Is “Cable” Now a Dirty Word?

In its efforts to reinvent itself, the cable industry’s top lobbying organization confirms that “cable” a dirty word.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) recently announced it will be known as “NCTA – The Internet & Television Association.” In the association’s news release, Michael Powell, NCTA President and CE, said that the name and logo change reflects the NCTA’s need to “reflect the vibrancy and diversity” of its members. In the statement, Powell added, “While our mission to drive the industry forward remains the same, our look now reflects a renewed proactive and energized spirit.”

The updated NCTA brand is a continuation of its efforts to distance itself from the term “cable.” Last year, the association rebranded the name of its trade event from “The Cable Show” to “INTX: The Internet and Television Expo.” NCTA also adopted a new logo the features an interlocking red circle and blue dot. This is meant to symbolize “unity, partnership, and energy,” according to the association’s website.

So it’s clear that the NCTA wants to distance itself from the term “cable,” which is a move that’s loaded with implications. The biggest one is the most obvious – cable must be pretty bad. Why else would its national association go to such great pains to distance itself from the term? Unfortunately, the metaphor about a pig in lipstick comes to mind. If you haven’t heard it, it goes something like this – You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. The meaning here is simple – superficial changes don’t fix deep-rooted problems.

Rather than changing the name of the its organization and trade show, perhaps the NCTA should look at why “cable” has become a dirty word in the first place. To myself and most Americans – and especially cord-cutters – the word “cable” means overpriced, unreliable, and rude. Yes, the argument could be made that these traits are individual cable providers and not the NCTA. This is true. But the association’s choice to distance itself from the term “cable” is tantamount to the NCTA saying that every gripe people have about cable is true… and likely won’t ever change.

Members of the NCTA aren’t the only ones distancing themselves from cable. Plenty of American viewers are opting out of this TV viewing service. As cable continues to become less convenient and more convoluted, frustrated viewers continue to cut the cord. They either get a TV antenna, adopt streaming services, or opt for satellite TV. Some do all three, or a combination of two of these options. Again, this should come as no surprise.

Speaking of satellite TV, there’s the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association (SBCA), of which Signal Group, the parent company of this blog, is a member. While the NCTA continues to distance itself from the word “cable,” the SBCA proudly uses the term “satellite” in its title. What’s more, the organization continues to provide industry advocacy for consumer access to the best in satellite deliver services and assurance of its availability at a fair price.

When the cable industry’s top lobbying organization is fleeing from its former self, the future of TV antennas, streaming services, and satellite TV seem more certain.