Cable TV operators must repair damaged relations with Washington if they are to survive and prosper, National Cable TV Assn. president James Mooney said Monday.

“This industry needs to make peace with the political system,” said Mooney, speaking at the opening session at the NCTA convention.

“However badly or unfairly we think we’ve been treated … we’ve got to show ourselves to be open, generous and constructive participants in the process.”

Mooney conceded the industry is in a “helluva lousy fix” in D.C., where Congress last year passed a massive reregulation bill and where the FCC has ordered cable rate rollbacks of up to 15% nationwide.

Mooney said cable’s tarnished image can be refurbished. “By reaching out, we can heal whatever scars we bear in Congress,” he said. “In politics there are always the ‘ins’ and the ‘outs,’ but there are no permanent ‘outs’ unless the ‘outs’ themselves make it so.”

Despite Mooney’s call for an extended olive branch, the NCTA head couldn’t resist a shot at both Congress and the Federal Communications Commission.

The rereg bill went “far beyond any reasonable assessment of cable’s problems ,” Mooney said. FCC rate regulation is “so complex that it may yet strangle itself in its own internal contradictions.”

Mooney called on cable industry employees to “do everything humanly possible” in urging the FCC to “make sense out of what is an unsensible regulatory scheme.”

The emphasis, said Mooney, “ought to be on pragmatic livability” with the FCC rules because the “opportunity for pain avoidance is long gone.”