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Lamb: No C-SPAN in 10 Years?

Washington -- Citing the changing media landscape and the uncertainty of his network’s carriage, C-SPAN founder and CEO Brian Lamb said Tuesday that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if his public-affairs network wasn’t around in a decade.

Lamb made his remarks while offering his perspective on the cable industry during the American Cable Association’s 14th Annual Washington Summit here, which attracted a record 300 attendees this year.

Talking about the Internet’s impact and how younger people don’t even watch the evening news anymore, Lamb theorized about what might happen to his network.

“We’re 28 years old, and I wouldn’t be surprised if 10 years from now, there is no C-SPAN, just because there is no Look magazine, there is no Collier’s magazine, there is no Saturday Evening Post,”Lamb said. “There is no Edsel automobile: That’s a bad comparison. None of us is here forever and, as this whole technology thing changes, people’s habits change.”

When Lamb was asked about the comment later on, he elaborated on it.

“I actually don’t think there’s any chance of us not being around in 10 years,” he said. “All I said was that I wouldn’t be surprised because it’s amazing what goes away. And we are not making money for anybody … We’ve already seen it. A lot of cable operators, if they have a problem, the first one they go for is C-SPAN. They say, ‘We can get away with dropping it or cutting it to part -time.’”

So Lamb said he was stating something “that was possible, highly unlikely, but given the nature of what moves and shakes everybody, it just could happen.”

Lamb, addressing independent cable operators that are set to meet with lawmakers and the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday, offered his own tips on lobbying and the insider mindset in Washington.

Lamb advised small cable companies to make good on any plans they discuss here, unlike large cable companies in the past that didn’t live up to their promises on the Hill.

“Some of the people who did us the most harm inside our industry -- who at the moment are no longer in our industry -- caused a great deal of pain to this day,” he added. “Trust is not a word a lot of people use because of a couple of companies in this business on Capitol Hill after they did their thing, like it or not.”

He added that this cable company in 1982 “overnight” dropped C-SPAN from 400 systems.

Lamb didn’t name the cable company onstage -- saying, “Figure it out” -- and he declined to identify it afterward. But the company he was referring to is believed to be Tele-Communications Inc.

During the session, which was moderated by CableFAX columnist Paul Maxwell, Lamb advised small operators to speak “from your heart” when they meet with lawmakers, and not to assume the worse about those legislators.

”They can pick up very quickly whether you’re the genuine article or not,” he added. “When you don’t live up to your promise, you’re curtains.”

And while Lamb stressed that there is a lot of lobbying money flowing in Washington from major corporations, he added that lawmakers “don’t always go with the side with the most money.”