CED's CableLabs Winter Conference boycott

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 8:50am
Brian Santo

CED will not be covering the events of the CableLabs Winter Conference this year.

Any company that is introducing a new product or service and that talks directly with us will of course be accorded the same coverage opportunity they'd get at any other time of the year. But participation in the Winter Conference will not be noted by CED.

News organizations are not allowed to attend CableLabs conferences. This has been an ongoing irritation for us in the press, but in the past year or so, industry conditions have changed, and, in CED's estimation, being barred from the vendor hall is now intolerable.

CableLabs is a private consortium, and we are not contesting the members' right to meet in private. But the members of CableLabs also sell display space to vendors at the CableLabs meetings. In other words, they run a small trade show – a private one that bars the press.

This is the source of the irritation mentioned above, and it is shared by other editors and reporters who cover the industry. But it has been a minor irritant, as there had always been multiple public trade shows and other events scattered throughout the year providing ample opportunity to see demonstrations of new innovations and products.

This is no longer the case. The industry has decided to reduce the number of public events and confine those that remain to a week in the spring and a week in the fall.

Or tried to.

A presumably unintended consequence of eliminating events in winter and summer is to raise the profile and significance of the CableLabs conferences. They have now become important for the vendors, an increasing number of which schedule new product and service announcements to coincide with the event.

In other words, the relatively unimportant little mini trade shows attached to the CableLabs semi-annual meetings have become key industry events.

The difference is these trade shows are private. And not only is the press barred, but the participating vendors are limited to how many people they can bring, and those who are not members of CableLabs have limited opportunity to see what some of the latest innovations and products are.

We believe this is unfair, as do some of the vendors who, over the years, have invited us to stop by their booths and were surprised to find we're not allowed in.

So this year I petitioned CableLabs. I explained what I've just explained to you and offered a proposal: Allow the press access only to the vendor hall, and for only one day. The private meetings would, of course, remain private.

CableLabs' brought the proposal to its members on our behalf and returned to report that its members turned down the offer.

So that's why CED is making this small gesture of protest. We will not cover an event we are not allowed to attend.

It is not clear if CableLabs will host another edition of its Innovation Showcases at its Winter Conference, but our decision to not cover the Winter Conference is likely to most affect the company that prevails in the informal poll of industry executives regarding which innovation is most likely to succeed, inasmuch as we will not tout that fact on behalf of that company.

Again, any companies presenting at the CableLabs Winter Conference, in the Innovation Showcase or not, can talk with us directly. You know where to find us.



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