For many in the cable industry -- from Glenn Jones to
scores of people at various MSOs involved in the recent spate of deals -- this year's
National Show marks a time of moving on.
Decker Anstrom, the National Cable Television Association's
president and CEO, will host his final National Show this week before taking the reins at
The Weather Channel Aug. 1.
And conference chairman Marc Nathanson, also chairman of
Falcon Communications Inc., is among the "old guard" selling out to the new
Vulcan Northwest Inc. chairman Paul Allen -- whose company
is buying Falcon, among other MSOs -- and AT&T Corp. chairman C. Michael Armstrong
will have headline speaking roles at the show. They are making their first big appearances
at cable events.
Armstrong plans to offer "a broad-stroke,
big-picture" look at AT&T's cable strategy, NCTA industry-affairs vice president
Barbara York said.
Allen, meanwhile, will share a panel with three cable
veterans: Time Warner Inc. chairman Gerald Levin, Comcast Corp. president Brian Roberts
and Viacom Inc chairman Sumner Redstone.
Nathanson said Allen, who attended last year's Western
Show, is "very interested in seeing the [exhibit] floor. He's not coming just to fly
in and fly out and be on a panel."
Nathanson said the huge Cable '99 exhibit floor and panel
sessions would reflect current and future trends -- cable consolidation and cable's
morphing into computer and telephone services.
Given all of the consolidation among the biggest MSOs in
recent weeks and months, many convention-goers may principally use the show as a
After the dust settles, the top 10 MSOs will reach 55
million-plus subscribers, with the top six controlling 49 million of those, according to
In a bow to new technology, the general sessions and six
education sessions will be Webcast on the NCTA's Web site, York said.
Anstrom -- who was in Chicago last week for the
Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau's Local Cable Sales Management Conference -- estimated
that Cable '99 attendance would be "30,000 or more."
Others at the NCTA, however, expected the total to be more
like the 29,000-plus that attended last year's show in Atlanta.