Wonder Women talk up cable at huddle

Org honors a dozen cable femmes

Aside from thanks to mothers, husbands and assorted mentors, several of the Wonder Women honorees in the cable biz took lighthearted but pointed swipes at their telco competish during a luncheon Tuesday in Gotham.

The 12 execs were being feted for their achievements and influence in the cable biz at the sixth such event co-sponsored by Women in Cable & Telecommunications and Multichannel News.

“Though we frequently need to wear body armor in our negotiations, and the telcos are wooing you with promises of fiber,” Charter Communications exec VP Sue Ann Hamilton quipped, “remember we’re the ones who brought you to the dance.”

Cable, she concluded, has the key to “an enduring union.”

Another honoree, Cablevision exec VP Patricia Gottesman, told the 1,000-odd attendees the Wall Street Journal’s story Tuesday about telcos putting major pressure on the cable biz simply needed to take “a broader perspective.” Cable operators, she suggested, were a much better partner for programmers than the upstart phone companies.

Another honoree was Comcast VP Rebecca Schilingo, who was singled out for her efforts heading that company’s efforts on video-on-demand, from its origins as a “skunkworks” project to its key place in Comcast’s overall arsenal of services.

Chatter among invited guests also centered around AT&T’s move to amalgamate with Bell South — a deal that’s sending shockwaves through the industry.

Most of the other Wonder Women recipients came up through the programming ranks, and several of them focused their remarks on the need to balance family life and career goals.

“You know you’ve had a bad day when you put the dirty clothes to bed and your kids in the hamper,” ESPN exec veep-chief financial officer Christine Driessen half-joked.

“I mostly talk on the phone, play on the computer and watch a lot of TV — that’s why my 7-year-old daughter is already campaigning for my job!” said WE exec veep Kim Martin.

Reminding the audience how much things had changed since the 1970s, emcee and “Inside Edition” anchor Deborah Norville pointed out that until 1972 and the FCC’s reg on diversity, it was mostly about “keeping the broads out of broadcasting.”

The cable biz, on the other hand, has a long history of supporting and advancing women through the ranks.

Honoree Lori MacFarling, a senior VP at Discovery Networks, said 60% of middle management at her company is now female, with women making up almost 50% of senior management.

Now it’s about opening the door for other, younger women, she and others said.

Other honorees were Carat VP Shari Anne Brill, Lifetime exec VP Louise Henry Bryson, Time Warner Cable corporate exec VP Carol Hevey, MTV prexy Christina Norman, Fox News exec producer Suzanne Scott and Sun Sports Net VP-general manager Cathy Weeden.

Sharing the emcee honors with Norville were Court TV anchor Ashley Banfield and MSNBC anchor Rita Crosby.

Like Daily Variety, Multichannel News belongs to Anglo-Dutch conglom Reed Elsevier.