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Cable Technology Feature Article

March 15, 2011

Former FCC Chairman, Michael Powell, Named President and CEO of NCTA

By Carrie Schmelkin, TMCnet Web Editor

In addition to listing Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) chairman from 2001 to 2005 and member of the FCC for eight years to his resume, Michael K. Powell can add president and chief executive officer of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to his list of accomplishments as well.

“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 of Cox (News - Alert) Communications, in a statement.  “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.”

In his new role, Powell will work to defend the cable industry as he works with the United Sates Congress, the FCC and other federal agencies. Powell, who will begin his tenure at NCTA on April 25, will follow in the footsteps of outgoing NCTA President-CEO Kyle McSlarrow, who was recently named president of Comcast/NBC Universal (News - Alert), Washington.

Powell, who is currently a senior adviser with Providence Equity Partners and honorary co-chair of Broadband for America, will also be tasked with managing the association’s staff, programs and initiatives. He will serve as a strategic voice on the direction of the industry.

“Cable is a dynamic and highly innovative industry, providing cutting edge services and content that Americans love,” Powell said.  “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 in important areas such as education.”

Powell has already firsthand witnessed how “dynamic” the industry is as he has already seen change and marketplace growth in the telecommunications sector during his tenure at the FCC. He has worked to bring FCC regulations into the 21st century and to recognize the move of voice, video, and data technologies away from limited analog platforms to powerful digital applications that bring more value to the public, according to NCTA.  During his tenure he honed his efforts into promoting consumer interests by creating market-driven solutions. He also lent his support to technologies that would expand affordable broadband options to all Americans regardless of their geography.

In 2005, Powell shared his insights at TMC’s ITEXPO. At the time, TMC (News - Alert) CEO Rich Tehrani said he could think of no other person who better understands the “impact of broadband telephony on the global economy more than Michael Powell.”

“Under his watch we have witnessed a tremendous number of communications innovations and he presided over the FCC at a time when VoIP really began to change the competitive landscape of telecommunications,” Tehrani added. “His influence will be felt throughout the FCC and will be perceptible in its decisions regarding VoIP and telecom for the foreseeable future.”

While his contributions to FCC are uncontested, he will also be sorely missed at his current workplace, Providence Equity Partners, according to company officials.

“Michael is an outstanding individual who brings great commitment and integrity to his work, whether in public or private service,” said Jonathan Nelson, CEO, Providence Equity Partners.  “While he will be missed here at Providence, where we share his passionate interest in media and communications, we know he will serve NCTA members extremely well.”

This past February, former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin spoke at ITEXPO Miami. One of the main reasons he was chosen to speak, according to Tehrani, was because FCC chairmen are the best speakers when they are no longer actively chairmen.

“Only then do you get any insight on their positions on various matters. I learned this when FCC Chairman Michael Powell gave a great keynote to ITEXPO (News - Alert) attendees a few years back and was able to speak freely,” Tehrani said.

Be sure to check out ITEXPO West 2011 taking place September 13-15 in Austin.

Carrie Schmelkin is a Web Editor for TMCnet. Previously, she worked as Assistant Editor at the New Canaan Advertiser, a 102-year-old weekly newspaper, covering news and enhancing the publication's social media initiatives. Carrie holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in English from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee