clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Top Cable Industry Guy Acknowledges People Hate Cable Guys (Video)

Livestreaming copyrighted shows or events is a problem, NCTA’s Michael Powell says.

Natalie Fonseca

Two massive losses in Washington recently by the cable industry — the adoption of net neutrality rules and the death of Comcast’s Time Warner Cable deal — have left cable operators “highly conscious” of the industry’s image problems, National Cable & Telecommunications Association chief executive Michael Powell said Tuesday.

“I’m a firm believer that words and messages don’t work if you’re not liked,” Powell said Tuesday during an interview with Re/code’s Kara Swisher at the cable industry’s annual trade show, which has been redubbed INTX, the Internet and Television Expo.

The new name is a nod to how different the cable industry is now, as cable providers* are increasingly known for being Internet providers while programmers are finding new outlets for their shows on over-the-top Internet television services.

Re/code is conducting some of the interviews at the show this year as part of a partnership with the NCTA.

“You have to be well-regarded by your customer base. You need to have a trusted relationship with them. You have to build that,” Powell said. “If that is frayed, you’re just ripe to have the next public policy to be turned against you just based on reputational critique.”

Cable industry executives are “not delusional” about the complaints from consumers — from ever-higher prices to terrible customer service — and are working on long-term fixes to those problems, he said.

Another issue that the industry isn’t particularly delusional about is the latest threat of piracy that has been introduced by video sharing apps such as Meerkat, Periscope or Vine.

Over the weekend, concerns about the ability of people to share copyrighted content over new video services came up after plenty of people avoided the $100 pay-per-view charge to watch the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight Saturday night by watching live Periscope streams of it via Twitter.

Asked about the latest trend in pirating live shows, Powell said he thinks of disruptive technologies like Periscope or Meerkat as coming “with an enormous amount of good and a bit of bad, like all things.”

“There are opportunities to violate intellectual property and copyright. There are opportunities to frustrate models that have been built and a lot of people have invested in,” he continued. “Those fighters were paid hundreds of millions of dollars premised on the television rights that were associated with funding that fight.”

* Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which is a minority investor in Revere Digital, Re/code’s parent company.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.