With INTX, NCTA Plays Name Game

Cable networks are rebranding channels; cable ops are rebranding broadband. What took the NCTA so long?

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association last week said its next annual convention (in Chicago, May 5- 7, 2015) will be renamed INTX: The Internet and Television Expo. Over the years (it started in 1950), it’s been called the National Show and, more recently, The Cable Show.

Now the group wants to draw Internet-video content producers and distributors and other companies and entrepreneurs not considered endemic to the cable industry.

Informally, industry executives attending Diversity Week events in New York last week seemed pleased with the plan to reformat the threeday convention. The NCTA said it would be announcing program changes closer to the Chicago convention that many in the industry felt were long overdue.

But the move had the feel of a halfway measure, as NCTA president Michael Powell is known to favor moving the association — which represents cable distributors, programmers and a variety of technology and other vendors — beyond the “cable” label. (In 2000, after 40 years, the group added “and telecommunications” to its name.)

NCTA previously applied to trademark NCTA: The Internet & Television Association. Officials said there were no current plans to change the association name.

The National Association of Broadcasters, despite its historic rhetoric about wanting to be part of the broadband future via all its stations websites or by offloading wireless broadband traffic, did not weigh in on network neutrality, deciding to remain neutral, which means in the same place.

Powell has talked about the need to take down the artificial regulatory silos. Cable is a rhetorical silo that now demands a string of “ands” — “phone” and “Internet” and “wireless” — be appended to provide a full picture of the industry, an industry whose “ands” are not yet exhausted.

Several programmers gave themselves new names last week. The biggest of them (a network with 83 million subscribers) was the former TVGN, or TV Guide Network, which said it would rename itself Pop as of early in 2015.

Brad Schwartz, the channel’s entertainment and media president, said the new name was meant to signify the “pop” of an exceptional performer, and that the focus would be on “celebrat[ing] the fun of being a fan.” New shows already planned, such as Rock This Boat: New Kids on the Block, about fans of the boy band who go on music cruises, and The Story Behind, about the birth of iconic TV franchises like ER or Friends, were taking that tack already, he said.

Other name changes slated last week included Veria Living, a wellness-based network, becoming Z Living (aligning with its affiliated programmer Zee Entertainment), and Shalom TV, converting to the Jewish Broadcasting Service on the eve of Rosh Hashanah.