Laybourne: Industry Has Amnesia

Geraldine Laybourne said that when she and her partners started the women-targeted Oxygen cable network in 1998, they joked that it could be the last independent cable network to get wide distribution. Sadly, that may turn out to be true, she told a Washington audience Wednesday night.

Laybourne, in town to receive the Horizon Award (for visionary leadership) from industry-funded First Amendment think tank, The Media Institute, said the cable industry had lost its way. She argued it has "developed amnesia," forgetting that independent content helped create the business. She said it was wrong to think that leverage is the only way to build on that success.

She also got in a knock on a la carte, but said "that was for another speech."

There has been a move in Washington to promote a la carte cable offerings as a governor on pricing and a parental control device for indecency that would give viewers more control of their channel lineups.

Programmers argue that it could be the death knell for niche channels and could actually increase cable bills, not lower them.

P.S. Showing true loyalty both to the cable industry and the Red Sox, was Bostonian and President of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association Robert Sachs. Sachs attended the dinner in tux and ball cap, complete with instructions to the concierge at the Four Seasons hotel to keep him apprised of the score of the fourth, and it turned out final, game of the World Series.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.