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Focus On Programming Urged For Cable-tv

February 20, 1986|CLARKE TAYLOR

NEW YORK — Programming will be the main preoccupation of the cable-TV industry over the next decade, the president and chief executive officer of the National Cable Television Assn. said here Wednesday.

In an address before the New York chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, James Mooney said the cable industry can now shift from what he termed the "preoccupation" of its youth, the building of a distribution system, and focus on "the business of its maturity." He said the focus should be on customer service, marketing and especially programming.

"In the end, it's programming that we are selling, not a means of (cable-TV) transmission, and it's more and better programs that we need to start selling."

Mooney referred to the 1984 federal deregulation legislation that significantly has freed cable operators from the constraints of local communities and that allows relatively unlimited numbers of communities to be wired for cable. Mooney predicted that by 1990, as many as 85% of U.S. households will be wired for cable, an increase of about 35% over the current number.

Mooney dismissed a study that indicated fewer TV viewers were turning away from network television and tuning to cable. He also minimized the effect on the cable industry of the increasingly popular videocassette recorder.

He expressed a view that basic cable services such as MTV, C-SPAN and CNN were "hot" with the TV viewing public, and he said the principal problem remaining for pay services, such as Home Box Office and Showtime, "is that there is not yet enough original product."

"It's all a question of what the public appetite is," Mooney said, noting that wiring more of the country for cable will whet and then satisfy that appetite.

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