Cable CEOs: 50 Years of History and Strong Future

Cable CEOs: 50 Years of History and Strong Future
06/03/2013 Carol Ward

(London, 6 March 2013) Day 1 of Cable Congress ended with a bang as CNN Presenter Becky Anderson interviewed Michael T. Fries, President and CEO of Liberty Global live on stage with questions taken from a packed conference room in London.  The hot topic was of course the recently announced acquisition of Virgin Media by Liberty Global, but further than this, Fries and Anderson discussed growth drivers and challenges for the cable market in.

On timing and rationale for the Virgin Media acquisition Fries said: “Virgin Media has terrific broadband coverage in the [UK] market, they have great assets, a great brand and an extremely competent management team in a relatively rational market – we think it is a good time to be in this market.”

Mike went on to discuss the increasingly important role that mobile is playing: “Everyone in this market needs a mobile strategy. We have taken a modest approach to mobile, but this is changing. Having a quad play option is now an important piece of the puzzle.”

The afternoon was framed by Virgin Media and Liberty Global, as earlier Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media, took to the stage to deliver the second keynote speech of the day. Echoing Ed Vaizey’s comments from yesterday morning, Berkett noted: “The tie up of [Virgin Media] with Liberty Global will put cable on a stronger footing, placing greater strategic importance on infrastructure and helping to accelerate Europe’s digital future.”

Fries and Berkett also both placed emphasis on the prospects for cable’s future.  Both agreed that the cable industry has been around for 50 years and it will be around for many more to come. Berkett suggested that “Superfast communications are as indispensable to national success now and in the future as the canals and railways were in the past.  It’s for this reason that in the UK, despite the tough times our economy has been through, the cable sector has not just avoided recession, it has grown: more customers, more services, more jobs.  It just goes to show digital makes good things happen.”

Likewise, when Fries was asked whether there will be an industry in 5 years’ time, his answer was simple: “Yes. This industry has come a long way in the last 10 years – with the sophistication of the networks, and development in broadband. What we will be talking about in 10 years’ time? Maybe we will own the mobile operators. I would not bet against this industry – it’s been going strong for 50 years.”

Day 2 of Cable Congress 2013 focuses on content, financing cable’s growth and features more facts & figures on the industry from IHS Screen Digest. Follow us at @cableeurope and #CC2013.