News

Tough Issues Make Independent Show No Day at the Beach

7/25/2008 8:00 PM Eastern

Independent cable operators have come to steamy Walt Disney World this week to discuss troubling topics such as the digital-TV transition, programming and regulatory issues at The Independent Show, the joint annual conference of the National Cable Television Cooperative and the American Cable Association.

The confab kicked off Sunday night with a welcome reception, and ends this Wednesday, July 30, with a member and vendor golf tournament.

The Independent Show’s total pre-registered attendance of 1,189, which includes family members, already beats 2007’s final numbers, according to NCTC officials. So far, 158 independent cable companies will be at the meeting, with systems representing 7.2 million subscribers.

Total actual member attendance (families excluded) at The Independent Show is 293, up 8% over 2007’s 271, with 64% of the member companies attending this year serving less than 10,000 subscribers. More than 100 programmers and vendors will be exhibiting at the meeting.

There will be panels during the three days of business sessions at the Disney Yacht & Beach Club covering topics such as retransmission consent, the digital TV transition, competition, marketing and expanding HDTV service.

David Donovan, president of the Association for Maximum Service Television, known as MSTV, will be on hand to update independent operators Tuesday about broadcasters’ digital TV efforts.

The ACA will present a panel called “Retransmission 101,” which will feature ACA president and CEO Matt Polka and ACA outside counsel Chris Cinnamon of Cinnamon-Mueller. The session is aiming to help independent operators face a fall season filled with negotiations for the next three-year round of retransmission consent.

In addition, NCTC president and CEO Jeff Abbas will moderate a session that offers “A Front Row Seat to the DTV Transition.” His panel will include Robert Gessner of Massillon Cable TV; Gary Shorman of Eagle Communications; Patty McCaskill of SuddenLink and Pat Deville of Buckeye CableSystem.

Guest speakers at the show include Greg Schwem, a humorist who specializes in poking fun at corporate life and the latest technologies people cannot do without. Schwem is the speaker at Tuesday’s luncheon.

Today, Monday July 28, author and frequent talk-show guest Craig Karges was set to appear at the show’s luncheon and do one of his trademark presentations, which blends mystery, psychology, humor and intuition.

The NCTC, a not-for-profit programming and hardware purchasing cooperative, serves more than 1,100 cable operators. NCTC member companies own and operate cable systems serving 16 million subscribers.

The ACA is a lobbying group representing 1,100 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for more than 7 million subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America.

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