Backtalk: Hinderys "Tapestry"

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This week marks a major milestone for Cable Positive as ithonors Tele-Communications Inc. president and COO Leo J. Hindery Jr. with the Joel A.Berger Award at its second annual benefit dinner in New York.

Everyone, of course, knows who Hindery is, but somenewcomers in the business may not have ever had the privilege of knowing the unforgettableBerger, former group publisher of Multichannel News and Cablevision magazine.

Berger was one of the founding honorary chairs of CablePositive, a group with a mission to give real, financial assistance to industry employeesliving with HIV/AIDS.

Berger, who passed away in April 1995 from AIDS-relatedcomplications, would be both surprised about and thrilled at how this important industryorganization has flourished, particularly in this past year.

Last week, Cable Positive had already hit the $957,000 markfor its second annual benefit dinner, compared with the $260,000 that it raised in totalfor its maiden event last year.

In large part, that's because of some pretty savvy,behind-the-scenes strategizing by Hindery and Marc Nathanson, chairman and CEO of FalconCable TV Corp.

In addition to selling tables and individual seats, thosetwo executives thought that the way to go was to look for corporate underwriters whosecontributions would go primarily toward covering the cost of the event.

This means that every dollar from every table and seat thatis sold for this fund-raising dinner will actually go directly toward fighting thisdreadful disease, said Molly Padian, Cable Positive's director.

Padian gives Hindery high praise on other fronts, as well.Before he would accept the award, Hindery told her that he had to prove that he and TCIwere worthy of receiving it.

Hindery, who had been an active supporter of Cable Positivewhile he was heading up InterMedia Partners, found little, if any, existing support forthat organization when he jumped over to TCI just last February. Recall that just beforeHindery joined TCI, the MSO, reeling from a devastating third quarter, made draconian cutseverywhere.

But within a year, all of that has changed dramatically,and TCI is a major supporter of Cable Positive and other organizations that it hadabandoned.

Under Hindery's direction, TCI, in the first two months of1998 alone, conducted 218 "AIDS in the Workplace" seminars for employees in itssystems. That number is higher than the number of seminars that the entire cable industryheld in 1997, Padian said.

Catching up with Hindery last week, I heard the passionthat he clearly has in his heart for Cable Positive. He was thrilled that Sen. Tom Daschleof South Dakota, the Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate, would be presenting the awardto him.

"First, it's a devastating disease. Second, while itaffects society as a whole, it disproportionately affects the gay and lesbian population,creating a discriminatory environment, at times, in the workplace," he said.

And his third point was that Cable Positive happens to beone of four groups that create the "tapestry" for the entire industry, with hisother pet causes being Women in Cable & Telecommunications, the National Associationof Minorities in Cable and the Walter Kaitz Foundation.

So, become a part of the "fabric" -- there arestill seats left, and Padian has her heart set on hitting the $1 million fund-raisingmark, which is just within her grasp.

It's a worthy cause and a great night for cable to strutits stuff. In the strutting category, courtesy of Cablevision Systems Corp. CEO Jim Dolan,the Radio City Rockettes will be the opening act following the cocktail reception, to getpeople moving to their tables.

So, the clock is ticking, with March 4 looming. The dinneris being held in the New York Marriott Marquis. For more information, check out the Cable Positive web site. To order a table orticket, call Melissa Lloyd at (212) 713-7164.

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