Washington -- Cable Telecommunications Association (CATA)
president Steve Effros made it official last week by announcing that the trade association
will close its doors June 30.
The move was made with the expectation that the National
Cable Television Association will continue to produce at least one of its information
guides, which are popular with cable managers in the field.
Effros said the time was right to end CATA because
cable-industry consolidation was making the dual existence of CATA and the NCTA
"You have to know when to hold and know when to fold
them," Effros said in a 15-minute joint conference call with NCTA president Decker
Anstrom last Thursday.
The top 30 MSOs belong to both the NCTA and CATA, Effros
said. He added that second-half-1999 member dues will be used for severance pay to
CATA's three professional and eight support personnel, and to cover other wind-down
Effros, 53, said he plans to remain active in the cable
business after he and his wife return from an October vacation to Italy.
The NCTA gave Effros a multiyear consulting contract. In
addition, he plans to write a book that will largely reprise his past efforts to deflate
excessive enthusiasm surrounding the transition to high-definition television. A
newsletter is also in the works.
"I am looking at all of that," Effros said.
"The good news is that now, I am really going to be able to say what I really
Anstrom alluded to Effros' candidness by saying in a
prepared statement, "All of us in the cable industry have benefited greatly from
CATA's spirited, tell-it-like-it-is advocacy."
Effros said his book is tentatively titled Pause: A
Cynic's Guide to the Information Superhypeway. The newsletter will probably be
called TATFAM, short for "Think About That for a Minute," a famous
The NCTA is expected to continue producing CATA's
periodic briefs, which try to explain regulatory changes to MSO field managers. Effros
said it was unlikely that the CATA name would continue to be used once the NCTA takes
Effros said the newsletter would likely supplant his CATAFAX
-- a periodic communication to the industry often used to chide regulators and lawmakers
for micromanaging cable operators.
CATA executive vice president Jim Ewalt was weighing
several job offers, including one from the NCTA. CATA communications vice president Anne
Cowan was also considering offers, but it was not clear whether a move to the NCTA was in
Anstrom said the few CATA members that are not already NCTA
members will be encouraged to join the NCTA.
However, no invitation will be extended to CATA member
Ameritech New Media, the cable arm of Baby Bell Ameritech Corp. Incumbent phone companies
are barred from joining the association under NCTA bylaws.
Donna Garofano, vice president of public affairs for ANM,
said she was disappointed to see CATA go away, especially because the NCTA refused to
grant her company admittance.