Interview Date: Thursday October 17, 2002
Interview Location: Columbia, SC
Interviewer: Jim Keller
Collection: Hauser Collection
Note: Video not available at this time
KELLER: This is the oral history of Bud M. TIBSHRANY, currently vice-president of public affairs for Time Warner Cablevision’s South Carolina division. Bud is a cable pioneer, and has been the recipient of almost every award that the Southern Cable Association can hand out. He’s been in the industry more than 35 years, and he is truly a cable pioneer, both in his work and being named a Cable Pioneer. We are in the studios of WIS in Columbia, South Carolina. The date is October 17, 2002. Bud, tell us a little bit about your background before you got into cable.
TIBSHRANY: Jim, before I got into cable, I was a student at the University of South Carolina here in Columbia, and I began working for WIS as a production technician, they called them, I think, in those days, and operated TV cameras on live television shows, and then I spent a couple years in the U.S. Navy in Coronado, California at the amphibious base and when I returned to WIS, the parent company, Cosmos, was getting into the cable TV business, had a separate division, Cosmos Cablevision Corporation. That’s how I got into cable.
KELLER: Now, what was the incentive for Cosmos getting into the business?
TIBSHRANY: Well, it seemed to be a very promising future, and the president of the company at that time was a visionary, Richard Shaftow, and he knew what was going to happen to cable in the future, and of course he was an outstanding broadcaster also.
KELLER: This was after Cox had already been involved in the business, after Leonard Reinsch got Cox in the business?
TIBSHRANY: That’s correct.
KELLER: Which was always amazing to me how that conservative, old-line newspaper family could get a number one broadcasting and in cable after that, and they attribute it all to Leonard.
TIBSHRANY: Right. And we had a joint venture with Cox in Charlotte, North Carolina.
KELLER: What years?
TIBSHRANY: That was about 1968 to ’72. The name of our company there was Cox Cosmos, as a matter of fact, and it was a situation where you had two cable companies on the same streets, and it was not a very pleasant experience.
KELLER: There have been very few of these, and very few people have had any experience in a competitive situation for the same household up and down the street. How did you market your programming and your system?
TIBSHRANY: Well, obviously we had to be cognizant of what the competition was doing.
KELLER: Who was the competition?
TIBSHRANY: It was a company called Jefferson Carolina, and Jefferson Pilot Insurance Company was involved in that, and on our side of the business was Cox, which owned an NBC affiliate in Charlotte at that time. Marketing was very important, needless to say. We had an advertising agency that prepared some very creative and attractive advertising, door-to-door sales. It was difficult, however. We feel like we were more successful than they were.
KELLER: How many homes were double-cabled in the community?
TIBSHRANY: I would say about 50% of our system was – we called it overbuild – in the prime heart of Charlotte.
KELLER: And how many subscribers did your company have, and how many did Jefferson Pilot have?
TIBSHRANY: Jim, it’s very difficult for me to remember what the numbers were back then.
KELLER: I understand that. But you had more subscribers?
TIBSHRANY: Yes, we had at least slightly more subscribers than they did.
KELLER: How did it play out?
TIBSHRANY: Eventually both companies were purchased by another company, but I do want to mention that our competition was a telephone company leaseback system, and I’m sure you remember the days of the leaseback where as a telephone company built their system, constructed their system, and leased it back to them, and we found out that Carolina Telephone, which is a part of the Jefferson Carolina company was partially owned by Bell Telephone at that time, and there was a close relationship, let me put it that way, with them. And so we got the telephone company to also start constructing and leasing some system to us so that we could stay up with, keep pace with their construction.
KELLER: So you had two sets of contractors going down the street then?
TIBSHRANY: Absolutely. And in the leaseback area where the phone company was doing work for both of us, they were lashing both cables together on the same strand wire. So frequently you had an installer going up, hooking a customer up to the wrong cable, and about three or four weeks later the customer realized that he or she was getting the wrong service. So it was not beneficial, quite frankly, to anyone, and eventually, as I said, it was rectified due to an ownership change.
KELLER: In the leaseback system, I know you weren’t involved with that, but you had to provide better service than the other company did with the leaseback system.
TIBSHRANY: Yes, we did. In the small portion where we were involved in leaseback…
KELLER: You were involved?
TIBSHRANY: Some of our system was, however the majority of it was our own pole constructed plant. The small part that was…
KELLER: Did you set your own poles?
TIBSHRANY: No, no, we didn’t set poles. We constructed plant and attached it to the poles.
KELLER: Would the telephone company permit that even though they had their own…?
TIBSHRANY: Yes, we were the only company that had the pole attachment agreements. In fact, in those days the utility companies would only grant one set of pole attachment agreements, and that’s what forced the competition to go leaseback since they didn’t have pole attachment agreements.
KELLER: I’m surprised though, I know at one time the telephone company, if they were going to get into the business in their own exchange area, they would not allow anyone else on the pole, of course until the FCC finally said you will.
TIBSHRANY: We did not have that experience, but it was a horrendous daily procedure. The customer called us – I’m talking about the leaseback area…
KELLER: This is where I wanted you to get to.
TIBSHRANY: Yes, a customer would call us and order cable. We would have to send the order to the telephone company. The telephone company would eventually get out and install the service drop line from the pole to the side of the house, to the grounding wire.
KELLER: They installed the drop to the side of the house?
TIBSHRANY: That’s correct, and then they would report back to us that the drop had been installed so that we could send our installer out and complete the installation, and too many times the drop had not been installed, or had not been installed properly and we would have to go through the whole process again so the customer was sitting there stewing, rightfully so, waiting for all of this to be concluded.
KELLER: What happened if you had an outage or you needed a service call on the trunk line?
TIBSHRANY: That’s a good question. In the leaseback area, we would have to call the telephone company. Our hands were tied. We could not work on their distribution lines. So we would have to call the telephone company, they would send crews out to correct the problem. They were not always as expeditious as we were because cable was not anything really special to them because they were installing cable like they were installing PBXs and phone service and so forth. It was our livelihood.
KELLER: When you interconnected with probably our own system somewhere along the line did you ever have controversy about where the problem was?
TIBSHRANY: No, we did not because it was an isolated area where the leaseback area was.
KELLER: I’ve never operated under them, but I understand that those that did had nothing but monumental problems.
TIBSHRANY: Absolutely, and it was definitely not customer friendly.
KELLER: You got in the business in 1964 or ’63?
TIBSHRANY: Correct, ’64.
KELLER: You then went with Cosmos to where?
TIBSHRANY: We moved around a good bit. We started out in Florence, South Carolina, moved to Ocala, Florida. The company had purchased the system in Ocala, Florida, which was a five channel cable system, a low-band system. Three of the channels would get wiped out with co-channel interference in the summer time because all we were carrying in those days were broadcast stations from distant communities. The company sold that system about 2 ½ years later, and then I moved back to South Carolina, spent some time in Sumter as manager, and then to Florence, and then up to Charlotte. Cosmos got out of the cable business in 1970 while we were in Charlotte.
KELLER: Did they sell the business?
TIBSHRANY: Yes, they did.
KELLER: To whom?
TIBSHRANY: At the time it was a company by the name of American Finance Company, and then it was sold to subsequent owners.
KELLER: American Finance. Was that out of Indiana, was it?
TIBSHRANY: I’m not sure where it was based. They were not experienced cable operators, so the existing staff and management remained intact, however…
KELLER: They were just brokering it.
TIBSHRANY: Yeah, however I moved on to Kingsport, Tennessee with Cyprus Communications.
KELLER: Burt Harris.
TIBSHRANY: Burt Harris, a wonderful man.
KELLER: A fine gentleman, we all agree on that.
TIBSHRANY: Still a good friend.
KELLER: Well, anyone who’s ever met Burt is a good friend of Burt’s. He’s just a remarkable man.
KELLER: And where did you go with Burt?
TIBSHRANY: Stayed in Kingsport as a regional manager for Cyprus Communications, which was later acquired by Warner Cable. In fact, I was there when Warner Cable was born, so to speak, and then stayed in Kingsport for 2 ½ years.
KELLER: Now Burt had some kind of a relationship with the Warner people, didn’t he? With the theater group?
TIBSHRANY: I’m trying to recall that relationship. You’re talking about prior to the acquisition?
TIBSHRANY: I think he may have, but I’m not absolutely sure.
KELLER: He was involved in some way in the filmmaking business, I think.
TIBSHRANY: Well, he was heavily involved in the broadcast business, owned a lot of TV stations.
KELLER: Yeah, I knew that. Harriscope.
TIBSHRANY: Harriscope Broadcasting.
KELLER: And when did you finally know that you were going to be in this business for the next 100 years?
TIBSHRANY: Well, I was taking each day at a time, so to speak, but I figured then, quite frankly, that this was an exciting business and had a very good future, even though we were not into the high technology in those days. It was somewhat primitive. But I left Kingsport when I was offered a position back in my hometown here in Columbia with United Cable that was based at that time in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
KELLER: Gene Schneider’s company.
TIBSHRANY: Gene Schneider, outstanding individual.
KELLER: Yes he is. Still operating, mostly in Europe now though.
KELLER: And you then came down here.
TIBSHRANY: Well, actually, I stopped off on the way because United owned the franchise in Chattanooga, Tennessee, so they weren’t ready to start construction in Columbia and asked me to go to Chattanooga and restart the construction project that had been dormant for a year and a half, and we did that and six months later they decided to shut that down due to the recession of 1974 and the difficult financial situation.
KELLER: The company’s name was LVO, right?
KELLER: Livingston Oil Company out of Tulsa?
TIBSHRANY: Exactly, yes, and they changed the name to United Cable, and then after we shut down the construction in Chattanooga, I came back home to Columbia and United still was not prepared to commence construction here, and Wometco Communications based in Miami got interested in the franchise here, acquired the franchise, and employed me as the general manager, and we commenced construction and did construct the Columbia system. Turned on the first customer in December of 1977, as a matter of fact.
KELLER: Here in Columbia?
TIBSHRANY: Here in Columbia.
KELLER: How did you then go from the management operation as a general manager and get into the field of corporate relations and governmental relations?
TIBSHRANY: I was in management for roughly 27 years, and when CVI acquired Cablevision Industries, Alan Gerry’s group acquired the Wometco systems; they were very big on governmental and public affairs. This is something that I always enjoyed very much but did not have enough time to devote the time that I wanted to, and so I felt like that would be a good move and I had the opportunity to move into that position.
KELLER: And you’ve been in it ever since.
TIBSHRANY: Been in it ever since, and I’m please to say that Time Warner Cable also places a very high priority on community relations, public affairs, and governmental relations.
KELLER: Do they have a national director or national vice-president of public affairs?
TIBSHRANY: Yes, we have a senior vice-president, Lynn Yeager in Stamford, Connecticut, the corporate office for Time Warner Cable.
KELLER: And how often do you relate with him?
TIBSHRANY: Well, it’s a she. We communicate a couple times a month, something like that.
KELLER: If you have a problem?
TIBSHRANY: Yeah, or just to quite frankly keep her in the corporate office apprised of our activities, at least our significant activities.
KELLER: We were talking earlier that you have 71 franchises.
TIBSHRANY: Yes, we are operating in 71 communities in South Carolina, and it’s a challenge to keep 71 city and county councils happy and we think we do a very good job with that.
KELLER: From what I’ve heard, and obviously after visiting with you for awhile this morning, I can see why. How often do you talk to the various city councils?
TIBSHRANY: Well, it depends on what’s going on. We believe offense is the best defense, and not to wait until it’s time to ask the council for something. So there’s no regular schedule per se, however we try to touch base with them every couple months or so, and thus far we’ve been successful in that mode of operation.
KELLER: Do you go down and work through the staff?
TIBSHRANY: We work with the general managers, yes.
KELLER: I mean in the city staffs, the city manager?
TIBSHRANY: City staffs, absolutely. The city managers and county administrators are our points of contact.
KELLER: You made a statement earlier, and I want to recall this, that at one time you had multiple, multiple headends throughout South Carolina. You currently are down to three now, you said?
TIBSHRANY: Yes, thanks to the new technology, fiber optic technology, we had 15 headends in South Carolina, and we have reduced that to three headends now by interconnecting the different systems via fiber. Ultimately we will have one headend so that the channel lineups will be the same in all the communities throughout the South Carolina division.
KELLER: It’s interesting that you said that at least here in Columbia you do absolutely no programming.
TIBSHRANY: No, we do not have a local studio operation here in Columbia. We do sell local advertising and insert that advertising in numerous cable networks.
KELLER: But you do have a programming operation in Myrtle Beach.
TIBSHRANY: Yes, we do. We have a very fine studio operation there. We do a good bit of local programming, a news show, and it’s highly regarded.
KELLER: Do they program just a certain number of hours a week or a day?
TIBSHRANY: I’m trying to ballpark this. I think they have about four hours a day, and so you’re looking at roughly 20-25 hours a week.
KELLER: And they sell that locally?
TIBSHRANY: Yes, they do, and they do community programming as well.
KELLER: Cover city council meetings?
TIBSHRANY: They do that, yes they do, and parades, and have variety programming and so forth.
KELLER: When was the last time you got a call from either the mayor or a city manager in any one of your areas that said hey, you better get down here, we’ve got a problem?
TIBSHRANY: It’s been so long that I cannot tell you when it was, and that’s not to say that we don’t get them, however our policy is if we get a call from a city manager or a county administrator, we jump on it very fast and contact the customer, if it’s a customer complaint, and resolve the problem immediately. But again, we feel that the local governments have enough to do without having to deal with cable problems, and so we try to do a good job in our business so that customers don’t feel the need to contact the local governments.
KELLER: Do any of your communities or any of your areas have an overseeing committee on the city council or the government entity?
TIBSHRANY: I think we only have two communities and it’s a very short meeting, just an update type of meeting. As far as having any real authority over the cable company, they do not.
KELLER: Do any of your communities have a cable administrator?
TIBSHRANY: No, none, we have none.
KELLER: You are very fortunate to have this. You said that in the early days when you were directly involved in franchising…
TIBSHRANY: I’m still heavily involved in it.
KELLER: The re-franchising now. What are your present stories about your re-franchising?
TIBSHRANY: Well, times have changed.
KELLER: You have the dual authority between the FCC…
TIBSHRANY: Right. Years ago it was a very simple matter. We would submit a proposal and the council would adopt it and it was done. Today, although we still have that kind of treatment today in a number of communities, some of the communities now have consultants.
KELLER: Still today?
TIBSHRANY: Yes, today, and it’s a lot more complicated process because the consultants are normally going to advise the cities and the counties that they need to demand many different types of services – access channels, studios, and so forth, leased access, and on and on, grants for access equipment – so we’re in a process right now in two communities dealing with consultants.
KELLER: Who are the consultants?
TIBSHRANY: We deal with a consultant in Minneapolis…
KELLER: That’s not your purview though?
TIBSHRANY: I deal with them, yes. The consultant in Minneapolis, Minnesota on our Myrtle Beach franchise renewal.
KELLER: The consultant is from Minneapolis.
TIBSHRANY: That’s correct, and the city has retained the consultant to advise them on what they should do and what they should ask for in the cable franchise renewal.
KELLER: What’s his name?
TIBSHRANY: Brian Grogan.
KELLER: A professor?
TIBSHRANY: No, I don’t think he’s a professor. At least I’m not aware that he’s a professor.
KELLER: Up there in Minnesota and Wisconsin, a lot of those communications professors took on a lot of these operations like that.
TIBSHRANY: And we’re dealing with another group, also out of Minnesota, for our Richland County franchise renewal, which is right here in the suburbs of Columbia.
KELLER: Are the communities requiring you to pay for their services?
TIBSHRANY: They would like for us to pay for their services, however our company, Time Warner Cable, has a policy that we do not pay for consultant services, and we advise the communities of that early on.
KELLER: So if they’re going to hire one, they know they have to hire them on their own dime.
KELLER: I’d imagine those must have been a couple of good conversations about that. I didn’t know Time Warner had that policy.
TIBSHRANY: Yes, we do. In fact, we have a form letter that we send out early in the process.
KELLER: To each of the communities?
TIBSHRANY: To the local governments.
KELLER: What was the last franchise that you franchised?
TIBSHRANY: Well, we’ve done some small communities in South Carolina recently, however the larger ones are Columbia – it will not come up for renewal until the latter part of 2003. Richland County is one of our largest, and like I say, it’s in process right now. Myrtle Beach is another large one. We’ve done numerous smaller communities over the past year or two.
KELLER: Now these major communities such as Columbia or Myrtle Beach or Richland County, would they hire a consultant? Will they hire a consultant?
TIBSHRANY: Well, Myrtle Beach has, as I mentioned, the consultant from Minnesota, and Richland County has also.
KELLER: What are the more onerous conditions they’re asking for, provisions they’re asking for in the new franchise?
TIBSHRANY: Well, just about every consultant asks for many access channels, local origination channels, institutional networks linking their buildings, all their public buildings together, financial grants to assist them in purchasing all of this equipment to have these channels and studio operation. It is a very costly situation, needless to say. Of course we don’t just play dead and accept their demands right on. We do heavy negotiating with them.
KELLER: Do you negotiate with the consultants, or do you lobby the council?
TIBSHRANY: No, we don’t start with the council. We negotiate with the consultant and the city manager or county administrator initially, and then it might lead to a work session with the council.
KELLER: And if they won’t back off on any of the things that you just think are too onerous… because you’re not exactly in a position of strength when you go in.
TIBSHRANY: Well, we think that we have the Cable Act on our side, which is very helpful. Now it is, right now. Sometimes it’s a very protracted period of time before a franchise renewal can be completed. It may require franchise extensions. We have a number of communities right now that we’re operating on with franchise extensions to take us to the point of completing a franchise renewal.
KELLER: Well, I know you’re probably a very, very good negotiator, but do you ever get down to a bare knuckles type of situation with any of these communities?
TIBSHRANY: Well, we try to keep it as amicable as possible, but yes, we get up and walk out sometimes, particularly when there are exorbitant demands coming from consultants. We don’t believe that a local government really needs a consultant, and we’ve been successful in convincing some local communities of that fact when they initially started the process with consultants because of the cost to the community and so forth, and the obstacle of dealing with the city via a consultant. So, basically that’s the situation, but the majority of our franchise renewals are fortunately handled without consultants.
KELLER: You’re not doing any programming, or very little programming, so how are you handling the PEG channels and the other institutional channels?
TIBSHRANY: Well, fortunately we have very few demands for that. Let me give you an example, Jim. Our Columbia franchise requires that we have a governmental access channel and an educational access channel only. We have provided the city of Columbia with a channel; they program that channel.
KELLER: Did you provide the equipment, too?
TIBSHRANY: No, that was not part of our franchise agreement. We provide the school district here in Columbia with a channel and they program that channel. So we have not had to provide equipment. So the channels, the access channels and I-Net institutional networks, very costly – studio operations, staffing studio operations – and the consultants think that well, Time Warner Cable has a lot of money, just ask them for it and they’ll give it to you.
KELLER: Well, I’m glad somebody’s taking a stand. At least you don’t have to deal with the rate situation like you did in the past.
TIBSHRANY: Well, that’s true. We’re very pleased that Congress and the FCC have deregulated cable rates with the exception of those few communities that we have that are certified to regulate the lowest tier. We call it the broadcast tier.
KELLER: You could give that away.
TIBSHRANY: It’s, as you know, a low-priced tier.
KELLER: What are your major, if any, major problems with your communities?
TIBSHRANY: I don’t know of any major problems right now. The challenge, I’d like to put it as a challenge, will be the competition coming from the satellite services. That is formidable competition, even though we have a number of things and services that they do not have, we still respect them as competitors. Some of the things that we believe that we have that are unique are the high-speed data – Time Warner Cable’s Roadrunner high-speed internet service – we have video on-demand channels now, numerous video on-demand channels. Our customers can watch a program when the customer wants to watch it, can stop it, rewind it, fast forward it. They have the VCR functionality without a VCR.
KELLER: That’s just of rather recent origin, isn’t it, with the equipment?
TIBSHRANY: It is. In fact, we were the first cable system in the country, last year, last October, to launch HBO On-Demand. After working out software problems and upgrading software to handle the demand for the service, it’s operating very smoothly now.
KELLER: It couldn’t be done without the computer and computer chips. There have been a lot of tries and a lot of efforts that in the past have never worked.
TIBSHRANY: Sure. Jim, as I was speaking with you at lunch, now our new service that we just rolled out this week is a digital video recorder. It’s phenomenal.
KELLER: Would you hold on to that thought right now? I want to start the next tape on that basis. Bud, we were talking about the newest service that you’re offering right now in digitization of the channels. Tell us about that.
TIBSHRANY: Sure, the latest service that we’ve rolled out, in fact it was this week, is the digital video recorder. This is a phenomenal technology, a piece of equipment. It incorporates the digital converter box and is also a recorder. The customer can stop a live television program, a network program, rewind it, and resume where it left off, where it stopped, or hit the live button and go live again. For older television sets that do not have picture-in-picture, it will provide that for them. That’s a very simple procedure. This technology has also simplified recording of programs. There are two hard drives in this box and the customer merely goes to the guide channel, highlights the program that the customer wishes to record and presses the record button on the remote control, and that’s it. It’s done. It’s a very simple procedure to replay the program. You can tape more than one program simultaneously on different channels, so it has a lot of features.
KELLER: So you’ve just rolled out this service?
KELLER: What percentage of participation do you think you will have on this service?
TIBSHRANY: Well, it’s difficult to say at this point since this is brand new, as I say. We think it’s going to be very popular once some of the customers get the box in their homes, test it, and then word of mouth is going to be probably our strongest marketing tool.
KELLER: What percentage of your customers have a digital box now?
TIBSHRANY: We have about 50%, almost 50%, I think, of our customers do have one.
KELLER: Throughout the entire area?
TIBSHRANY: Throughout the entire area. It might be slightly under that.
KELLER: And those that don’t have a digital box are still using the old converters when they don’t have a cable-ready set, is that right?
TIBSHRANY: That’s correct. We have other converter boxes for those who do not wish to move up to the digital converter box.
KELLER: It’s amazing, isn’t it, that you saw the advent of the first 12 channel system here in… was that here in…?
TIBSHRANY: It was in South Carolina, in Florence.
KELLER: Florence. And that was an old Enron system?
TIBSHRANY: That was an old Enron system, vacuum tube-type amplifiers.
KELLER: The changes!
TIBSHRANY: Jim, I’m not that old!
KELLER: Nor am I! We’ve seen it all. Do you have amplifier monitoring in your systems?
TIBSHRANY: No, we do not. We do not. We have a very aggressive preventive maintenance program, and we may be moving into that direction.
KELLER: It’s not a very good situation to have to have your customers tell you when you have a problem.
TIBSHRANY: Right. Well, fortunately with the new fiber optic technology, we have minimized outages significantly and reduced the size of the customers affected by an outage by anywhere from 300-500 per hub site, as opposed to the more traditional architecture where thousands could be affected if an amplifier went out, as in the past.
KELLER: What special knowledge did you chief engineer and your technicians have to acquire to be able to introduce this digital piece of equipment that you’re now introducing?
TIBSHRANY: Well, I think that… our existing staff, actually, handled this. It took a lot of training on their part, and schooling on their part, going to conferences and working very closely with the manufacturers.
KELLER: Who is the manufacturer?
TIBSHRANY: Scientific Atlanta.
KELLER: Okay, so right down here, right down the road.
KELLER: How widespread is this at this time, do you know?
TIBSHRANY: The digital?
TIBSHRANY: Well, in our division, in the South Carolina division, all of our systems now have been upgraded to fiber optic technology and have access to digital.
KELLER: When you say upgraded, what kind of upgrading is required?
TIBSHRANY: We went, in some cases… we went to 750 megahertz systems, and in some of our communities it was like 350 megahertz, or 500 megahertz, so we are very proud of the advancements that we made in our distribution systems. Time Warner Cable made this commitment several years ago that every cable system in the United States owned by Time Warner Cable would be upgraded to at least 500 megahertz, or 750 megahertz within five years, and we were right on schedule. This was a mega-million or billion dollar project nationwide.
KELLER: How about signal compression? Is anyone using signal compression at this time to increase the number of channels?
TIBSHRANY: Well, as of now, we have several hundred channels to begin with. We have not tapped out, so we think that we’re well equipped to add more. We’ve been adding channels every few months.
KELLER: How many do you currently carry here in Columbia?
TIBSHRANY: We have at least 60 channels of now what we call the basic service. That’s actually an expanded basic service, and then we have at least 40-50 music channels. We have another 40 or more, 50 channels of digital and video on-demand channels. So we’ve got at least 200-300 channels right now.
KELLER: And do you ever get requests for something that you don’t have?
TIBSHRANY: Very seldom anymore, now with all the channels that we’ve added, but sure, you get a request every once in a while.
KELLER: Switching the topic just a little bit, almost as long as you’ve been in the business you’ve been involved not only in the association or liaison with the legislators and city councils and even the federal government, the FCC, Congress and so on, but you’ve also been very, very involved with and active in the South Carolina Association and other associations, as well as the Southern Association. Tell me about your activity in those areas.
TIBSHRANY: Well, I enjoyed very much my association with the Southern Association.
KELLER: You’re a past president, aren’t you?
TIBSHRANY: I’m a past president, vice-president, and secretary/treasurer of that association. This was many years ago when the Southern Association was a very small regional association. However, we were a close-knit group. We had a number of meetings each year, and the large meeting was the annual convention, which reminds me of when I was president, we were planning the convention for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I had received a phone call from a gentleman by the name of Ted Turner. Not many people had heard of Ted Turner back in those days. This was 1972, and he said, “Bud, I’m Ted Turner. I would like to meet some cable people and I understand you’re having a convention in Myrtle Beach, and I would like to get on your program, a panel, so that I can meet these people.” I told him, I said, “Mr. Turner, we’ve already filled the program, however we’ll see if we can work you into a slot,” and called him back and told him, yes, we could do that. He flew over to Myrtle Beach and was on the program. That was Ted Turner’s introduction to the cable industry, and to this day he remembers that Myrtle Beach meeting, and he’s used it in some of his speeches in past years. At that time, he owned a small TV station in Atlanta, WTCG, and he was serving a few cable systems by way of microwave relay in Georgia and possibly part of Alabama. So, as you know, Jim, what launched Ted Turner was the satellite and since then it was off to the races. He has been good to the cable industry, and the cable industry has been good to Ted Turner, I might add.
KELLER: It made him a billionaire, and I think the largest private landholder in the United States right now.
KELLER: He owns part of Montana, the largest part of Montana, and Colorado and New Mexico and Arizona, and here in South Carolina and Georgia.
TIBSHRANY: Sure. We used to stay in touch a pretty good bit, but he’s not as accessible as he used to be.
KELLER: Not with the way the stock is. He promised that billion dollars to the…
TIBSHRANY: United Nations.
KELLER: Our former senator from Colorado, Tim Wirth, is running that for him. I’m just wondering how long that’s going to be able to stay in existence. What were some of the problems that you faced as a southern association?
TIBSHRANY: Well, the Southern Association was primarily an opportunity to network with other cable operators at the various meetings we had, at the annual convention and so forth. We did not do any heavy lobbying per se as the Southern Association. Where that came into play was on the state association level.
KELLER: As well it should.
TIBSHRANY: Absolutely. And I’m a past president of the South Carolina Cable TV Association, so we get heavily involved in lobbying and Congress when it’s necessary to do that, and quite frankly we pay visits to our delegations when there’s not a fire going up there. We also lobby in the state legislature when it becomes necessary. I’m a registered lobbyist for the South Carolina Cable TV Association, so I do some voluntary work for the association. I assist NCTA when called upon to lobby Congress or to speak with Senator Hollings or Senator Thurman, or any of the members of our legislative delegation.
KELLER: Have you ever had any bills introduced that would provide for cable being a public utility, or under the control of the state public utility commission?
TIBSHRANY: I do not recall a bill, per se. Years ago there was some discussion about that, but nothing materialized. We’ve had a bill introduced that would allow the municipalities to get in the cable business. It is unconstitutional for them to do that now.
KELLER: In South Carolina?
TIBSHRANY: In South Carolina. That was a ruling by the Supreme Court several years ago.
KELLER: Was there a case brought to them specific to that?
TIBSHRANY: Yes, the city of Orangeburg was trying to get into the cable business, and the former cable operator there, Jones Intercable, and some former entrepreneurs, former cable operators, filed a suit, and it went all the way… of course the South Carolina Cable TV Association was heavily involved in that, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court ruled that…
KELLER: The state?
TIBSHRANY: State Supreme Court ruled that cities did not have the authority to get in the cable business, and that was sort of a narrow type of ruling that they could not use recreational funds to construct cable systems. So the only way to remedy that would be through legislation. The bill was introduced last session and did not pass. So we believe that it’s going to be…
KELLER: I’m not sure that I understood that. The bill was to prohibit cities from getting into the business, and to widen that additional decision from the Supreme Court?
TIBSHRANY: The bill is to allow municipalities to get into the cable business, and we don’t think it’s going to pass but I would be naïve if I said that the bill is not going to be introduced at the next session, next state legislative session, that begins in January.
KELLER: What is the motivation behind somebody introducing a bill like that, or is it from this particular community?
TIBSHRANY: It is. The state senator is from Orangeburg, South Carolina. He feels that if there was a competing cable company there that the rates would be lower.
KELLER: He’s got to be a democrat.
TIBSHRANY: I believe he is, as a matter of fact. So we are in the education process now. We have a lot of information, we have a very good argument, a lot of case studies that have been done around the country where there is direct competition. As you know, Jim, there have not been many situations where that has been successful.
KELLER: Frankfurt, Kentucky, I think is one of them. There are a couple of places where there have been successful municipally-owned systems, but very few.
KELLER: Very few. And usually they are not competing against anyone else because a reasonably good system can about put a municipal system out of business.
TIBSHRANY: Right, exactly. And the incumbent cable operator, if it’s worth its salt, is not going to allow a competitor to come in and take its customers. I know Time Warner will do whatever it takes to maintain our investment, to protect our investment, and to maintain our customers.
KELLER: Have any communities in South Carolina required the direct satellite people to get a local franchise?
TIBSHRANY: No, and this is something that is of great concern to us, in that we have to pay franchise fees, we have to adhere to franchise regulations, and they’re able to extract revenue from their customers in South Carolina and not have to pay any of these taxes. The cable association, the South Carolina Cable Association is looking at that right now, and may introduced legislation whereby they would have to pay a tax, as was the case in North Carolina last year. They passed legislation.
KELLER: I wasn’t aware of that. They did pass legislation?
TIBSHRANY: They did pass legislation, they sure did.
KELLER: So in North Carolina, the satellite operators have to pay a tax?
TIBSHRANY: Pay a tax, that’s right.
KELLER: To the state?
TIBSHRANY: That’s correct.
KELLER: But not to the city.
TIBSHRANY: No, not to the city.
KELLER: I’m surprised the cities haven’t jumped on this.
TIBSHRANY: They have an advantage from that standpoint.
KELLER: Well, yes, no question about that.
TIBSHRANY: Whereas if we could remove the… not pay the taxes that we’re having to pay, customers’ bills would be lower.
KELLER: Well, they claim they don’t need a franchise because they’re not using any public rights-of-way. If that is the rationale for a franchise then that’s been controversial and disputed for a lot of years anyhow.
TIBSHRANY: I know, I know, but they still contend that.
KELLER: Yes, and I’m not sure that is the basis for franchise from our business standpoint.
TIBSHRANY: Well, you know, we construct our cable in a large percentage of the areas where there are not public rights-of-way – back lot easements or side lot easements, utility easements, and so forth, where we had the right to be, and yet we continue to pay the franchise fee to the city on all of it, the entire system, gross revenues from the entire system.
KELLER: By state law do you have the right to get on the utility easements?
TIBSHRANY: By federal law we do.
KELLER: But the state hasn’t passed anything?
TIBSHRANY: No, I’m not aware of any legislation, per se.
KELLER: I can remember a time when the utility companies wouldn’t allow cities to have the rights-of-way.
TIBSHRANY: Yeah, if it’s a dedicated public utility, we believe we have the right to use it.
KELLER: I think that’s true. How about the access into major apartment units, multiple units?
TIBSHRANY: At this point we do not have legislation that gives us access to a multi-unit dwelling complex.
KELLER: Federal money.
TIBSHRANY: Well, that’s something that we are looking hard at right now.
KELLER: So you’ve got your work cut out for you then.
TIBSHRANY: Oh, absolutely. There’s never a dull moment. That’s why I’m still in this business.
KELLER: You didn’t want to retire yet.
TIBSHRANY: Golf is great, but there is only so much golf you can play every week.
KELLER: In your very early days in the business, and of course we’ve seen many, many changes in the business over the years, we just talked about the newest pieces of technology that have come into the business, what did you see as a major – outside of the satellite signals coming into the systems, the HBOs and the other programming services coming via satellite – what other things did you see in your 35 years that were a major contribution to the development of the industry?
TIBSHRANY: Well, you touched on it, the launch of the satellites, the first satellite, the RCA Satcom satellite. Prior to that time, we had nothing unique to market. We were building cable systems in rural areas, putting 600-foot towers up, gigantic antennas on those towers, quad stack antennas, just to pick up TV stations from distant cities to provide full network television coverage in those communities. So I would have to rate the launch of the first satellite as probably the biggest thing that has happened to get cable moving, particularly in the big markets. Also, the cross-ownership rules, the former cross-ownership rules prevented cable from coming into Columbia for many years because the Cosmos Cablevision was based here, Cosmos Broadcasting based here, so they could not own a cable system and a television station in the same market. There were a number of other things, but I think I would have to say the launch of the satellites.
KELLER: Well, I don’t think there is any question about that, but involved with that then came the copyright situation.
KELLER: What was your take on that? Even today, even after it’s been all settled and everything there are some people who say we never should have had to pay copyright.
TIBSHRANY: Well, that’s true, and as I recall, Jim, the Supreme Court had ruled that we were not liable for that, however in the interest of a harmonious resolution to this with the broadcasters, the cable industry did agree to paying a copyright fee.
KELLER: After many, many battles, interior battles.
TIBSHRANY: Absolutely. It was very painful, and that’s what happened. Sure, we could have stuck to our guns and said, no, we’re not going to pay it.
KELLER: We wouldn’t be the industry we are today if we hadn’t agreed to pay it.
TIBSHRANY: No. We were called pirates, you heard that term many times, by the broadcasters and other industries back then.
KELLER: By the film industry.
TIBSHRANY: Sure, Jack Valenti and his group.
KELLER: Oh, yeah. We were anathema to everybody at that time and I think paying the copyright fees did kind of ease that situation and solve many of those problems.
TIBSHRANY: Well, it did. It did.
KELLER: Did you have any specific association with that problem as far as your business at the time that you had to pay copyright or didn’t pay copyright?
TIBSHRANY: No, we just did what we had to do, and complied with the regulation.
KELLER: You’ve worked for a number of companies over the years – Cyprus, Cosmos, you worked in conjunction with Cox, Wometco, Time Warner now – you’ve met a variety of people, you’ve been working under various types of companies small and large. Do you prefer where you are right now with the association that you have? Of course, you’re not going to say different!
TIBSHRANY: Jim, I’ll say that I’m very pleased with Time Warner Cable for a number of reasons. One is that this company is the leader in cable technology and it’s exciting every day to get up and go into the office and see what’s new. It’s unraveling and evolving almost on a daily basis, and yet I must say that my association with some of the other employers was very good, too, and you mentioned Burt Harris – a real class act – Milton Lewis with Wometco, and so forth, and Alan Gerry, and Dave Testa with CVI, all these are great people.
TIBSHRANY: CVI, Cablevision Industries, which was acquired by Time Warner Cable.
KELLER: Did you have any association with any of the joint venture systems that Time Warner has with the Newhouse Broadcasting people?
TIBSHRANY: No, we have some franchises that are in the name of “TWIaN”, we call it. But, no, that’s as far as it goes.
KELLER: You still have some franchises?
KELLER: You haven’t tried to change the name of it?
TIBSHRANY: Well, not yet.
KELLER: So you still do have your work cut out for you, don’t you?
TIBSHRANY: Right, sure.
KELLER: If you go into the office tomorrow and for some reason the mayor were to approach you and say, “Bud, I think we’re going to allow a second franchise in here,” what would you say?
TIBSHRANY: I would say first of all, mayor, make sure that it’s a qualified applicant, and that the franchise that the city council would grant would be comparable to ours, a level playing field, the same requirements that we have to adhere to. We have that provision in all of our franchise proposals, and then I would say that we do not object to competition, as long as it’s fair competition. We have a situation in South Carolina now, two situations, as a matter of fact, where this is going on. In the county around Myrtle Beach we have some competition there, direct competition. Down in Summerville, South Carolina…
KELLER: Dual lines?
TIBSHRANY: Yes. Summerville, South Carolina we have a company that has overbuilt our company in that area, as well as is overbuilding Comcast. Comcast has the franchise in the city of Charleston.
KELLER: Have you ever had any competition from or with or against the power company coming into the business?
TIBSHRANY: We have not. There was discussion about ten years ago about the local power company getting into the business, but they chose not to do that.
KELLER: They were in the bus business!
TIBSHRANY: Exactly, and now they’re out of it, which they’re very please about.
KELLER: I bet they are. If, and this would never happen I’m sure, but if something developed that there would be a major change of management at AOL Time Warner – and of course they’re constantly going through various permutations of management over there – and they told you general managers and operators at separate divisions that something had to be done that you disagreed with, how would you handle that?
TIBSHRANY: Well, we’re not hesitant to voice our opinions. At the same time, we recognize that AOL Time Warner is our parent company, and we first would broach such a situation with our division president. Here in South Carolina he is Wayne Knighton, an outstanding individual and a very good manager. So, he’s the division president for South Carolina. We could only go so far, needless to say, if the corporate office establishes a policy that we don’t agree with. I’m sure there are policies today that we don’t necessarily agree with, but we certainly have to adhere to them.
KELLER: It could be a possibility, there’s always shakeup at top management, and it’s also a possibility that in certain areas, AOL Time Warner, or Time Warner Cable, is trading out their franchises or their operations with other companies to come in and consolidate many of their operations. Do you see any of that developing here?
TIBSHRANY: Not here. We have been more in the acquisition mode. We have acquired the system in Orangeburg from Jones Intercable. We acquired the system in Myrtle Beach from Cox Cable, and the system which is right below Myrtle Beach in Surfside Beach from Jones Intercable.
KELLER: That was wiped out by a hurricane not too many years ago.
TIBSHRANY: Well, Hurricane Hugo came through there but fortunately… yeah, Surfside and Garden City got hit real hard. Myrtle Beach did not. It’s amazing, they’re right next door to each other.
KELLER: You operated in Tennessee as well as South Carolina, although your major experience has been here in South Carolina. Did you find anything different in operating in Tennessee as opposed to operating down here?
TIBSHRANY: I would have to say yes because of the condition of the cable system that was there at the time, and it was in very poor condition.
KELLER: That was in Kingsport?
TIBSHRANY: That was in Kingsport. Everything that you could think of that could go wrong with a cable company, a cable system, was there at that time. Cyprus Communications inherited this system when they acquired it from a former owner, that being United Telephone Company. So I spent 2 ½ years working about 12 hours a day to get that situation turned down. The city council was about to revoke the franchise. Technically speaking we had amplifier cascades 54 amplifiers deep going into Virginia, which was across the line there not far from Kingsport. We had a headend that we in the worst place it could ever be under high power lines, transmission lines. Customer service was not good, you name it. But fortunately 2 ½ years later we were able to turn that situation around and in fact we started receiving compliments from the city council and the customers.
KELLER: Did you ever have any run-ins with our former vice-president when he was in the Senate?
TIBSHRANY: No, I didn’t because he was in west Tennessee, and that fiasco started, as you recall Jim, in west Tennessee. But no, we did not.
KELLER: It’s an interesting situation. Our congressman in Denver, who probably was one of the most populist democrats in the country named Patty Schroeder…
TIBSHRANY: Yes, I’ve heard her speak.
KELLER: She said to me one day, “Jim, I’ve been your friend,” and she has, after her first term in Congress was our friend, she said, “You have to look out for this guy, Al Gore. He’s going to use this as his stepping stone,” and he did.
TIBSHRANY: Well, he did a job on the industry.
KELLER: Yes, he did.
TIBSHRANY: And then, of course that was an election year in ’92 and all the senators and congressmen jumped on that bandwagon.
KELLER: It was a real populist movement.
TIBSHRANY: Senator Hollings was amenable to working out a bill that would be a compromise bill, however at the 11th hour for whatever reasons there were, NCTA decided that it wanted no bill. Knowing Senator Hollings as well as I do, and I’d met with him, spoke with him a lot, he and some of the other senators said, well, if that’s your approach then we will do what we have to do.
KELLER: That was not the first time that the industry did that to the senator. That story in 1960 I remember very, very well.
TIBSHRANY: Yes, and it was not handled well, either.
KELLER: Mooney handled that, at that time?
KELLER: That’s why he’s no longer there. You didn’t have any direct association, then, with the vice-president, or he was a senator at that time.
TIBSHRANY: No, I had none. Not at all. We mainly focused on our delegation. Senator Hollings, Senator Thurman, when Senator Thurman was more active. He’s an amazing man. He will be turning 100 years old in December, and will be stepping down. However, every time – I want to point this out – every time we went to see Senator Thurman, we had an appointment, he would always see us, very accessible.
KELLER: You’ve had some experience in quite a few major markets, I’ll put that term in quotes, “major markets”, in Chattanooga, in Columbia, in Charlotte. What is the major difference to operating in a large community as opposed to a small community?
TIBSHRANY: Well, I think that difference has been narrowed over the years as a result of relaxation of some of the federal regulations. It can be more costly to construct cable in some of the larger markets, depending on the infrastructure requirements.
KELLER: Similar to San Francisco.
TIBSHRANY: Yes, so you certainly know. But I don’t know… it’s a lot more volume, it’s an accelerated mode of operation more so for marketing and everything you do, as compared to the smaller systems, a lot more demands brought to bear on the cable company from the community, and our company is very big on being a good corporate citizen. We do a lot in the way of sponsorships and contributions.
KELLER: Tell me some of the things you do.
TIBSHRANY: We support numerous organizations such as the Boy Scouts, the Salvation Army, the United Way, the Cultural Council. We hold an annual charity golf tournament every year and the proceeds go to a selected charity, and we do a lot of volunteerism. We’re on numerous boards, and we don’t do that just in Columbia. We try to do this in the majority of the communities in which we operate.
KELLER: You may not make it a requirement, but do you strongly suggest that your local managers become involved in community efforts?
TIBSHRANY: Absolutely, and fortunately we don’t have to strongly suggest it because they volunteer to do that.
KELLER: They’re good managers.
TIBSHRANY: Yes, they are.
KELLER: Would you prefer to operate in a major market or in a smaller market?
TIBSHRANY: Well, I started out in the smaller markets and I enjoyed it from the standpoint of knowing everybody, knowing most of the people in the communities, and that was good, however to answer your question, I prefer to operate in a larger market. I think there are more opportunities, more things that you can do, and normally new technology is rolled out in the larger markets before they are in the smaller markets.
KELLER: Our industry is one of the very few, if not the only one, that grew up in the small markets and then came into the larger ones.
TIBSHRANY: Absolutely, and as you recall, Jim, the name of the NCTA was National Community Antenna Association.
KELLER: I remember it well. The smaller operators now, and they’re becoming fewer and fewer now, are still trying to make an impact throughout the country and have banded together in various ways, one of which is the purchasing power that they have.
TIBSHRANY: Yes, well, the financial demands on a cable company now as far as being able to deploy the technology that we’re deploying is just tremendous. In South Carolina, Time Warner Cable has spent well over 100 million dollars during that five year period that I mentioned to upgrade the systems. Here in the Columbia area alone, we spent about 54-55 million.
KELLER: Are the papers, television stations, the city officials aware that this amount of money has been spent?
TIBSHRANY: Absolutely, yes they are.
KELLER: Again, that’s part of your job.
TIBSHRANY: Every opportunity we have we try to make them aware of it.
KELLER: Do you get cooperation from the newspapers?
TIBSHRANY: Yes, we have a very good relationship with the newspapers, as we do with the media.
KELLER: Well, you advertise extensively. I’m not saying that there’s a direct correlation.
TIBSHRANY: No, there’s not.
KELLER: Where are you going to go from here? Where’s the industry going to go?
TIBSHRANY: Well, that’s hard to say. I think with the additional capacity that we now have as far as adding more channels, you’ll see more channels added. As far as what’s the next technological device that’s going to come out, it’s hard to imagine what that’s going to be. So I think what we’re going to have to do is we’re going to have to do an even better job in our marketing efforts because we know there’s competition there, and focus even more so on customer service and training of our employees. I didn’t mention this earlier, but I really want to emphasize that customer service is king in our business. In fact, we participate in the “On-time guarantee”, whereas if we don’t show up on time for an installation, we waive the installation charge. If we don’t show up on time for a service call, we will credit our customers’ account.
KELLER: What’s the time? 2 hours?
TIBSHRANY: We have 4-hour blocks. We have morning, 4 hours, afternoon, 4 hours, and so far we haven’t had to waive many installation charges or give customer credits, I’m pleased to say. That’s not to say that some things don’t fall through the cracks because they do, but we try to correct that when it does. Employee training is very big in our company. Back in the days when I started, Jim, we would hire an installer, give him a couple days, he’d ride with another installer for a couple days, next thing you know he’s up there climbing poles and putting cable in. We would hire a customer service representative, let her sit with another customer service representative for two days, and then she’s on the phones. That’s not going to happen anymore. Our services are so complicated now. They array of channels, the array of advanced services, that we put every new employee through a two week comprehensive training class, and we have a full-time training manager, and we have a training staff as well as the manager. We retrain existing employees, and they have to be trained every time a new service comes out, so that when they speak to the customer they’re speaking intelligently and then can assist them.
KELLER: Who trains the trainers?
TIBSHRANY: Well, management does, absolutely. So we’re very proud of that.
KELLER: Do you ever take a survey of your customers as to what they like, what they don’t like.
TIBSHRANY: We have done that, we have done that on occasion. Our corporate office also surveys regionally, and we benefit from the results from that, as well.
KELLER: Do you have an exit questionnaire, I’m going to say, if somebody calls in and says I want to disconnect. Do you ask them questions as to why they’re disconnecting?
TIBSHRANY: Absolutely. We don’t just accept their request to disconnect without digging very deeply to see why they want to disconnect, and if there’s something that we’ve done to cause them to be disenchanted, then we’re going to do everything we can to change that situation.
KELLER: Do you keep statistics on why they’re disconnecting?
TIBSHRANY: Our operations department does, certainly, and management takes a hard look at that.
KELLER: You would know how many you lost to the satellite distributors.
TIBSHRANY: Sure, oh, we have to have that. We monitor telephone call activity very closely – how long it takes to answer a phone, how long the customer is on hold, and that is monitored by management as well.
KELLER: Do you have a central facility for your customer service people for your collection of payments and so on in one place all over the state?
TIBSHRANY: We have offices throughout our service areas, however our main office is here in Columbia on Greystone Blvd., and that’s where our division headquarters is also, but we have about four other offices in Columbia where customers can go, as well.
KELLER: And then they’re tied together by computer then, as well.
TIBSHRANY: Yes, yes.
KELLER: And if someone down in say, Myrtle Beach, were making a payment they wouldn’t send it in to Columbia? They’d make it in Myrtle Beach.
TIBSHRANY: No, we have a lockbox arrangement, and customer payments go into a lockbox system.
KELLER: Throughout the…
TIBSHRANY: Throughout the division, right.
KELLER: And then that is collected every so often, or does it go directly to the bank?
TIBSHRANY: It goes right into the bank and then we receive the backup of the documentation.
KELLER: How often do you transmit the revenue back to the corporate headquarters?
TIBSHRANY: I’ll be honest with you, I do not know the answer to that question, and that’s something that our finance handles.
KELLER: You have a chief financial officer in Columbia?
TIBSHRANY: Oh, yes, we have a vice-president of finance, a vice-president of engineering, a vice-president of human resources, and a vice-president of marketing, and last but not least, a vice-president of public affairs.
KELLER: And that would be?
TIBSHRANY: You know who that is – yours truly!
KELLER: Who is heading up Time Warner Cable now in Stamford, Connecticut?
TIBSHRANY: Glenn Britt is up there. We don’t, again since we are more of an autonomous operation, we deal mainly with our division president, Wayne Knighton, so we are very fortunate in that regard in that even major decisions are made by our local division, and our division officers and division president. John Bickham is our executive vice-president who we report to, this division reports to.
KELLER: He’s in Stamford?
TIBSHRANY: He’s in Stamford, yes. There are a number of EVPs, we call them, but John is over our division and some other divisions.
KELLER: Who were some of the people that you remember who had a major impact on your development in the industry?
TIBSHRANY: Jim, I think I’d have to go back to the beginning, and that would be Richard Shaftow, who I mentioned earlier was president of Cosmos Cablevision and president of Cosmos Broadcasting. He was a disciplinarian, he was a stickler for excellence, and he taught the cable managers that early on whatever you did be sure to do it right the first time. Other friends in the industry, Frank and Mason Hamilton, Henry Harris, who you spoke about today, Doug Talbot, Bill Pitney, Otto Miller, we can just go on and on, and Polly Dunn, of course. Polly was known as the matriarch of the Southern Cable Association from Mississippi, just a wonderful lady.
KELLER: She is now in the Hall of Fame, The Cable Television Hall of Fame.
TIBSHRANY: Absolutely, an outstanding person.
KELLER: Five years from now, ten years from now, maybe you’ll be retired, maybe you’ll be out on the golf course, what do you think will be coming through that cable?
TIBSHRANY: Well, I think it’s safe to say that the customer will be able to receive, in addition to broadband cable and high-speed internet services, telephone service as well, bundled services. I believe that’s going to be key in the future.
KELLER: Do you expect to get into the telephony business?
TIBSHRANY: We have no immediate plans to do that. Time Warner has a subsidiary by the name of TW Telecomm that’s operating in Columbia now, and it markets long-distance service and local service to businesses.
KELLER: Not over your cable, though?
TIBSHRANY: No, they have their own fiber.
KELLER: They put their own fiber system in.
KELLER: Bud, I think this is a place where we can wrap this up unless you have anything else you think we haven’t covered that maybe we should be talking about.
TIBSHRANY: No, I’m just very excited that The Cable Center and Museum selected me to be interviewed. It’s quite an honor for me, and I appreciate it very much. It’s been a pleasure being with you today.
KELLER: The honor is ours. This has been the oral history of Bud M. TIBSHRANY, currently the vice-president of public affairs for the South Carolina division of Time Warner Cable. This interview is a direct function of the Gustave Hauser Foundation, who provided a grant to enable us to do these oral history interviews. This interview will be available on The Cable Center’s website in the very near future. I can’t say exactly when. Bud, it’s been a great pleasure talking with you.
TIBSHRANY: The pleasure was mine.
KELLER: Thank you, sir.
TIBSHRANY: Thank you.