Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Welcome To The Jungle

It’s always exciting to start a new job. Especially a job in an industry you know nothing about. The learning curve may be stiff, but that’s part of the fun and when you get a firm grasp of the issues, you can feel proud of yourself for having met the challenge.

Today, Kyle McSlarrow officially begins his reign as President of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. After running for Congress twice and working in various Hill offices, Mr. McSlarrow will undoubtedly encounter new terrain as he learns to manage a national membership association. To smooth his path, I’ve decided to offer him a few hints and tips:

Realize that even though NCTA is a membership organization, you only have three members; Comcast, Time Warner and Cox. The rest of your members are minor league and their opinions don’t really count. Actually, you only have one member, Comcast. If you will just do what Comcast tells you, you’ll make out just fine.

You need to convince the Board of Directors to remove the word “Telecommunications” from the association’s name. NCTA is strictly cable and not telecom, unless you are attempting to get out from under local franchising and franchising fees and then you are not cable you are telecom and most often an “information service” association.

Be prepared to move quickly. An example of the importance of flexibility was provided just yesterday in Walnut Creek California. Multichannel News reported that Comcast and Walnut Creek were very close to reaching agreement on the new franchise and then by 6:28 p.m. the East Bay Business Times reported that Comcast had sued the City of Walnut Creek. Now that’s fancy footwork!

Learn how to drag your feet. Dragging your feet can be a tricky thing if you also have to be prepared to move quickly, but it can be done. Again, with Walnut Creek, those franchise negotiations have been dragging out since 1999. Sure a franchise transfer added to the snail’s pace, but ensuing intractability on behalf of Comcast has enabled Andrew Johnson, Vice President of Communications to justify his salary.

You are no longer in public service. I’m thinking you ran for Congress because you had a desire to serve the people of your state. You need to vanquish those urges in your new position because the last thing you will be advocating for is people. As you said yourself “Once I made a decision that I was going to do this job, we are a pro-cable household and that’s the way we are going to be.” You can’t serve two masters and with what they’re paying you, the public deserves what it gets.

Adjust your vocabulary. Replace the term “consumer” with the term “customer.” “Regulation” now becomes “cumbersome government interference.” “Franchise agreements” are “barriers to free enterprise.” “Redlining” is “obligations to our stockholders.” “Anti-municipal lobbying” is “leveling the playing field.” I’ve got hundreds of them gathered over years of experience so if you get stuck, just give me a call.

I’m sure as time goes on and you continue to expose your inner most secrets to the press (like how you can’t wait for the Sci-Fi channel’s Friday night lineup) I’ll think of more tips to send your way. Meanwhile, Kyle, be prepared to do things you never thought you would do, that’s what happens when you lay down with the big dogs, you usually find yourself covered with fleas.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sure makes me glad I don't have his job. Maybe you should send him a flea collar as a housewarming gift.