Despite cable's troubles on Wall Street, Comcast Corp. chairman Ralph Roberts pledged to continue spending heavily — including $4 billion on upgrades in 2003 — banking that Comcast will reap the benefits in the end.
"Our faith in the industry is still strong," Roberts said Thursday night here, where he was honored with the National Television Academy Trustees' Award. Several hundred industry executives gathered for a touching tribute to Roberts, which was capped off by a serenade from the Keystone State Boys Choir, featuring Roberts' 13-year-old grandson, Tucker Roberts.
"Who can make subscribers pay for what they see, and have them watch it on a set they bought from QVC?" the choir sang in The Cable Man
— a rendition of The Candy Man
from the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Ted Turner, founder of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., introduced Roberts. "In '62, he wisely foresaw the demise of the suspender business and moved on to his true calling," Turner said.
The event featured a video tribute from Roberts' wife Suzanne. "I thought Ralph was absolutely crazy," Roberts said of her husband's decision to enter the cable business.
Also paying tribute: Brian Roberts, Julian Brodsky, Chuck Dolan, Jeff Bewkes, John Hendricks, Barry Diller, Bob Johnson, Brian Lamb and others.