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‘Tony Soprano’ Is a Hit, Man, at Senate ID Office

8/09/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

HBO has joined NBC in
helping the Senate ID Office get
its message across to Capitol Hill
reporters.

Scribes making annual pilgrimages
to renew their press
passes have for several years
now been greeted by framed examples
of ID cards, all with the
same fake name: Cosmo Kramer
(the Michael Richards character
in Seinfeld).

Those examples remained on
display even after Richards’ famous
racist rant.

But on a recent trip to the ID office, another TV reference had appeared.

Posted in front of the bins holding
the neck chains, covers and
clips for the photo-ID cards was
a sign bearing a picture of The Sopranos
Tony Soprano (portrayed
by James Gandolfini).

He has a penetrating sideways
glance that seems to say: “Don’t
cross me.”

What the sign actually says,
though, is: “Only one cover and lanyard
please. Tony is watching …”

Given the partisan rancor on
the Hill over everything from
campaign finance to healthcare
to off shore drillling to financial
services legislation, maybe the
Senate aides should have used an
image from Mad Men, Matthew
Weiner’s current cable hit.

Footnote: Lanyards for the
press passes still have “What’s
your SPIN?” imprinted on them.
That initially seemed a pejorative
knock on journalists. But it’s actually
a reminder to staffers to use
their Senate PIN numbers, which
are being swapped in for Social
Security numbers to reduce the
risk of identity theft.

Campus TV CEO:
‘2 Screens’ Still
Cool In School

Two weeks ago, The Wire reported learning
that Campus TeleVideo’s long-term private-
equity owners would entertain offers
to sell the company. Since then, the collegecampus
TV provider has put out a couple of
press releases — but not about a sale. One
was about adding high-definition services
in league with Comcast Media Center. The
other was about an acquisition, of data services
provider X-Wires Broadband.

Brian Benz, CEO of the company
founded by Connecticut gubernatorial
candidate Ned Lamont, said, “There isn’t a
book out” on the company and he hasn’t
been in any meetings with would-be buyers.
In fact, he said, he’s been looking for
broadband acquisitions, but not much has
been available.

He said, though, that he didn’t speak for the
equity owners, who have held stakes in CTV for
a long time (since 1998 and 2001, respectively).

One investor who looked at CTV told The
Wire demographic shifts make TV service
less important on campus these days. Fewer
students are bringing TV sets to the dorm.

Benz said TV is still very much in demand
on campus. Anecdotal and real evidence
says students like the two-screen concept:
doing homework, Web surfing and messaging
on their laptops while running the TV in
the background.

If anything, flat-screen TVs have become
a fixture in dorms, he said, which is why
CTV wants to expand into high-definition
programming. “You’d be surprised how
big some of those screens are that kids are
bringing to school these days,” the eightyear
veteran of CTV said.

Colleges also want to better manage data
traffic in the dorms, for various reasons, including
copyright protection, hence the XWires
buy.

10-to-Noon Means
Noon Isn’t Late,
MSO Tells Subs

Suddenlink Communications’ keen interest
in how its customers feel about their
service (see page 10) has led the cable
operator to change the way it explains appointment
windows.

According to the company, internal Satmetrix
surveys showed that some customers
were interpreting a 10 a.m-to-noon window
for the arrival of a technician to mean
that the technician would be finished with
the job by noon. That meant some lower
satisfaction ratings resulted when the tech
merely arrived by the deadline.

Suddenlink has changed its customerservice
scripting to make it clear that the technician
might show up as late as noon and
would need time to complete the job. That has
helped to better align customer expectations
with their actual experience, Suddenlink said.

‘Undercover’ Work:
DirecTV Chief Meets
His Peeps —for CBS

The Wire was intrigued by DirecTV CEO
Michael White even before reading Mike
Farrell’s July 26 Q&A (“White Knight,” page
8). After all, White was known to have impressed
John Malone by learning Russian
ahead of Pepsi’s entry into that market.

We were even more impressed last week
when we learned that White is among the
first four executives to be featured in the
second season of hit reality series Undercover
Boss
(no specific air date yet). That
show debuted memorably after the Super
Bowl, following the chief operating officer
of Waste Management.

The other execs in season two are from
NASCAR, Chiquita Brands and Great Wolf
Resorts
. White’s appearance could be the
most entertaining, especially if they send
him up on a roof to adjust an antenna.

It make us wonder, in hindsight, if it was
CBS’s idea for White, as Farrell described, to
have “spent the last seven months immersing
himself in the business by sitting in on
customer installations, pulling shifts at call
centers and hobnobbing with DirecTV’s
technology staff .” Either way, it’s good management
practice — and good TV.

 

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