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Former FCC Chair Named Top Cable Lobbyist

Late-breaking news that former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell will lead the cable industry's trade association heads today's industry roundup.

  • The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has found a successor to Kyle McSlarrow and, no, it's not Kevin Martin. Cable's chief lobbying arm has appointed Michael Powell its new president and CEO. Powell, who served as chairman of the FCC from 2001 to 2005 and starts his new gig on April 25, takes over from McSlarrow, who was recently named president of the Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)/NBCUniversal LLC ops in Washington. (See NCTA Taps Powell as President & CEO, Kevin Martin's Greatest Hits and NCTA Chief to Join Comcast/NBCU.)

    During his tenure at the FCC, Powell, the son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, played a key role in keeping cable modem services classified under the less stringent Title I (information services) banner. Powell takes the reins at NCTA as the industry deals with the FCC's new (but challenged) net neutrality rules, the execution of its National Broadband plan, possible retrans reform, and the specter of "AllVid" rules that could prove especially troublesome for cable. (See FCC Reexamines Retrans Rules, Cable: FCC's AllVid Goes Too Far and Net Neutrality Rules in Jeopardy.)

  • CNN is the first Turner Broadcasting or Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX)-owned network to launch a "TV Everywhere" app that lets cable subscribers watch live video on mobile devices. (See Q&A: Jeremy Legg, VP, Turner Broadcasting .)

  • While Turner will carry live March Madness games on TruTV through its deal with CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), it hasn't yet built an interactive TV app for the Big Dance. (See CBS, Turner to Stream March Madness to the iPad.)

  • With a 61 percent share of the digital movie business, Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) is crushing all rivals, according to NPD Group Inc. data. Comcast is second, with an 8 percent cut. (See Netflix Fears by-the-Byte Tiers .)

  • More changes up top at BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND), as Ran Oz, a company founder, steps down from the board and as CTO. Oz, who is reducing his role in order to spend more time with his family, stays on to advise the CEO and BigBand's tech strategy. SVP of Corporate Development and Strategic Planning Rajive Dhar says there is no immediate plan to hire a new CTO, but that the Office of The CTO, currently made up of three execs, will report to him. BigBand also appointed Erez Rosen to its board. (See BigChanges at BigBand .)

  • As U.S. pay-TV providers deploy set-tops with software that can track the viewing history of subscribers, look for them to add recommendation engines to interactive program guides like the one Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) rolled out for its IPTV service.

  • Warning that corporate content will rule the Web without net neutrality, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn) told the South by Southwest confab to fight to "keep the Internet weird. Let's keep the Internet free." (See Net Neutrality Rules in Jeopardy.)

  • Comcast is using casual computer games to try to teach subscribers how to navigate its TV Everywhere site and its iPad app.

    — Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable, and Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:10:21 PM
    re: Former FCC Chair Named Top Cable Lobbyist

    Can't think of a less impresive individual off the top of my head. The cable lobby must be desperate to have someone who was formerly seen as a telecom toadie.

    DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:10:20 PM
    re: Former FCC Chair Named Top Cable Lobbyist

    Great point. He does seem to have a good connection to today's FCC.


    SteveDonohue 12/5/2012 | 5:10:20 PM
    re: Former FCC Chair Named Top Cable Lobbyist

    It may show how big a deal the cable lobby thinks net neutrality and other issues on the FCC's plate will be. Powell seems to get along well with the current commission. 


    PICturethis 12/5/2012 | 5:10:19 PM
    re: Former FCC Chair Named Top Cable Lobbyist

    I could not agree with you more Phil.  Oh how I enjoyed hearing Howard Stern absolutely dominate MP live on air back in what 2004?  Actually I just listened to the clip again.  Classic.


    DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:10:19 PM
    re: Former FCC Chair Named Top Cable Lobbyist

    I remember that Stern call. It was a classic ambush and Stern chased Powell right off the air.

    If we recall all that was going wrong with competition in media and the fact that the US had no broadband agenda, it seems Powell was largely at the FCC to train as a dinner speaker.


    rzerockzeron 12/5/2012 | 5:10:18 PM
    re: Former FCC Chair Named Top Cable Lobbyist

    cna you post the interview link? thanks

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