National Show: Cable Eyes the Future

Apr 4, 2005  •  Post A Comment

At this year’s National Show the insular cable industry is opening up.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s annual convention, running April 3 through April 5 in San Francisco, will spotlight new product offerings and feature more speakers from outside the ranks of cable operators and programmers than ever before.

Stephen Burke, Comcast’s chief operating officer and chairman of the National Show, said conference organizers came up with the overall theme, “Cable Puts You in Control,” in a brainstorming session about six months ago.

“I think it works on a bunch of different levels,” Mr. Burke said. “The major mass investment in infrastructure is essentially behind us, and that infrastructure allows us to offer more and more things to people that give them more and more control over the way they consume entertainment, information and telecommunications.

“This show is about highlighting how diverse the cable industry is now and how consumers who want various devices can use them and take advantage of them with our platform.”

By booking the show at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, organizers said, they are looking to connect with both Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

“When you look at the focus of the sessions you can see that it’s not just the traditional cable universe of operators and programmers,” Mr. Burke said. “We have great speakers coming in from the technology community; we have people coming in from the telecommunications community; and obviously we have people coming in from Hollywood and the broadcast community.”

The show’s opening panel features Paul Allen, owner of Charter Communications; Bing Gordon, executive VP and chief creative officer of Electronic Arts; Tom Rutledge, chief operating officer of Cablevision Systems; and Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo! They planned to address breakthroughs in broadband services.

Monday’s big panel on “Understanding New Media Markets” consists of John Chambers, president and CEO of Cisco Systems; Jonathan Miller, chairman and CEO of AOL; Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founder of DreamWorks; Larry Page, president of Google; and Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper will serve as moderator.

The Tuesday, April 5, panel covers Internet protocol and its transforming influence on communications. Scheduled speakers include Glenn Britt, chairman and CEO, Time Warner Cable; Rob Glaser, CEO of Real Networks; Len Lauer, president and COO of Sprint; and Jim Robbins, president and CEO of Cox Communications.

The closing session Tuesday tackles the impact of digital technology on television and features Jeff Bewkes, chairman of Time Warner’s entertainment and network group; Peter Chernin, president and COO of News Corp.; and Bob Wright, chairman and CEO of NBC Universal. Mr. Burke said he has invited The Walt Disney Co.’s new CEO Bob Iger to join that panel, but Mr. Iger had not finalized plans at press time.

This year’s show features new exhibits, such as CableLab’s CableNet, which includes 9,800 square feet of displays of futuristic products. This will be CableNet’s 13th year at the National Show.

Other notable displays include the Best Buy Fun Zone and a Game Net Conference with its video-gaming pavilion covering 3,900 square feet.

Overall, NCTA has sold 189,000 square feet of exhibition space in the Moscone Center, up 13 percent from last year’s show in New Orleans, said Barbara York, the organization’s chief administrative officer and senior VP for industry affairs. Ms. York said she expected the remaining 5,000 square feet to sell, which would make the show a sellout for the first time.

National Show 2005

When: April 3-5

Where: Moscone Center, San Francisco

Vanguard Awards Ceremony and Reception

When: April 4, 5-7 p.m.

Where: Moscone West, third level

Purpose: To honor innovation, leadership, creativity and achievement in the cable and telecommunications industry

Cost: $65 (individual), $650 (table); tickets are available on-site before the event begins