Cable Pioneer Kenneth Gunter Dies

Former UA Columbia Cablevision exec Kenneth Gunter has died at the age of 83, according to an obit in the San Angelo, Tex., Standard Times. Gunter helped launch UA Columbia with Bob Rosencrans and was an early backer of C-SPAN.

"Ken Gunter was a key player in the founding and start-up era of C-SPAN," says C-SPAN VP Peter Kiley. "Bob Rosencrans gave Brian the first check, $25,000, to get the ball rolling on C-SPAN and Ken was a guiding force behind Bob Rosencrans' support."

Kiley says Lamb has called Gunter the "unsung hero" of C-SPAN's early success.

Gunter and his father launched a cable system in San Angelo, Tex., in 1958, essentially operating from the back room of the family's appliance store, he told the National Cable Television Center and Museum for its oral history project in 1991.

The company merged with Florida Cablevision in 1961 and went public as International Cablevision, which Gunter said he was told at the time by investment bankers that it was the first cable operator to go public, as opposed to a company like Teleprompter or Gulf + Western that was already public and got into the cable system business. Gunter was VP, engineering, for the new company, with Gunter "burning up the airlines between Texas and Florida."

In the late 1960's, attorney Jack Cole--the Cole in Cole, Raywid & Braverman--was Gunter's Washington attorney, who put him together with another client. Bob Rosencrans, then running Columbia Cable systems, which had four West Coast systems. the two clicked, the companies merged in 1969, and Gunter was president of International Cable as a subsidiary of Columbia, of which he was a VP.

In 1973, Columbia merged with UA Cable Systems, which was bought in the early 1980's by Rogers. Gunter once said that at UA-Columbia and UA-Rogers his job was "Executive Vice President in charge of a little bit of everything."

Gunter was a former NCTA board member and chair of its engineering committee.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.