Profile: Rob Kennedy

Feb 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Title: Executive vice president and co-chief operating officer of C-SPAN, the Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network, since 1995. Mr. Kennedy joined C-SPAN in 1987 as vice president of business affairs.
Future: “It’s very hard to look at anything beyond three to four years. A core tenet of the C-SPAN in the future is to broaden our programming to new platforms: digital television, digital radio and the Internet.”
DTV: “On Jan. 22, we launched C-SPAN 3 as a full-time network designed for cable operators’ digital tiers. C-SPAN 3 was a part-time service since 1997; on Jan. 22 we made it full time and began an aggressive rollout. Time Warner’s commitment [Feb. 12] will more than double the homes that C-SPAN 3 is available to from 1.4 [million] to 3.1 million homes.
“We’re not actually doing a digital broadcast, because we’re basically a cable service-everything we do travels over cable. We’re converting C-SPAN from an analog plant to a digital plant: We’ll increasingly use digital servers instead of analog tape. The quality is higher-we can more efficiently share programs between television, the Internet and, to some extent, radio. We’re reconfiguring our internal plant so that digital files can be shared among different units here.
“We’re in the process of developing an information-management system within C-SPAN that will allow us to capture, track and store all of our programs-and information on the programs (metadata)-for television, radio and the Internet. We sent out a request for proposals last year, received responses in October and had vendor presentations last month. We’ll probably make a decision in April or May.”
Digital radio: “We have a traditional radio station here in Washington, which launched in October 1997. In 1998, we did deals with Sirius and XM Satellite to provide a national platform.”
Internet: “The core of our Internet strategy is to put television and radio programming on the Web so that it is available on an on-demand basis. Metadata will allow viewers to search these on-demand archives and find programs of interest. For example, working with a company called Virage, we created a campaign video search engine so that you can type in any candidate’s name, topic, date or location and search by those criteria. So if you want to know what John McCain said about taxes in South Carolina, you could type in the key words and the search engine would find clips in which John McCain spoke about taxes in South Carolina.
“In the future, we’ll take that a step further: We’ll have personalized, automatic searches based on your preferences. If you let us know what issues or persons you’re interested in following, we will automatically do the searches for you.”