Robbins, Bodenheimer to Face McCain Panel


Cox Communications Inc. president James Robbins and ESPN president George Bodenheimer are scheduled to testify Thursday on cable-rate issues before Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) Commerce Committee.

Robbins, who has blasted ESPN for seeking higher and higher license fees from MSOs, has threatened to drop ESPN if the network does not moderate its demands.

Bodenheimer, who held a press conference in Washington, D.C., to respond to Cox, complained that Cox has lost sight of ESPN’s past and current value to all cable operators. He is adamantly opposed to moving ESPN to a sports tier or a la carte, saying those options would drive up the price of cable for millions of sports fans.

Also scheduled to testify are National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs; Rodger Johnson, president and CEO of Knology Inc., a cable overbuilder; and Gene Kimmelman, director of the Consumers Union.

Mark Goldstein, director of physical-infrastructure issues at the U.S. General Accounting Office, is scheduled to be the lead witness. A GAO report last month cited several consumer problems associated with forced unbundling of cable programming into smaller tiers and a la carte services.