Through The Wire: NCTA: No Booze in Hotlanta

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Who were those louts at the Western Show who messed thingsup for everybody else, anyway? As a result of complaints about rowdy behavior atDecember's Western Show stemming from too much drinking at certain booths servingbooze, the NCTA has laid down guidelines for serving alcohol on the show floor at theupcoming National Show in Atlanta: no hard liquor allowed, but beer and wine are OK after4 p.m. The sad thing is that it's the first time that the organization has had tomake any rules on the subject. "It hasn't been an issue before," anofficial said.

Some music artists just can't get enough ofpay-per-view. Last year, the Rolling Stones returned to the PPV scene, andnow,Phil Collins will make his second appearance for operators in June. TVKO willdistribute Collins' taped concert from Paris June 20 to a much larger PPV audiencethan the 13 million addressable homes passed for the rock star's 1990 concert.Hopefully, Collins can also pull more than the 41,000 buys that he generated back then.

Programmers attending the CTAM Digital/PPV conference inLos Angeles two weeks ago were miffed at not being invited to the conference'sevening shindigs. While all attendees are allowed to attend any CTAM-sanctioned event,both Buena Vista Television's March 18 Pointer Sisters show at the House of Blues andthe Universal Studios' party hosted by several studios the next evening wereconsidered "private" events and, therefore, only open to operators and the press.With about 40 percent of the nearly 900 attendees affiliated with programming companies,neither of the events was filled to capacity. Sources close to CTAM said the organizationwill look for ways to avoid such occurrences during future conferences.

After that "summer of love," it's not easybeing in the middle of an eternity of hate, executives with Tele-Communications Inc. arelearning. By deciding to use set-top software made by rivals Sun Microsystems andMicrosoft Corp., the MSO is in the part line of an ongoing verbal noogie battle betweenSun's and Microsoft's top dogs, Scott McNealy and Bill Gates. "The moretime you spend with software companies like Microsoft and Sun, the more you like thehardware business," said the executive, who declined to be identified for fear of acream pie in the face.

Move over, Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch: There'sanother cable-executive battle brewing. Buford Television president Ben Hooks and ThompsonAssociates broker Pat Thompson surprised NCTA small-cable-association board membersrecently by announcing a $1,000 personal bet between them. The wager calls for Hooks tolose 25 pounds, while Thompson has to quit smoking for one year. The proceeds will gotoward a dinner party to "roast" the loser.

During TCI's three-day infofest for bankers last week,Wall Street investors and the press were inundated with multimedia presentations from allcorners of the cable giant's media empire. Corporate stories like that can take awhile to tell. And the opportunity for extended face time with chairman and CEO JohnMalone was welcomed by most, if not all. But three full days -- which included a day ofpresentations at CableLabs -- is a lot to organize, and it can leave participantsfeeling a bit overwhelmed. TCI investor-relations chief Linda Dill said she and other MSOofficials planned to evaluate whether next year's shindig should be quite sogrueling, or whether it could be condensed to a day-and-a-half, or even a day. One WallStreeter said TCI has indirectly committed to reconvening next year, though, by promisingthat there would be much more to say about Internet-protocol telephony then.

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