CTAM: Forget the hard sell

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Tech company briefings but no sales pitches? Hard to believe, but that's one of the major elements of this year's CTAM Summit.

Pursuing its goal of educating cable marketing executives about pushing products created by new technology, this week's annual convention of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing will feature the usual slate of briefings by high-tech companies.

But CTAM officials are striving this year to keep the tech executives in their new-product road show focused, pushing them to concentrate on the precise proposition to the consumer that operators will have to sell.

Attendance is expected to exceed last year's 2,600.

CTAM President Char Beales wants her members to leave less confused than when they arrive. "They have to be specific on the things we want answered; they can't just talk about the technology," said Beales, who insisted that companies making presentations submit scripts and slides for approval.

Participants include interactive TV programmer ACTV, set-top software company, OpenTV and in-home networking developer ShareWave, plus other electronic commerce, video-on-demand and subscriber-management companies.

Other highlights of the Boston conference are general session appearances by such top executives as Bob Pittman, the former MTV executive who is now president of America Online, which is trying to acquire Time Warner. When the merger is done, Pittman will be the co-COO in charge of overseas subscriptions, advertising and commerce businesses. He is expected to discuss the AOL Anywhere campaign to put the sercixe in front of consumers' eyes whatever device they happen to be using.

Also speaking will be Cox Communications Chairman James Robbins and AT & T Broadband Chairman Dan Somers, who are expected to focus on their companies' status pushing new digital, Internet and telephone products.

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