Last week, we hosted another successful CEO luncheon featuring Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens. Discussion at the event, now available as a webcast here, managed to cover topics ranging from the COPE bill to customer service. Below is, for me, some of the more memorable moments.
Senator Stevens gave an update on the status of the Senate telecom bill, stating that he hopes to revisit it after the mid-term election recess and get it passed before the end of this Congress. The best quote from Stevens, however, was uttered to reporters in the hallway after his remarks (From Broadcasting & Cable):
"There is no way you can appease the people that say there is a net neutrality problem," he said, "It's a fetish. It's really something that doesn't exist."
(For some reason, Stevens describing net neutrality as a "fetish" makes me giggle.)
In his remarks, Comcast CEO Roberts showed his intimate knowledge of the 96 telecom act and the policy issues it has brought about ten years later. While he eloquently opined on the state of competition and innovation in the communications market, the big newsmaker was his comments on sports programming. I know some of you in the Washington area watched the drama between Comcast, the Mid Atlantic Sports Network and the FCC unfold over the summer. Roberts, addressing a similar industry dispute with the NFL Network, took the opportunity to call for talks between all parties involved. At issue is the high cost of the programming and, specifically, how this extra cost should be paid for by viewers.
For better commentary that I can provide on the issue of our "right" to see our local sports team on TV, please see Adam Thierer's past blog here.
So, please, view the video. Even if for no other reason but to see the back of my head (yes, that's me on lower left hand corner of the screen).