Through The Wire: And Now ... Heeeeeeres Rich


CTAM Party Poop: All eyes will be on the well-named HangUppe Club in Chicago Tuesday night to see if Rich Cronin, as expected, will stage hisindustry coming-out party as the new president and CEO of Fox Family Channel, duringCTAM's Blowout Partytowind down the marketing conference. The Wire,going out on a limb, predicts that those looking for Cronin at the Nickelodeon/TV Landparty Sunday night at the Navy Pier will be disappointed ... Attention, Ally McBealfans: chanteuse Vonda Shepard will perform at Lifetime Movie Network's party at theHouse of Blues Monday night.

The July issue of Consumer Reports devoted six fullpages to DBS dishes, ultimately rating Digital Satellite System models from Sony and RCAas "excellent," compared with the "very goods" for PrimeStar Inc. andEchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network. But the ultimate winner is probablycable. The "satellite-test report" spent at least as much time promotingcable as DBS. The magazine said that while DBS holds appeal for devoted movie, sports andmusic fans, the better choice for other consumers is probably still cable -- "wartsand all."

Despite rumblings and grumbling, Lloyd Covens said therewill definitely be a Sixth Annual DBS Summit next year, somewhere in the Denver area,despite an attendance drop of 15 percent this year, to 412 people. While empty seatsset tongues wagging in the satellite world, Covens maintains that the real problem wasthe large size of the rooms and the fact that there were too many sessions. Next year, theconfab will be more compact, he promises. "I don't see anything out there toreplace what we do," said Covens, GM of the show and publisher of DBS Digest.

Some Western Show exhibitors weren't thrilled whenthey were asked to fly to Dallas last week and given exactly one minute to finalizetheir booth assignments for December's show at the Anaheim Convention Center,which is under expansion and which has a new floor plan. Some exhibitors opted not tospend the plane fare and the day of travel time for a 60-second appointment. But C.J.Hirschfield, VP of industry affairs at the California Cable TV Association, defended theone-minute time limit, saying that exhibitors were familiar with the new floor plan whenthey arrived, and that they already had dibs on space. "People weren't coming inblind," she said, adding that most exhibitors left "with a better understandingof the reconstruction process on their individual booth selection." She stressed thatexhibitors would get show spaces even if they didn't attend the Dallas meetings.

While most legislators decry the rising cost of cable, onePennsylvania legislator is threatening to introduce a law that will raise cable rates forone select group. State Sen. John Lawless is furious that prison inmates get to payless for cable than average residents. Last week, the legislator produced data from astudy that indicated that the basic cost per inmate (paid by the inmate) is $6 to $10.25per month, while the average rate for the rest of citizenry is $13.40 to $25.78. Itwasn't a real apples-to-apples comparison -- the prisoners have the advantage ofbulk-rate pricing, while some of the consumer figures were for full-price basic. ButLawless said felons shouldn't get price breaks, and he vows to introduce legislationin the fall to end prison bulk rates.

By Charles Paikert, from bureau reports.