NCTA Readies HDTV Blitz


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.

While 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 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

While WiFi may pose a threat to cable, the technology -- which allows laptop
owners to get free access to broadband networks -- will also get its own

"We heard there were two or three [WiFi-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 attendance figures, but they said the show is
tracking with last year's confab, which drew about 17,000