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Insight CTO Dietz to Retire

After 37 years in cable, Charlie Dietz, Insight Communications’ chief technology officer and senior vice president of research and development, will retire from his post as of Jan. 11.

Dietz, 60, said in an interview with Multichannel News that he had been “thinking about” retiring for a while, adding that “with the transition of the systems to Comcast, the timing seemed right.”

Insight and Comcast announced Wednesday the completion of the previously announced agreement to divide the Insight Midwest partnership in which each party held a 50% interest, giving Comcast 100% ownership of the cable systems serving 696,000 basic video subscribers in Illinois and Indiana.

Dietz started working in the cable industry when he was still attending a small Nebraska college in 1969. In 1973 he went to work at Vision Cable Communications (now part of Time Warner Cable) in New Jersey, where one of his first jobs was launching pay TV channel HBO.

Insight CEO and vice chairman Michael Willner, in a prepared statement, said he and Dietz first started working together in at Vision Cable “when I was a college intern and he was climbing poles.”

Dietz “has been instrumental in our ability to achieve some of our most remarkable successes over the past decade,” Willner said in the announcement. “It was Charlie who rebuilt our systems, it was Charlie who tied disparate technologies together as we acquired more cable systems, and it was Charlie who spearheaded our early technical efforts to diversify our product offering and enable us to offer our three-product bundle. He will be sorely missed.”

At Vision Cable, Dietz was vice president of technical operations from 1988 to 1991 and became vice president of operations in 1991. In 1996 he joined Insight – which Willner co-founded in 1985 – as senior vice president of engineering, and was promoted to CTO in December 2001.

Dietz has served on several industry committees at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and CableLabs and is a longtime member of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers.

CableLabs CEO Dick Green, in prepared remarks, said, “Charlie has long been a strong supporter of CableLabs, willingly giving his time and energy to help us work through cable industry issues. His assistance has been greatly appreciated and is a big reason that CableLabs has been able to meet the needs of our members in a timely manner.”

Under Dietz’s guidance, Insight was the first cable operator to introduce commercial video-on-demand and interactive television services, in 1999 in Rockford, Ill.

Dietz also led the company’s launch of circuit-switched phone services in 2000, making it one of the first cable companies to offer a triple-play bundle. According to Insight, Dietz rebuilt Insight’s high-speed Internet network in 2002 after @Home went out of business. 

Dietz said he’s not looking for another full-time job, but added that he may be open to consulting. Otherwise, he said, he plans to take an extended vacation to Italy. “I’m making good on a lot of promises I’ve made to my wife,” Dietz said.