Las Vegas -- The cable industry's heightened interest in the
consumer-electronics world was underscored by the number of top-level cable
executives at the Consumer Electronics Show here this past week.
Among those in attendance: Cablevision Systems Corp. chairman Charles Dolan,
Insight Communications Co. Inc. CEO Michael Willner, Advance/Newhouse president
Robert Miron, Comcast Corp. president and Cable Television Laboratories Inc.
chairman Brian Roberts, Cox Communications Inc. CEO Jim Robbins and Time Warner
Cable president Glenn Britt.
Cable executives believe it's crucial to increase their retail presence in
the face of competition from direct-broadcast satellite, which has taken
advantage of its retail presence to sell digital-video-recording and
high-definition-TV set-tops to consumers.
The plug-and-play compatibility signed by the National Cable &
Telecommunications Association and the Consumer Electronics Association last
month only intensifies the relationship between the two groups.
Industry sources predicted that TV sets with built-in cable tuners and
conditional-access capabilities will be available by Christmas 2003.
Cable operators at CES were both paying homage to the consumer-electronics
crowd and working on the next steps to expand their retail presence to video.
"This is a great changing time," Roberts said. "It's a watershed change.
Every MSO is here."
Added Britt: "We have to engage the retail and CE industry. It will make our
business better and more competitive."
Cable executives' turnout was to the degree that Roberts joked that CES was
generating better attendance than some NCTA events.
NCTA CEO Robert Sachs retorted that he was duly noting the faces of those
cable executives in attendance, and he expects them all in Chicago in June at
the National Show.