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CTAM: Consumers Shrug Off Cable Theft

Cable-television theft is still not taken seriously by
consumers, and it won't be until the industry tackles the problem directly, the Cable
and Telecommunications Association for Marketing told its members last week in its latest
"Pulse" research study.

In a survey of 706 randomly chosen consumers conducted late
last month, 78 percent acknowledged that cable theft was a crime and 59 percent said they
believed cable customers pay more for their service as a result of that theft.

But 36 percent admitted that they don't care about
cable theft. The numbers were higher -- 47 percent -- among consumers who didn't
subscribe to cable- or satellite-television services.

Younger consumers and minority groups were least likely to
express concern over cable-TV theft or to view it as a crime.

Passive cable theft was also less likely to be seen as
criminal activity. Only 50 percent of those surveyed believed that a consumer moving into
a new home who receives free cable by connecting TVs to existing cable wires should be
penalized -- although 82 percent said such consumers should contact their local cable

The CTAM survey indicated that consumers believe it is up
to cable providers -- and not the government -- to help combat cable theft.

Recommendations included lowering the cost of cable,
developing better technology to prevent cable theft, monitoring cable theft more closely
and enforcing harsher penalties.

As a result of the attitudes found through the study, CTAM
recommended that cable operators create more aggressive awareness campaigns that let
consumers know cable theft brings financial consequences for everyone.

In other news from CTAM, the April issue of Pulse profiled
a study on TV portals, which explored the opportunities operators have in exploiting the
first screen a customer sees when turning on the television.

According to telephone research from 823 cable customers
conducted early last month, consumers watch an average of 18 hours of TV during the
typical week, and they turn the television on twice a day.

If offered the ability to control what consumers see when
they turn on their televisions, 76 percent of consumers surveyed would take it.

About one-third would like their favorite channels to
appear first. Others would prefer screens to display local community information, national
news headlines, sports scores, stock quotes or television-programming previews.

Consumers most likely to take advantage of
personalized-TV-screen options were premium subscribers who already have converter boxes
that offer such options. Younger cable customers and those with children at home were also
more likely to desire that choice.

Fewer than one-third of cable customers surveyed said they
knew what an on-screen interactive program guide was. Those who did were more likely to
subscribe to satellite-television and online services.

CTAM recommended that cable operators take advantage of
their subscribers' tendency to turn on the TV at least twice a day to send messages
to their customers.

Operators should also educate their customers, CTAM said,
so they know how to use all of the features of an interactive program guide.