Through The Wire: Shucks, When Do I Meet Mr. Filibuster?

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America Online Inc. chairmanand CEO Steve Case is considered one of the kings of the Internet because he managed tofend off Bill Gates from the outside (The Microsoft Network) and Paul Allen from theinside (Allen once had a big chunk of AOL stock). Now, Case is taking on the cableestablishment. But last week, appearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, Case decidedto audition his "I'm-totally-naïve-about-politics" routine, probablyhoping that people would forget that he's hiring expensive lobbyists andpublic-relations firms to wage a lobbying war against the cable industry's Internetstrategy. Case began his testimony by saying, "This is the first time thatI've had an opportunity to appear before Congress … I just ask that you begentle."

Ever wanted to co-host a game telecast on a regional sportsnetwork? All you have to do is make a very generous donation to a Madison Square Gardencharity drive going on through April. MSG has set up various levels offinancial donations to the "Cheering for Children Foundation" in return forseveral cool activities with MSG Network celebrities. A $20,000 donation brings a shot atco-hosting a live game telecast, while a $500 donation grants a videotaped discussionwith SportsDesk host Marv Albert. A $750 donation nets a one-on-one basketballgame with former New York Knicks great Walt "Clyde" Frazier. For the lesscharitable, $75 gets you a New York subway tour with MSGN hockey analyst Stan Fischler.

Bad news for those who held out hope that the WesternShow would leave Anaheim in its rear-view mirror forever. Delightful as theaccommodations at San Diego would have been, the facilities are simply too small forthe big cable convention, so the show-planning committee officially ruled it out lastweek, a source said. So it's Los Angeles this year and Anaheim in 2000.

Don Janke, president ofInternet Ventures Inc., couldn't resist a smile last week as he stoodoutside of the Senate Commerce Committee chambers where hearings were held on the Internetopen-access issue that has been dogging cable, and where industry executives weredelivering impassioned warnings against any move to unbundle their broadband networks.Janke's company wants to offer Internet services over AT&T Broadband'snetwork in Spokane, Wash. -- a request that the MSO rejected on the grounds thatfederal leased-access rules only apply to video programmers. But while waiting outsideof the hearings, he spied a sign that had been hung on the door in anticipation of anoverflow crowd. In one of life's little ironies, it seems that anyone unable toattend the hearing would be able to watch it on the committee's Web site, which wasbeing streamed live over the Internet. "If that doesn't prove what we'vebeen saying, I don't know what does," Janke said.

Diamond Demon:One of the myths surrounding DeckerAnstrom's frequent attendance at Baltimore Orioles games during his years as National Cable Television Association president isthat he's a big Birds fan. Now that he's preparing to become president andCEO of The Weather Channel, the truth can be told."My two favorite teams are the Detroit Tigers in the A.L. and the Atlanta Braves inthe N.L.," he said last Thursday. He said he's rooted for the Braves since 1988,soon after becoming NCTA president, in order to "pull for 'cable'steam.'" Pausing, he added, "Given the way that the Tigers are playing, Iguess I'll never have to choose [between those favorites] in a World Series."Meanwhile, Anstrom flew into Atlanta last Thursday morning, but he was late for meetingswith TWC chairman John "Dubby" Wynne and others due to bad weather. A TWCspokeswoman observed, "The irony of it all!"


By R. Thomas Umstead, from bureau reports.

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