Cable Operators

HDTV: They’re Not in It for the Money

6/16/2004 10:55 AM Eastern

New York -- Several top MSO, programming and ad-agency officials said Wednesday that they view HDTV as a cost of doing business, and not a potential profit center.

“Specific profitability is lost in the long term,” Time Warner Cable executive vice president of programming Fred Dressler said during a Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing panel on HDTV here.

“Everybody in the beginning was looking at a way to profit from this thing … There really isn’t a revenue stream there,” he added.

His fellow panelist, Dennis Quinn, executive VP of business development for Turner Broadcasting System Inc., referring to Turner Network Television, said that a if programmer is a top-four cable network and holds important sports rights like the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing and the National Basketball Association, its viewers expect HDTV programming.

“It is the price of being a leader long-term,” he added.

On the agency side, panelist Tim Hanlon, senior VP of Starcom Mediavest Group, told CTAM attendees that producing HDTV programming is not that much more costly than standard-definition fare. “It’s a cost of doing business going forward,” he added.

Ironically, the CTAM panel was entitled, “Leveraging HDTV: Putting Profit in the Picture.”

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