NCTA Sets New Orleans Agenda

3/28/2008 8:00 PM Eastern

With seven weeks to go, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association Thursday unveiled most of its agenda for the 2008 version of The Cable Show, the cable industry’s marquee convention, slated for May 18 to 20 in New Orleans.

The Cable Show
* Current estimates
Starts: Sunday, May 18
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m.
Exhibitors: 330*
Attendees: 15,000*
Site: New Orleans

The constant evolution of technology, content and advertising in the cable industry made it more difficult than in years past to find and receive commitments from industry experts willing to share their expertise, said NCTA senior vice president of industry affairs Barbara York. Among the keynoters this year: Deborah Wahl Meyer, vice president and chief marketing officer of Chrysler.

“But we’re dead on track compared to previous years, in terms of timing and scheduling. We’re moving and grooving,” York said.

This year’s edition heads to New Orleans, a visit postponed for two years by the ravages Hurricane Katrina committed on the Crescent City in August 2005. As it rolls into a town that considers itself the birthplace of jazz, the show will feature a hearty jambalaya of speeches, panels and sessions focusing on emerging technologies, multimedia content and advertising, as well as a healthy serving of altruism.

The general session will kick off with an opening welcome from convention co-chairs Debra Lee, chairman and CEO of BET Holdings, and Mediacom Communications chairman and CEO Rocco Commisso, as well as a state-of-the-industry speech from NCTA CEO Kyle McSlarrow.

Following the introductory addresses, a panel titled “Generation Next: What’s Now and What’s New in Broadband Media” and moderated by former FCC chairman William Kennard will feature Peter Chernin, CEO of News Corp.; Intel CEO Paul Otellini; Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Yoshi Yamada, CEO of Panasonic North America.

On Monday, May 19, the general session theme will be “Bit by Bit: Convergence Creates the Picture.” The panel, which includes the likes of Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt and Sun Microsystems chairman Scott McNealy, will take turns discussing how cable and its technology allies are harnessing the power of IP technology to create the next generation of voice, video and data businesses.

Tuesday’s session, “Getting Engaged: Advertising’s Quest to Connect,” will include a keynote address from Wahl Meyer of Chrysler.

The advertising panel will include Cox Communications president Pat Esser; David Verklin, CEO of Aegis Media Americas and Fox Networks Group CEO Tony Vinciquerra. This panel will be moderated by Sanford C. Bernstein cable analyst Craig Moffett.

Even with experts getting harder to line up, the NCTA is ramping up promotion of the show just about on schedule. Last year, the NCTA released an initial list of just four executives participating in one general session panel 85 days in advance of the convention in Las Vegas. It would issue several more releases throughout February, March and April detailing additional participants, sessions and events.

However, the organization released a more comprehensive list of panelists, sessions and participants on March 28, 2007, only 43 days before the 2007 show’s debut in Las Vegas.

Thursday’s release comes 54 days ahead of the show’s return to New Orleans.

York said any perception that this year’s show is running behind schedule is likely due to the fact that the NCTA decided against holding an official press conference this year to announce The Cable Show’s lineup.

“We usually do the announcements and hold the press conference about six to seven weeks before the show,” she said. “There’s no press conference this year, because people will just take the press release, so there’s no need to do it.”

York added that she didn’t sense any type of delay this year, rather, “I sense a tremendous amount of overwork due to the charity events.” An NCTA initiative known as Cable Cares is trying to raise funds and support efforts to restore New Orleans. In addition to Tuesday night’s “Battle of the Bands” fundraising event — featuring cable-industry honchos moonlighting as rock stars — the NCTA said more than 200 individual and corporate volunteers will help wire a New Orleans elementary school, repaint and landscape another pair of local schools and construct a pair of playgrounds from scratch, for instance.

York said registration for this year’s show so far is on par with last year’s event, when more than 15,000 attendees participated.

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