Flogging a gift horse

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AIDS charity Cable Positive has been contemplating whether or not to accept a
$25,000 grant from the T. Howard Foundation, an industry nonprofit group that
promotes diversity.

Why the hesitation? Cable Positive is considered a cable-industry group and
the T. Howard Foundation was started by the satellite crowd -- it was named after
late direct-broadcast satellite pioneer Taylor Howard.

The cable and DBS crowds don't mix well, so some of Cable Positive's board
members are objecting.

But Cable Positive's hard-charging fund-raiser, president Steve Villano, is
fighting for the money, emphasizing that 90 percent of T. Howard's money comes
not from the DBS companies, but from programming networks carried by both MSOs
and the likes of DirecTV Inc.

In addition, the foundation is now run by Curtis Symonds, a former Black
Entertainment Television executive who spent years with the cable crowd.

With a $2 million budget to promote AIDS awareness and make grants to
strapped AIDS victims in the cable industry, "Villano is not letting $25,000 slip
away without a fight," one board member said.

Vilano agreed, saying, "The issue of HIV and AIDS transcends all differences."

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