Washington -- The Cable Telecommunications Association
(CATA) is meeting here Feb. 18, probably to put the final touches on a plan that will lead
to the organization's termination after 23 years.
The board is expected to approve the plan, dubbed a
"strategic review," which will fold CATA's range of membership services
into the National Cable Television Association.
"We are discussing the plan that has been worked out
-- it's not quite done -- with the NCTA regarding consolidation of the member
services that CATA does into the NCTA," CATA president Stephen Effros said.
The plan was first reported in Multichannel News
Effros said he and NCTA president Decker Anstrom will brief
the press following the meeting. The NCTA's board meets here Feb. 17, in part to deal
with the CATA issues.
CATA, which is based in Fairfax, Va., serves midsized and
small cable operators -- although its board includes major MSOs Tele-Communications Inc.
and Cablevision Systems Corp., and the organization depends heavily on funding from them.
Cable-industry sources, speaking not for attribution, said
CATA's closing was accelerated by a decision by some of its bigger members to bolt
the group, as they questioned the need to finance two industry organizations.
But Effros and other cable-industry sources denied that a
funding cutoff was the issue. The issue for CATA was justifying its existence in an
industry that continues to consolidate and at a time when the NCTA is widely regarded as
operating at top performance under Anstrom's leadership.
"We fill holes," Effros said. "When Decker
came along, there was no hole to fill on Capitol Hill. He has done a brilliant job."
A possible funding shortage, CATA chairman and Charter
Communications chairman Barry Babcock said, was "never presented to me in that
way" as a reason for folding CATA.
CATA members, however, viewed the situation as one in which
they should be getting the biggest bang for the buck and attempting to obtain the benefits
of both CATA and the NCTA without paying twice.
"Do we need to support both organizations, knowing
that the NCTA is much more effective than it used to be?" Babcock asked.
One cable-industry leader said CATA was never a
"budget issue, but more a focus issue."
Effros said CATA's time frame for closing is probably
June. Babcock said timing questions would be left to Effros.
"The whole key to this thing is Steve Effros and what
Steve Effros wants to do," Babcock added.