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NCTA exec: Disaster personal, not cable issue

Wed, 09/12/2001 - 8:00pm
Anne Kerven

"We're taking a low profile" regarding member companies' charitable efforts in the aftermath of Tuesday's tragic attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., says NCTA spokesman Marc Smith. "We're letting them (speak) for themselves."

Smith had just returned from New York City to Washington, D.C. Along with other NCTA staff, he'd attended Diversity Week events and was at the National Association of Minorities in Cable meeting when news of the attacks started to trickle in. It took just 20 minutes after hearing the news to make the decision to cancel the events, he says.

"After we realized what happened, we went to (Insight Communications President and CEO) Michael Willner's office," Smith says. "From his office you should be able to see the World Trade Center."

The mood at the time was "very unsettled and insecure," he adds. After two nearby hits, one in Washington, D.C., and one in Pennsylvania, crowds were asking, "What's next?" Not until military fighter planes were seen overhead did people feel more secure, he says. No one from the event was injured, he says.

While talking to his wife in Washington, D.C., Smith says he could hear military vehicles going by his house. And from his backyard, "She could see smoke from the Pentagon."

Smith took the train out of New York, leaving via Penn Station, which was evacuated along with the Empire State Building last night, after a reported bomb scare.

Today, Washington, D.C., has "eased up" on its four-block block-off around the capitol.

Smith says NCTA hasn't "given any thought" to rescheduling. "We, like everyone else, are completely distracted," he says. "Just remember — this isn't a cable issue, it's a personal issue."

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