News Articles

IN BRIEF

5/06/2001 08:00:00 PM Eastern

NCTA attendance down, staff up

Attendance at the national cable convention in Chicago next month is expected to be down by about 15%, says Robert Sachs, president of the newly renamed National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Sachs attributes the downturn—from 32,00-plus last year to an anticipated 30,000—to a sluggish economy, the dotcom slide and attrition at several major technology companies, including Lucent, Nortel and Cisco. That said, programming attendance hasn't dropped off, he says, adding: "The program networks continue to make this their priority venue."

DBS hammers home its Northpoint

The satellite industry took the results of independently performed interference tests (B&C, April 30) to Capitol Hill last week, sending a letter to every lawmaker.

"Make no mistake," wrote SBCA President Charles Hewitt, DirecTV Global Chairman Eddy Hartenstein and EchoStar Communications Chairman Charlie Ergen. "Despite what you may be hearing from Northpoint, the results of this independent test are devastating to its case for terrestrial sharing of the DBS band. … There should be no more disputes as to whether or not interference from Northpoint poses a major problem for many of the 40 million DBS viewers," the satellite industry executives wrote, "It does. Period."

Northpoint disagrees. "The DBS industry has severely misrepresented the report's contents and conclusions," company executives told members of Congress last week.

FCC picks go to Senate

The White House last week sent the Senate its nominations for three FCC vacancies. The Senate Commerce Committee could hold a confirmation hearing for Mike Copps, Kathleen Abernathy and Kevin Martin as early as May 17, said a committee spokeswoman.

Unclear is whether the Senate will receive FCC Chairman Michael Powell's nomination to a second five-year term in time for him to be a part of that hearing.

Finance reform returns

The debate over campaign finance reform started up in the House of Representatives last week, with the House Administration Committee holding a hearing on a bill sponsored by Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Marty Meehan (D-Mass.).

That bill has passed the House twice in previous sessions but has never made any headway in the Senate. Shays-Meehan prohibits political parties from soliciting soft, or unregulated, money from corporate donors but so far contains nothing to which broadcasters might object, such as free- or reduced-rate–airtime requirements.

 

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