All-Female Panel at Western Show

Anaheim, Calif. -- The last Western Show broke some new ground, staging an all-female executive panel.

Participants said women have always had good opportunities in cable, in part because during the industry’s formative days, "No one wanted our jobs," Oxygen Media chairman and CEO Geraldine Laybourne said.

"They laughed at us," former Nickelodeon chief Laybourne said. "Now, cable is holding up half the sky."

After musing about the role of women, the executives discussed the same issues that excite and dismay their male counterparts, such as successfully leveraging the $76 billion in infrastructure the industry has made in its plant over the last few years.

Among the highlights:

• Charter Communications Inc. executive vice president and chief operating officer Maggie Bellville was enthused over the potential of the Diego Inc. interactive set-top.

• Nomi Bergman, executive VP of strategy and development for Advance/Newhouse Communications, thinks a robust user interface is key to making video-on-demand a bigger business.

• E! Entertainment Television CEO Mindy Herman said the brilliance of News Corp. is its predictability. Therefore, domestic operators can take their cue from the strategy deployed by its U.K. direct-broadcast satellite operation, British Sky Broadcasting Group plc.

That service gave away digital boxes to get penetration. It caused short-term losses, but the strategy worked over the long term, she said, adding, "We may have to do free [DVR] boxes to get market share."