Execs Say Economy Won’t Hurt Cable

Leading cable television executives said Wednesday that they will be largely unaffected by the expected downturn in the economy, despite becoming more dependent on costly event programming as a result of increasing channel fragmentation caused by emerging digital delivery systems.

Several hundred people attended the Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s third annual Newsmaker Luncheon featuring cable programming chiefs. Geraldo Rivera moderated the discussion at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.

“We’ve all gone through a little belt-tightening, but what’s important to remember is that we at Turner have a combination of ad-supported and pay TV business models,” TNT president of original programming Robert DeBitetto said. “In past years, we’ve reaped a ton of ad revenue from the dot-coms. Now that that’s gone, we might not be creating as much longform programming. But we’ll balance that out with more original series.”

Showtime Networks president of programming Jerry Offsay said that because Showtime was free of advertising, it will be even less affected by an economic slowdown. “However, we do fall under the Viacom corporate umbrella, and as things get softer, our parent company will become more dependent upon Showtime to deliver the money,” Offsay said.