to build some of the playgrounds,” said Mark Bell, VP of industry affairs for NCTA. “It’s been very encouraging, but we have a little ways to go: We need more people to plant trees, and to turn screwdrivers. The drive continues for volunteers.”

The effort will be coordinated with national nonprofit playground builder KaBOOM!
Ion Media Networks/qubo will fully fund new playgrounds at Sarah T. Reed and Fannie C. Williams elementary schools.

Discovery Education and LG Electronics are providing wiring, equipment and ongoing resources necessary to bring Banneker Elementary School a full complement of advanced cable services, including premium online resources, educational videos and 27 HDTV monitors.

Intel Corp. will provide Laurel Elementary School with a new media center, equipped with powerful desktop PCs, and will donate computers for classrooms.

In addition to the ongoing CableCares work to rebuild school and city libraries, CSG Systems and Open TV, along with individual donors, have funded the acquisition of more than 50 full classroom book sets at a cost of $250 each for local schools. The book drive continues through the show, and a Barnes & Noble set-up at the convention center will donate some of its proceeds as well.

CableCares’ grand finale takes place Tuesday, when Hall A of the convention center hosts a Battle of the Bands. “It will be the biggest musical throw-down the industry has seen in quite some time,” Mr. Bell said. “We’ve got 10 bands at least, on two alternating stages, sponsored by Motorola and Cisco.”

The event will be emceed by comedian Bill Bellamy, and in “American Idol” style, will feature a panel of celebrity judges as well as audience voting.