Trade Event Report
An Analysis of Executive Roles at Media Firms - SkyForum Spring 2004: Critique on the Media Industry, + + +
By Al Berrios (contact Al Berrios)

The SBCA, the trade group that organizes the SkyForum, is an excellent organization. They've got excellent marketing execution for their events and have developed a community where there wasn't one once. Unfortunately, their events are beginning to get a little stale, in no part their fault; not much happens in the satellite biz between semi-annual get-togethers. My suggestion: eliminate one conference, and just get-together annually.

As always, the service, food, and venue (the Waldorf) were all top-notch. However, I only say this based on other events I've attended by the SBCA and at the Waldorf in New York City. Upon reviewing their agenda for Tuesday, April 13, 2004, I decided that I didn't need to spend time listening to things that were discussed at the last SkyForum or are regularly reported in the trade media, and instead just attended a session on programming featuring HBO, ESPN, Starz Encore, Showtime, Discovery, and Turner.

The Future of Cable?

The one thing I took from here was the suggestion that cablers should offer entry-level- priced products for consumers. This came from David Baldwin, EVP, Program Planning, HBO. Although not a revolutionary concept, it's something interesting to look out for in the future of the cable industry, (particularly from HBO).


As soon as that session ended, I left. The thing that irks me about the media industry altogether is that the managers and directors run the business. Nothing wrong with that, except that once the managers and directors do the work, the more senior execs veto what they don't like and take credit for what works.

This means that no matter how many gatherings you go to and how many people you continuously run into and how well-versed you become in the lingo, an attempt to offer a professional service (like consulting, for example) via the managers or directors that know their business is about as effective as flapping your arms.

Senior media executives are then the kind of middle-management that gets cut first at media concerns, since delegators are easily replaced. And this means most execs peak at just below this level. As such, they seem to enjoy using their managers and directors as obstacles to their offices, in some vain attempt to appear more important to the firm than they actually are.

Authority then becomes an orphan child at media companies, leaving serious service providers (not unlike myself) in a constant state of ping-pong limbo, never knowing and always skeptical.

Things got this bad not entirely by the fault of senior executives. It just happened as the industry consolidated and more and more authority was concentrated at the top. Honestly, conglomerates only need three types of execs: those that make the product, those that sell the product, and those that makes sure the other two get paid on time. Everyone else is just fluff.

> SBCAs 20th biannual SkyForum + + + +
> Spring SkyFORUM 2003


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