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‘Dear Laura Martin: Capitalism Isn’t Dead, Love, Sean Hannity’

8/02/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

Laura Martin got a gift
during her panel appearance at
the Independent Show in Baltimore
last Tuesday. It was a copy
of Sean Hannity’s book, Conservative
Victory
, with a signed message
from the author to the media
analyst: “Dear Laura, Capitalism
Isn’t Dead. Love, Sean.”

That’s what Corey McCarthy,
chief financial officer of the National
Cable Television Cooperative,
said in presenting it. The
reference was to comments the
Needham & Co. analyst made in
February 2009 at an NCTC event,
when she remarked that “capitalism
didn’t work” in terms of resetting
the economy.

Anyway, Martin, who tends to
go for bold statements, said she
got a lot of complaints after those
remarks about capitalism, and
had something else to say now.

‘VIDEO IS DEAD’

“What’s dead this year is video,”
she said. “It’s a very sad thing.
The programmers are destroying
the video business.”

Consumers are gravitating to
Internet and mobile applications,
she said, so operators should focus
on mobile services, commercial
services (because business
customers pay higher margins)
and modems.

“Take the cash flow, if there is any
after the programmers get done
with you, and what you need to do
is protect the future,” she said.

Martin was bullish on the underlying
business (as was copanelist
David Joyce of Miller
Tabak & Co.). She said if cable
doesn’t get hit by damaging regulation
from Washington, such as
broadband being labeled a common-
carrier service, then cablesale
multiples should rise to 11 or
12 times annual cash flow in the
next five years. Now cable systems
privately sell for about 8 times
cash flow.

“I think the industry has to go
to war over Title II,” Martin said.
Hannity and his book were on
the scene because the Fox News
Channel host was the lunchtime
speaker Tuesday. “How many
of you are hung over from last
night?” he began. “That’s George
Bush’s fault.”

He said he loved the NCTC’s
entrepreneurial story (a cooperative
started on a countertop
in Lawrence, Kan.) and said “I
think America can do better. I
think your business can survive
in a better atmosphere.” If government
limited bureaucracy
and regulation and cut taxes and
stimulated the economy, he said,
“if more people have more money
in their pockets, that means more
people will be able to buy cable
and watch the Fox News Channel
and watch me and our viewership
will grow.”

Getting viewership to grow
was the theme at other panels
Tuesday afternoon, focused on
“TV Everywhere,” or the movement
among big cable and satellite
operators to let consumers get
access to programming online if
they are also paying for it in their
multichannel subscriptions.

Michael Quigley, Turner Broadcasting
System’s vice president of
business development and multiplatform
distribution, talked about
the new TV Everywhere service it
launched for Verizon FiOS TV customers.

He said a big part of Turner’s
TVE talks with distributors
are how to make hit shows like
TNT’s The Closer or Rizzoli & Isles
available the next day on the TV
video-on-demand platform. That
gives consumers more options for
watching what they want on their
high-definition TV sets.

Turner also is working with
distributors, he explained to the
independent operators, to make
shows quickly available to their
online portals and Turner’s, in
high-quality format. “We’re focusing
on how to make a true HD
experience on the online side.”

To help the operators understand
the difference between TV
Everywhere and “over-the-top”
video providers, Avail-TVN chief
technology officer Michael Kazmier
said to think of TV Everywhere
as “under the bottom”
— an effort to keep subscribers
by offering them more options,
rather than losing them to overthe-
top rivals.

“Hopefully that catches on and
I can say in 15 or 20 years, ‘You
know that under-the-bottom
thing? That was me,’ ” he said.

Quigley and others speaking on
TV Everywhere panels predicted
authenticated services of that kind
will be widespread by the end of
2011 — and that operators will need
to offer them to be competitive with
their multichannel
rivals.

SIZE DISCRIMINATION

On Monday, as the conference
kicked off , American Cable Association
chairman Steve Friedman
called for an end to discrimination
against smaller operators.
Friedman said whether the issue
is network neutrality, retransmission-
consent reform, broadband
reclassification or the Comcast-
NBCU merger, the problem boils
down to big versus small. “Our
members — and your customers
— routinely pay a disproportionate
amount in the cost and
impact of regulation and in the
direct cost of broadcast and cable
programming. And it’s just because
we are smaller.”

The Independent Show combines
the ACA and the NCTC, a
collective programming buying
consortium.

Sometimes capitalism needs
a little encouragement to work
right.

‘Rubicon’ Producer
Crosses Over Into
AMC Conspiracy

There’s a conspiracy going on at AMC — to
get Rubicon renewed, fast.

Its leader is Henry Bromell, the executive
producer, who hinted at the cabal during a
panel discussion in New York last Wednesday,
ahead of the spy drama’s Sunday-night
premiere.

Addressing himself to Joel Stillerman,
AMC’s head of original programming,
Bromell at one point discussed the story
arc as occurring over “six great years of
television.”

At another point, asked by an audience
member if the show addresses domestic
spying, Bromell said “it does a little bit this
season and in the future … Joel?”

Pretty clear who Bromell wants to conspire
with.

Bromell shared the dais with three intelligence
experts: former U.S. senator
Bob Kerrey, former counter-terrorism
agent (and current NBC analyst) Michael
Sheehan
and former CIA operations
chief Jack Devine.

It was a relief to hear the experts say that
a conspiracy inside the U.S. government
would fail because of Congressional oversight,
the adversarial political system and
the aggressive press. The real threat, Sheehan
said, is from “conspiracies against us”
from outside.

“We are a target,” Kerrey conceded. “We
are target No. 1.”

Season No. 1 of Rubicon unofficially
began with sneak peeks on AMC and the
first hour is on amc.tv.

September