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Application a "misguided hand grenade"

QUEBEC CITY - The audience was a bit taken aback at the frankness of Rogers Cable COO and Canadian Cable Television Association chair Dean MacDonald this morning.

At the Canadian Association of Broadcasters annual convention, MacDonald revealed some serious second thoughts towards the handling of the application which the CCTA made to add ESPN, HBO, Showtime and others to the eligible satellite list. It's not that he believes such a move is a bad idea, just that he'd perhaps like a do-over with the actual application and how it was done. As reported by last week, the Commission rejected the request.

"Frankly, the application was misguided. It was a bit of a hand grenade. There was no plan behind it and you guys have taken a bit of a knee on it,' MacDonald told the broadcasters.

However he added, the cable industry now wants to work with those Canadian broadcasters to see if there is a way to get them to agree to add the popular U.S. cable brands here. "We feel that our customers are asking us for this stuff and people are going around the system in droves and we obviously want to stem that," he said.

While saying he doesn't regret the application since it did get the public talking about the issue, the way it was done made his industry come off like the cable cowboys which they are often portrayed. "We just kind of came out and drew our guns and started firing. I think we need to sit down at table (with the broadcasters) and see if there's a workable model.

"From our perspective, I think our customers were pretty happy about (the application) and that's who we speak for," added MacDonald, who said he was disappointed in the broadcasters' characterization of the application as a money-grab, as CAB president Glenn O'Farrell was quoted as saying.

"The disappointing thing about the comment that it's a money-grab is that we're standing up and saying this is what we want to do for our customers, so I guess Glenn's customers are the corporations he represents. I don't hear them talking about (consumers)."

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