Diversity Week Events Help Cable Folks Fall in Together


Even untethered from the marketing- centric CTAM Summit (coming up Oct. 14-16 in Orlando, Fla.), cable’s annual slate of Diversity Week events had healthy turnouts of people turning the page to autumn and celebrating the roles of wo men and minorities in the industry’s programming and operating businesses.

The week’s central occasion — the Walter Kaitz Foundation fundraising dinner on Sept. 12 at the New York Hilton — featured a surprise celebrity, in the person of Jennifer Lopez, who has a new programming pact with the nuvoTV network.

“I am here and joining the cable world,” J-Lo declared from the podium. “I believe the time is now for all Americans to be able to enjoy wonderful entertainment that refl ects a more modern Latino audience, with an accurate picture of the rich, multicultural life of our nation’s outstanding community.”

Cox Communications president Patrick Esser, accepting a diversity champion award on Cox’s behalf, said diversity and inclusion have “to be a fundamental core value” at companies. “If it isn’t, we’ll lose relevance.”

The week’s events certainly showed they’re relevant.

Women In Cable Telecommunications’ leadership conference Monday and Tuesday – helped by Chelsea Clinton’s opening session — saw healthy attendance gains. It reported 850 people at the Touchstones award luncheon and 700 at the conference overall, a gain of about 100 people for each event.

The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications estimated about 700 attended its conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, down slightly from the 25th-anniversary conference a year ago.

And the Association of Cable Communicators said its Forum turnout was about 10% ahead of 2011.

Next year, when the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing’s summit will be back in the mix, the Kaitz dinner will be held for the 30thth time, on Oct. 9, 2013, at the Marriott Marquis hotel.

White House Call Puts Jeff Shell Atop BBG

President Obama has nominated Jeff Shell, president of NBCUniversal International, to be chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. That’s an independent entity overseeing all U.S. government-backed, nonmilitary, international broadcasting comprising broadcasts in 59 languages via Voice of America, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia (RFA) and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

A longtime programming executive, Shell has been based in London for the past year. He previously oversaw Comcast Programming Group before the cable company combined with NBCU in a joint venture.

Shell also helped the president get elected the first time around. He is on an OpenSecrets.org list of “bundlers,” having raised $200,000 to $500,000 for the 2008 election. Bundlers collect contribution checks from friends and associates to present to the campaign in a “bundle.”

This isn’t the first time an NBCU executive has gotten a White House offer that couldn’t be refused. In 2005, then-senior vice president of corporate communications Kevin Sullivan was picked as assistant secretary of education for communications and outreach. He eventually became White House communications director — the Toby Ziegler job in NBC’s The West Wing.

Most people probably know the BBG post from former chair Kenneth Tomlinson, who had landed there after catching flak as Corp. for Public Broadcasting chairman over using political litmus tests for new hires and efforts to add more conservative programming to noncommercial TV and radio.

— John Eggerton

Genachowski Tweets, But How Many Hear?

Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski held a Q&A in the Twittersphere on Sept. 11, from Twitter headquarters in Northern California, weighing in on spectrum issues, competition, broadband deployment, Internet freedom and 9/11, as weightily as one can in 140 characters.

He used the hashtag #AskJulius, but neglected to use it on his initial tweets, making it hard to find them.

An FCC representative said the omission included his initial tweet about his brother seeing people fall from the Twin Towers (a tweet he later repeated with the hashtag, and which the commission retweeted from @FCC).

Two Q&A responses, one directed to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Calif.) about international Internet governance, also needed hashtag help. (Genachowski and Rubio are in agreement on preserving a multi-stakeholder model.)

“The chairman enjoyed entering the Twitterverse with the first ever FCC live Twitter chat,” a commission rep said, “and was pleased to be able to answer so many questions from the public. He’s looking forward to more engagement in the future through Twitter and other social platforms.”

— John Eggerton


On Sept. 7, The Cable Center dedicated the theater at its Denver site in the name of John Malone (third from l.), the famed cable entrepreneur and chairman of Liberty Media. In return, the center received a $1 million personal donation from Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media (far l.); Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global Inc.;, and David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery Communications (r.).