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Major Telecom Players Attend Telecom '05

The emerging telco video market boosted attendance and attracted new faces among the broadcast community at Telecom '05 in Las Vegas this week.

In a keynote speech, David J. Barrett, CEO of Hearst-Argyle Television said that regulatory battles currently being fought out in Washington, D.C., make it difficult for newcomers to the video distribution business to jump into the marketplace.

Of these battles, "one of them is to break down antiquated or inefficient barriers to competition in the video distribution marketplace--particularly in the local franchising context," he said.

However other attendees--including Cox CEO Jim Robbins--are critical of some of the new changes in telecom, such as the recent Texas law that eases franchising rules for telecom entry into video.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin spoke via satellite from Washington, D.C. about franchise regulation. He said new video entrants, regardless of the technology used, should be encouraged--not impeded from entry.

"The Commission should take steps to fulfill Congress's directive that franchising authorities not grant exclusive franchises or unreasonably refuse to award additional competitive franchises," he said.

Martin's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the matter will be reviewed in a matter of days.

"I have been discussing the importance of doing everything we can to foster innovation and infrastructure investment," he said. "But Congress has also instructed the commission to make sure that rural America does not get left behind by this technological revolution."


Addressing the conference, Starz Entertainment Group CEO Robert B. Clasen described on-demand as a new medium that is as different from linear TV as television is from radio.

He said content providers are prepared to "break the mold" and reinvent video programming as new distribution systems are rolled out, combining digital television, on-demand, telephony, high-speed Internet access and wireless technology.

Starz has developed new navigation tools for on-demand, according to Clasen, and new forms of programming tailored for the on-demand experience, such as special introductions to on-demand movies pointing out special scenes to watch.

Telecom '05 continues to grow and this year marked an all-time high in exhibit floor sales. The conference was listed among one of the 50 fastest growing tradeshows in North America, according to TradeShow Week.