National Show in HD


National Cable & Telecommunications Association officials previewed next month's National Show, which will likely be dominated by HDTV, the technology cable is banking on to help it compete against direct-broadcast satellite.

Though there are only a handful of cable networks currently offering HD feeds, NCTA CEO Robert Sachs said several HD-related announcements will be made at the show, which would suggest that other networks are readying HD feeds.

The centerpiece of the June 8-11 show will be the HD pavilion, which will contain displays from Home Box Office, Cinemax, Showtime, Discovery Networks U.S., ESPN, A&E Network, Madison Square Garden Network, Bravo and HDNet. It'll also have a bar, a Microsoft Corp. Xbox wired to an HD set and a 63-inch HD plasma set.

While wireless fidelity (Wi Fi) may pose a threat to cable, the technology — which allows laptop owners to get free access to broadband networks — will also get its own pavilion.

"We heard there were two or three Wi Fi-friendly Starbucks outside the convention center. We didn't want people wandering out there," convention chair and Showtime Networks Inc. CEO Matt Blank said.

NCTA officials were mum on expected attendance figures, but said the show is tracking with last year's convention, which drew about 17,000 attendees.