As cable modems and digital TVs start to hit store shelves,
the Western Show will include a
significant retail component this year.
The show, to be held at the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention
Center from Dec. 1 through 4, will be the last in the Orange County city until 2001. It
will move to Los Angeles in 1999 and 2000, as construction to expand the Anaheim center is
As would be expected, the trend toward offering broadband
and high-speed-data services is a major theme of the show, "Cable Clicks!"
sponsored by the California Cable Television Association.
In recent years, the CCTA has tried to attract exhibitors
and attendees from Silicon Valley in order to raise the visibility of both the Western
Show and the cable industry itself within the computer world.
This year, "the new kids on the block" are
retailers, said C.J. Hirschfield, vice president of industry affairs for the CCTA.
"We're seeing a lot of interest on the part of the
retail community," Hirschfield said.
For example, CableNet, the show's annual technology
exhibit, will feature products including Internet-protocol telephony devices,
high-speed-data communications and high-definition television.
CableNet also will present these technologies in a
different format -- a simulated living room and home office -- to demonstrate how this
equipment is used in a real-life setting. A simulated retail setting will be part of the
exhibit, as well.
Top industry executives will discuss issues ranging from
industry consolidation to the role of cable in the burgeoning U.S. telecommunications
The general session on Wednesday, Dec. 2, "Delivering
the Goods," focuses on consolidation in the cable marketplace. Panelists include Leo
J. Hindery Jr., president and chief operating officer of Tele-Communications Inc.; Barry
Diller, chairman and CEO of USA Networks Inc.; Gordon Crawford, vice president of Capital
Research Management; and Robert Wright, president of NBC. The moderator will be CNBC Business
Center co-host Maria Bartiromo.
James Robbins, president and CEO of Cox Communications
Inc.; John Malone, chairman and CEO of TCI; and Geraldine Laybourne, president of Oxygen
Media, will participate in a session entitled "The Big Pipe," moderated by Ben
Stein, host of Comedy Central's Win Ben Stein's Money.
This session, to be held Thursday, Dec. 3, will center on
panelists' views on cable's role in U.S. telecommunications.
Last year's show drew about 28,000 people and, so far,
preregistration has been running slightly ahead of 1997 levels, Hirschfield said. The
show's popularity has risen dramatically in the past seven years -- attendance in 1990 was
17,000 -- mainly because of the inclusion of telephone, computer, Internet and satellite
companies into the mix.
Accommodating that growth has not been an easy task,
Hirschfield said, adding that the show's biggest challenge as it grows is giving
exhibitors the space that they want within the confines of the convention center, without
limiting the total number of exhibitors.
The planned expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center --
which just completed its first phase -- will add about 40,000 square feet of exhibit
space, as well as more ballrooms and meeting rooms.