Through the Wire

Aaron’s Niece Keeps an Eye on Bonds

One Atlanta-based cable executive was monitoring the home-run count of San Francisco Giant slugger Barry Bonds last week with more interest than most people.

Wonya Lucas, executive vice president and general manager of The Weather Channel, is well aware that when Bonds hits his 756th home run, he’ll eclipse the lifetime home run mark her uncle, Henry Aaron, has held for 33 years.

Lucas said Aaron was initially resigned to having the mark passed, as records were made to be broken. Aaron surpassed Babe Ruth’s lifetime mark on April 8, 1974, slugging home run No. 715 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

But Hammerin’ Hank’s feelings changed after allegations of steroid abuse by Bonds became public, Lucas said last week in Washington, D.C., where she co-chaired the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing’s annual Summit.

Aaron has said he won’t be in attendance when Bonds hits the historic homer.

Bonds ended a home series against the Atlanta Braves last Thursday, stuck on 753 homers. So at least he didn’t break the record against the club that employed Aaron and Wonya Lucas’s dad, the late Bill Lucas.

Inducted into the Braves’ Hall of Fame last year, Bill Lucas was named the team’s de facto general manager in 1976, the first African-American to hold such a position in the major leagues. Lucas, Aaron’s brother in law, died in 1979 after a stroke, at age 43.

Words Summiteers Dread: 'CTAM Corporate Fund’

It cost $1,050 to attend the CTAM Summit this year in Washington, D.C., But unless attendees came from companies that belong to the “CTAM Corporate Fund,” there were several panel sessions they couldn’t attend, despite enticing descriptions in the conference’s guide.

CTAM CEO Char Beales said CTAM received a “handful” of complaints from attendees barred from 10 panel sessions that were limited to CTAM Corporate Fund members. That was enough for CTAM to “evaluate” whether some of the panel sessions again will be limited to corporate fund members at next fall’s confab in Boston, she said.

One CTAM Summit attendee who asked not to be identified complained CTAM was favoring major cable operators and networks by limiting access to some of the most intriguing panel sessions. The attendee noted that the summit’s theme, ironically, was “Power to the People.”

“Companies in the corporate fund are people too,” Beales responded.

Beales said the limited-attendance sessions — including one on the “transformation” of Insight Communications and one on “advanced TV-navigation digital products” — centered on research funded by the corporate members.

Cable networks and vendors in the fund pay CTAM $20,000 a year, while cable operators pay at least “six figures,” based on homes passed, Beales said. Seventy-one programmers and vendors pay into the fund, as do 13 multiple-systems operators. Individual membership fees for CTAM cost just $295 annually.

Eshoo to FCC’s Martin: Take Screed Off Web

When the Federal Communications Commission lost a big broadcast indecency court case in June, FCC chairman Kevin Martin had something of a Stockholm Syndrome moment, judging by his profanity-laced statement denouncing the ruling.

The federal appeals court told Martin he couldn’t fine stations for the fleeting, unscripted broadcast of the F-word or S-word, because the agency’s crackdown was new policy adopted in an impermissible manner under a federal due process law. Seething, Martin denounced the “New York” court for giving the green light to “Hollywood” to expose children to those words anytime it felt like it — using the actual words. Martin’s statement went commando with the F-word five times and the S-word four times.

While many people found Martin’s response an over-the-top eructation of uncivilized commentary, no one in authority had the courage to question Martin’s judgment.

That changed last week, when Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) basically told Martin to clean up his act.

“I looked again yesterday, you still have that press release up,” Eshoo said, a puzzled look on her face. “I don’t think it’s really becoming of an FCC chairman to have something like that, I mean, in terms of the language it contained. That’s unsolicited advice.”

An FCC official said Martin has no plans to alter his carefully worded statement to accommodate Eshoo. “As the chairman has said before, he thought it was very important that people understood what words were at issue here and those are words that make people — obviously, as the congresswoman seemed to be expressing — uncomfortable,” the official said.’s 'High-Def’: Don’t Hold Your Bref

Proving the notion that labeling something HD is supposed to be marketing crack, last week quietly kicked off a beta test of its allegedly high-definition Internet TV channel with four episodes from the network’s top-rated primetime shows.

But if your broadband connection or PC aren’t fast enough, you won’t see any difference over the regular versions.

In a cheeky disclaimer on the site, ABC promises to deliver HD programming “at the best quality and the biggest size allowed by law, or by your hardware.”

The four HD episodes were season finales of Desperate Housewives (“Getting Married Today”), Grey’s Anatomy (“Didn’t We Almost Have It All”), Lost (“Through the Looking Glass”) and Ugly Betty (“East Side Story”).

Multichannel News tested the site’s HD streams. Our finding: The full-screen (1280-by-720 resolution) episodes were sharper than regular versions on the site. But the Internet connection needed to stick around 2 megabits per second. And with less than a computer with dual-core processors and 1 Gigabyte of memory, say bye, bye to HD. Also, the video is condensed to about 2 Mbps using On2 Technologies codecs. Cable operators typically encode HD streams in MPEG-2 format at 12 to 19 Mbps.

Still, compared with YouTube … well, heck,’s HD Web video is, in a word, stunning.