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Green to Leave CableLabs

Dick Green is leaving as president and CEO of CableLabs next year, concluding what will be a 21-year reign as the industry consortium’s first and only chief executive.

CableLabs last week said it has already initiated a search for a successor to Green, who will retire when his current contract expires in December 2009.

“The entire industry is indebted to Dick for building and managing one of the most successful development laboratories in the country,” Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast and chairman of CableLabs, said in a statement.

Green, in an interview, said that in recent and previous discussions he had with the CableLabs executive committee, departing at the end of 2009 “seemed like the right date.”

“We’re starting early so we have sufficient time to [find a new CEO] in a very professional and orderly way,” said Green, who declined to disclose his age.

CableLabs, officially known as Cable Television Laboratories, was incorporated in May 1988 and is funded by its cable-operator members.

The Louisville, Colo.-based group is a not-for-profit research and development consortium whose major achievements include development of the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification standards that underlie the industry’s broadband services. Another major project has been the Tru2way specification, formerly known as the OpenCable Applications Platform, which is designed to provide a standard way for devices to access interactive cable services.

The consortium was the brainchild of cable entrepreneur Dick Leghorn, “the father of CableLabs,” who recognized that the federal National Cooperative Research Act made it possible for U.S. companies to cooperate on research efforts without running afoul of antitrust laws.

Tele-Communications CEO John Malone agreed to be CableLabs’ first chairman, after which other operators came on board. In July 1988, they hired Green to run the operation.

Green “was the perfect choice” to run CableLabs and has been instrumental in much of its success, Leghorn said in an interview with Multichannel News earlier this year. “Twenty years ago cable was being beaten up by broadcasters and the telcos. Today, we’re ahead of them, and CableLabs is one of the reasons why.”

Known for his good humor and diplomacy, Green has brought MSOs, cable technology suppliers, consumer electronics manufacturers and other parties to the same table to work through technical and business issues.

“Dick Green has 'set the standard’ throughout his career in this industry,” said Time Warner Cable chief technology officer Mike LaJoie in a statement. “It is hard to quantify the contributions he has made to this industry over the years. They are countless.”

Tom Rutledge, Cablevision’s chief operating officer and also a CableLabs board member, said in a statement: “Dick Green has been one of the industry’s unsung heroes and a key contributor to cable’s success. … The thought leadership and technical expertise coming out of CableLabs, under Dick’s strong direction, has played an essential enabling role in this development and in the evolution of cable itself.”

According to industry insiders, the topic of who will replace Green has generated much speculation in recent years.

Executives mentioned as potential candidates include Don Dulchinos, CableLabs senior vice president of advanced platforms and services; Comcast chief technical officer Tony Werner; Charter Communications CTO Marwan Fawaz; and Jim Chiddix, former CTO of Time Warner Cable. CableLabs may also choose to search for talent outside the industry, sources noted.

Before joining CableLabs, Green worked for PBS, CBS and ABC. He had been senior vice president of broadcast operations and engineering at PBS, where his contributions included construction of national network origination and transmission facilities.

From 1980 to 1983, Green was director of the CBS Advanced Television Technology Laboratory in Stamford, Conn., where he managed and produced the first high-definition TV programs in the U.S. in December 1981. He also managed ABC’s videotape postproduction department and conducted research for Boeing and Hughes Aircraft.

Green helped organize and establish the Advanced Television Systems Committee, and is chairman of the International Telecommunication Union’s Study Group 9 committee, which recommends worldwide standards for cable television. He also is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a fellow of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

Green’s awards and honors include being inducted into the 2008 Cable Hall of Fame. In 1999, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association gave him a Vanguard Award for his achievements in technology development.

He holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Washington, a master’s in physics from the State University of New York in Albany and bachelor’s degree from Colorado College.

Green said that after he turns over the CableLabs reins, he’d like to remain involved with cable.

“I’ve enjoyed being part of the industry as it’s developed over these 20 years,” he said, adding: “I just feel fortunate they brought me in 20 years ago.”