McSlarrow Keynotes NCTA: Full Text

Apr 1, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Keynote Remarks of Kyle McSlarrow, NCTA President & CEO, at The 2009 Cable Show
Good afternoon.
We are in Washington, D.C., this year, in part, because we knew that with a new President and a new Congress, it would be a time of change.
But we had no idea . . .
For those of us at NCTA, this is also our home. We are proud to be part of a great city, and very grateful for the gracious support of this convention by District leaders like Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.
We’ve just seen a video giving us a glimpse of our industry’s story in bringing broadband to America. It is a story of great promise and promises kept . . . and a story of opportunity for operators, programmers and vendors in our industry. It is easy to lose sight of how extraordinary our journey has been . . . or, how early it is in that journey.
Fifteen years ago, we didn’t have broadband; Most people didn’t even know what an Internet browser was.
Ten years ago, CableLabs developed a specification for something called a cable modem . . . and one of the leading technology giants in America said it wouldn’t work. Five years ago, there were still more Americans listening to the screech of a dial up modem than broadband customers.
But our industry listened to the consumer, invested the capital and built a broadband platform that is now available to 92 percent of all American households . . . a platform that enables spectacular applications . . . a platform that can help our country achieve other critical economic and social goals.
And you will see this vision realized and embodied in our Broadband Nation exhibit, which I invite all of you to visit when the floor opens after this afternoon’s wonderful panel of industry leaders.
We should also recognize that this is actually a fairly young and still developing marketplace . . .a phenomenon to be sure . . . but a phenomenon in its infancy with an incredible future. In the blink of an eye, everything changed. And given the pace of change, and because private investment has been and will continue to be the foundation on which we connect America, we should tread cautiously before assuming that traditional regulatory responses apply in a marketplace that is experimenting, growing and changing before our eyes. This is especially true today. It is impossible for any of us to think about our customers or our businesses without also thinking about today’s economic and financial backdrop.
Fortunately, we have every reason to believe that our industry will continue to be resilient and grow by continuing to provide consumers real value for services they want and need.And I would go farther . . . and say that we have a central role to play in our economic recovery as well.
During 2008, our industry added 7 million net customer connections for video, broadband or phone service. Broadband customers jumped 10 percent. Digital video customers increased by 9 percent. Primetime ratings for ad supported cable program networks were up 4 percent. And our phone customers grew by 30 percent.
This year alone, cable operators will invest $14 billion in network upgrades and expansion, and programmers are expected to invest another $20 billion in programming as well. This continued investment supports services to our customers, but it does something more . . . it supports an employment base that is critical in these challenging times.
Our industry directly and indirectly supports 1.5 million American jobs. And one study indicates that cable could have been responsible for 5 percent of all new net jobs created in America between 2002 and 2007.
But perhaps our biggest contribution to our nation’s economic recovery will be through the continued adoption of broadband, and the deployment of next generation technologies like Docsis 3.0 or “wideband.” Cable’s high speed Internet service redefined what it means to be “broadband,” and deployment of wideband will raise the bar again.
Broadband helps increase our nation’s productivity . . . and it can and should be an instrument for achieving other social goods, such as lowering health care or energy costs. Broadband empowers our citizens in countless ways that improve the quality of their lives . . . and every part of our business, from programmer to operator to vendor will have an important role to play.
The truth is we really don’t know what the future holds . . . we have merely an imperfect glimpse of what a truly connected nation would look like. But it is an exciting vision, and our industry fully intends to do its part to lead. Competition and our willingness to invest and to take risks have made every aspect of our business more innovative . . . more nimble . . . more responsive to and focused on the consumer.
The result is an unparalleled engine for entertainment and the delivery of innovative services. What justifies our optimism about the future? It’s simple: the value proposition for consumers has never been greater.
The investment in high quality programming . . . increasingly high definition programming . . . is being rewarded by consumers and widely recognized . . . as shown by the number of Emmys and other awards cable programming now garners.
And as consumers watch and use this incredible diversity of video programming, they pay less per channel and less per viewing hour than ever before.
Consumers also benefit from a triple play of video, broadband and digital voice services that cost in real terms 30 percent less than the same three services did 12 years ago, which offered less quality and far fewer features and choices. Our digital phone service will save households and small businesses more than $100 billion through 2012.
With retail prices generally stable for broadband, and speeds increasing dramatically, the priceper-megabit of our broadband service is falling rapidly. In many instances, download speeds have doubled or tripled over the last few years with the price of the product staying the same.
And in every category, consumers can realize declining prices by responding to discounts and free offerings of services based on long term subscriptions or flexibility in bundling. We should redouble our efforts to make that focus on value tangible to our current and prospective customers.
We should also continue to give back to our communities in intangible ways . . .
Government transparency is a hot topic today. So, it is worth noting that one of the great leaps forward in government transparency occurred when the cable industry created and launched CSPAN 30 years ago last month. Please join me in congratulating Brian Lamb and his management team on reaching this splendid milestone. Cable in the Classroom celebrates its 20th anniversary this year of providing connectivity to tens of thousands of schools and libraries.
Since 2005, cable programmers and operators have committed more than three quarters of a billion dollars in commercial airtime to educate and inform consumers and families about the digital transition, media literacy, parental control technology, and online safety. NCTA and our member companies have always strongly supported the Ad Council. We participate in many worthwhile Ad Council initiatives, including those targeted to key issues such as childhood obesity, foreclosures, hunger, and foster care adoption. And, I’m pleased that CableCares, which we launched during our Show in New Orleans last year, continues this week as well . . . making a positive impact in Washington D.C working with City Year and other great partners.
All of the program networks, operators and vendors represented in this room have hundreds of specific other examples of community service and charitable work supported by tens of thousands of employees in our industry. In total, our industry contributes $2 billion each year in charitable and philanthropic activities.
These examples are not just part of what we do, they reflect who we are. And we must remain a champion of corporate and social responsibility.
The theme of this show is Cable Takes Me There . . . which begs the question, where? We already know the answer: wherever the consumer wants to go.
This answer is what fuels the innovation that is taking place in television guides and tru2way; in switched digital technology and the use of improved video compression; in the use of IP technology and ensuring our services are available on every consumer device.
Whether it is connecting America or deploying wideband and next generation wireless broadband; whether it is providing more choice, or more seamless integration of the in home and mobile experience of all our services; whether it is experimenting with new business models and embracing the openness necessary to spark creativity in the interactive television experience . . . all of these are present on the floor and in the conversations and presentations you will be able to experience in the next couple of days at the Cable Show.
Thank you . . . and enjoy the Show.


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