Our Specials Tonight Are…

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This isn’t really a space for sharp opinions this week, except for one.

There’s a lot of good stuff to read in this week’s magazine beyond the front page.

I figured that out around the time I had a moment of Zen reading a 2,000-word article about free cash flow, written by Mike Farrell, to be found on pages 18 and 20. Rocco Commisso mentioned recently that Mike would be able to help me understand the concept, and he was right.

In our larger issues of the year, like this one and next week’s, there’s an awful lot to read (or at least skim) through, so this is kind of a reader service, highlighting various fun facts that might otherwise get lost in the sauce.

Sleuthy Steve Donohue found out (page 16) that Comcast has trademarked the phrase “Comcast Unlimited” and “Comcast Complete Any Distance” for its upcoming VoIP phone service — not a shock, because that’s the smart way to market the service. But it’s a fun fact anyway, right?

Linda Moss spotted a GSN daily item on our Web site (by Web editor Dave Cohen) that mentioned a couple of executive promotions and, following through, found out the network is dividing the dual jobs of ad-sales and affiliate-sales chiefs that it had combined only last August. That story’s on page 32.

Ted Hearn, our man in D.C., was our man in Vegas last week, delivering the NAB news of biggest impact to Multichannel News readers in his usual readable fashion. Ted was first with the story of the Ferree-Powell notion to force a hard, fast turnover of TV stations’ analog spectrum, and he’s kept you informed of the fallout ever since.

But wait, there’s more.

At my request (so sent those cards and e-mails my way), Ted had a Brian Lamb-style extended chat with Jeff Chester, the head of the Center for Digital Democracy and a minor thorn in the side of cable’s public policy types (pages 26-28). His views on cable represent an extreme that most people in the industry likely wouldn’t sanction, but are slightly more nuanced than you get in, say, a soundbite opposing Comcast buying Disney. For example, while he takes a shot at Lamb’s C-SPAN, it’s also revealed he opposes extending broadcasters’ must-carry protections onto all their multicast digital offshoots. That could be more important to C-SPAN than any of Chester’s opinions.

We waded into ad-sales waters on several up-front pages (no pun intended). Along with an overview of the cable and broadcast upfront auctions, there’s a nifty scorecard Mike Reynolds put together of what some networks’ strategies are this time around, and Donohue checks in with local ad sellers about why cable continues to lag on the political-ad front in this presidential election year.

A smattering of menu items. Please sample them and others. Choose your own favorites!