Stormy Denver Weather's Snow Problem For Events


Despite fears of potential bad weather — thoroughly justified, as Denver was hit with about two feet of snow in midweek — Cable Connection Fall events were well attended, at least compared with lowball expectations.

CTAM Summit, the cable marketing conference that got a week's worth of events started on Sunday (Oct. 25), ended up with 1,990 attendees, according to communications director Diana Cronan. A few weeks ago the forecast was 1,600, down from 2,200 a year ago in Boston.

CTAM CEO Char Beales said the pickup (described as a steady roll in the weeks leading to the conference) reflected overall optimism about the economy and the cable business. “People are confident, business is getting better, and the power of getting together is pretty important to people,” she said.

Curtain Rises

The Positively Cable musical revue — a.k.a. the Cable Follies — brought about 250 people to the Denver Performing Arts Center Sunday night. That was below expectations, based on 600 RSVPs, but it snowed a little that day, too, and Food Network sponsored a dueling reception at the Hyatt Regency Hotel featuring Rachael Ray and HGTV's Vern Yip.

Positively, highlights for The Wire were a tribute to NCTA's Rob Stoddard (“the nicest guy in cable”) and an ode to over-exposure on Twitter, based on Michael Jackson's “Thriller.” (“It's after midnight and some narcissist is typing on the Web...”.)

Over 15 years, Positively Cable, put on by Cable Positive's Denver chapter, has raised more than $1.5 million for local HIV AIDS charities.

The Cable Center Hall of Fame induction Tuesday night drew a solid 590 people. Showtime CEO Matt Blank, one of the seven new members, delivered a Lettermanesque acceptance speech at the awards dinner, ably emceed by CNN/HLN entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson.

After Insight CEO Michael Willner, who's also chairman of The Cable Center, called him “the funniest man in cable” in Blank's video highlight reel, Blank cited his “Top 10 Reasons I Agreed to Be Inducted Into the Hall of Fame.”

10. “I was coming to Denver anyhow to call on TCI.”

9. “Content is king again — thank you, Brian Roberts.”

8. “Didn't want to miss the Hulu after-party (see previous reason).”

7. “The Cable Center said I could host a Weeds after-party at next year's Hall of Fame.”

6. “There hasn't been a Jew inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame since Bob Johnson.” (“Risky, risky,” Blank added about the joke.)

5. “Already traded a year of CBS retrans with Willner.”

4. “The chance to Twitter from Cable-Tec Expo tomorrow.”

3. “I wanted to do this before the NCTA moved The Cable Center to Detroit to save money.”

2. “I was accidentally trapped on a homemade weather balloon.”

The No. 1 reason was the sincere one: “Frankly, because outside of my family, everything great that has happened to me is because of this industry.”

The Walter Kaitz Foundation's annual dinner was Wednesday night, well into the snowstorm. It could have been hit hard, but it appeared only a few tables were unoccupied: More than 700 people were there, close to expectations expressed a week earlier by foundation executive director David Porter.

The Kaitz dinner laudably raised more than $1 million for programs promoting diversity in the cable industry. Comcast and Turner Broadcasting System were honored with the Diversity Champion Award, and CNN Newsroom anchor T.J. Holmes was a witty emcee.

“While the weather outside was frosty, the dinner was a warm gathering that celebrated the industry's strides for greater inclusion,” Porter said in a statement after the event. “Thank you to the dinner's sponsors and everyone who helped make it a success.”

Funds generated back the Emma L. Bowen Foundation, the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and Women in Cable Telecommunications programs.

The Association of Cable Communicators had about 225 people at its annual forum and had Doug Williams, host of Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-up on Starz, was the emcee who told several jokes The Wire could not reprint without FCC intervention. ACC president Jim Maiella zinged him at the end, though, saying, “You know, Doug, Carrot Top passed on this.”

The NAMIC Conference again delivered strong content, including a keynote by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who said, reassuringly, that “trust in information is becoming even more important over time, and there will be a shift back to trusted institutions and media.”

The conference was expecting about 400 attendees.

CableLabs and WICT (which held a technology-related breakfast panel session Wednesday) also held events.

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers put their attendance figure at 9,000 — a strong turnout, though some 18% off last year's record gathering in Philadelphia. A crowd of several hundred Expo goers had gathered at the show floor's entrance prior to its 2 p.m. opening on Wednesday.

Traffic to the booths was steady, even up to the closing hours on Wednesday (6 p.m.) and Thursday (5 p.m.), when security guards had to flick the lights off to shoo folks out of Hall E of the Denver Convention Center.

Even the early-morning sessions were packed. An 8 a.m. panel Thursday delivered by Comcast's Steve Reynolds and Kevin Taylor about the MSO's digital transport adapter (DTA) project was attended by several dozen souls who had slogged their way through the snowy, gray dawn.

The next big scheduled get-together is in May, in Los Angeles, anchored by the Cable Show.