NCTA Bids Farewell to 2004, Sachs


This past year was a big year for the rollout of advanced cable services, National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs told reporters during a year-end briefing Monday -- his last as NCTA chief.

“By the end of this year, our industry will have invested approximately $95 billion, most of which is reflected in the upgrade and rebuilding of infrastructure, which is now largely complete. And that, in turn, has enabled our companies to launch and roll out advanced digital-broadband services,” Sachs said.

Sachs, who announced his resignation as NCTA president in June, said he expects the NCTA board to announce his successor during the first quarter of 2005.

The NCTA said cable operators added about 500,000 telephone customers during 2004, mostly through new voice-over-Internet-protocol systems.

On the video side, cable operators offered HDTV programming in 177 out of 210 U.S. TV markets, representing 90 million cable homes passed.

Sachs also said 17 cable networks now offer HDTV programming, either full-time or as a substantial part of their schedule, and operators were carrying the digital signals of 450 broadcast stations as of September.

Sachs also reviewed the industry’s key legislative and regulatory issues of the year, including the Janet Jackson Super Bowl fiasco, which prompted cable systems nationwide to run more than 3 million public-service announcements throughout the year explaining the parental controls available on cable.

And he noted that efforts to implement a la carte cable pricing “did not materialize” after the Federal Communications Commission released a study that found that a la carte pricing “would lead to less choice and higher pricing for consumers.”