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2008 CABLE SHOW: Bright House Ready To Target Broadcast-Only Homes

NEW ORLEANS—Bright House Networks will try to lure broadcast-only homes to cable by aggressively marketing a package that consists of local TV signals, high-speed Internet access and digital phone service, the company's top official said Tuesday.

The idea is aimed at broadcast-only homes looking to prepare for TV stations' transition to all-digital broadcasting in early 2009, said Bob Miron, chairman and CEO of Advance/Newhouse Communications, owner of cable operator Bright House Networks.

“We'll come out with different packages that make that attractive. I think it does represent a great opportunity for us. At least our company will aggressively go after that,” Miron said.

Miron's comments came during a luncheon discussion at NCTA's The Cable Show '08 on broadcasters' transition to digital television set to occur on February 17, 2009. Analog TV sets not connected to cable, satellite TV or a digital-to-analog converter box won't display digital TV signals after the transition.

National Association of Broadcasters President David Rehr,  joining Miron on the panel, said U.S. consumers have 68 million analog TV sets that will go dark unless their owners take action.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow said millions of those broadcast-only analog sets were located in cable homes.

"Even in cable households, we have people with second and third TV sets—to some extent they are hybrids, they are over-the-air households as well as cable," McSlarrow said.

Miron's strategy is aimed at converting broadcast-only homes that might be nervous about the DTV transition into paying cable customers, featuring a scaled back video offering he called Lifeline.

"Lifeline is essentially a service that we sell somewhere between $10, $12, $13 a month that consists of the broadcast signals [and] occasionally one or two others," Miron said. "We will attempt to attract people to that line of service by packaging it with maybe high-speed data and phone at a reduced price."

Jack Sander—NAB’s joint board chairman and a senior adviser to Belo Corp.—described Miron's approach as "a wonderfully good alternative" for consumers that need to ready their TVs for the analog cutoff.

 For more news from NCTA's The Cable Show '08, click here.