Michael Powell takes over the helm at NCTA


As reported, the next President/CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association is Michael Powell, former Chairman of the FCC and son of former general and secretary of state Colin Powell.

Powell was appointed to the Commission by Bill Clinton in 1997, and served as the chair from 2001 through 2005. He replaces Kyle McSlarrow, who moved on to an executive position with Comcast/NBCUniversal.

Powell said “Cable is a dynamic and highly innovative industry, providing cutting edge services and content that Americans love. The broadband platform the industry has deployed is a critical part of the infrastructure needed to realize our national ambition to be a great nation in the Information Age. I am excited to help lead companies committed not only to their businesses, but to improving U.S. competitiveness and supporting invaluable programs.”

“Michael Powell is one of the most well respected and influential visionaries in all of telecommunications, and we’re so proud to have him join the cable team,” said Patrick J. Esser, Chair of the NCTA Board of Directors and President, Cox Communications.  “Michael’s exemplary record of leadership, deep commitment to public service, and vast insight into public policy make him an ideal fit to lead our industry in Washington, D.C., as we address the regulatory challenges that lie ahead and continue to help policy makers understand cable’s commitment to jobs, investment, and innovation.”

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell had the quickest PR trigger finger on the 8th Floor. He said, “I congratulate my friend, Michael Powell, on taking over the helm of NCTA. I have known him since he first became a commissioner in 1997. Whether serving at the Commission both as a commissioner and as chairman; advising the investment community; leading the board of our shared alma mater, William and Mary; practicing law; or serving in uniform with distinction, Michael has always exhibited the best attributes of leadership. His intellect and vision will serve NCTA and its members well as the cable industry faces increasing competitive and regulatory challenges. I look forward to working with him in his new capacity.”

NAB’s President/CEO Gordon Smtih, who now enters into colleague status with Powell, also weighed in, saying, “NAB salutes the NCTA for its outstanding choice of former FCC Chairman Michael Powell as its new president and CEO. I got to know Michael well during my tenure on the Senate Commerce Committee, and always found him to be thoughtful, engaging and a tremendous public servant. Though NAB and NCTA do not always agree on every issue, we look forward to working with Michael in the months ahead on public policy issues where we might find mutual agreement.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Powell is best known in broadcasting circles for his attempt to ease the rules governing media ownership. A few of his proposals made it into the books, most notably measuring the size of radio station clusters in terms of Arbitron markets rather than the old contour overlap method (which is still in use in unmeasured areas).

But the fact that most of his proposals are still in dispute tells you all you need to know about the glacial pace that can overcome an issue as it bounces from agencies to Congress to the courts.