NCTA Board Gives Michael Powell New Contract

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has given President Michael Powell a new three-year contract, a source confirmed on background late Saturday.

The board re-upped Powell at a meeting last week.

Powell, the former chairman of the FCC, will continue to lead the group as it works to help shape the upcoming Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act--Powell is testifying at a STELA hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee next week.

Currently, the draft of that bill being worked on by Republican members is causing a stir among broadcasters because of cable-friendly proposals such as doing away with the must-buy requirement of retrans stations, potentially limiting broadcasters' ability to coordinate retrans between stations and their joint sales or services agreement partners, and even getting rid of the ban on integrated set-tops.

Powell last fall, at the board's urging, signaled the group supported a fresh look at retransmission-consent reform and other outdated regulations. That drew some attention given the trade group’s history of treading cautiously on the issue due to its eclectic membershp of operators, operators with co-owned broadcast groups, and programmers.

NCTA's largest member, Comcast/NBCU, arguably the poster-company for that mix of assets on both sides of the retrans equation, said at the time it was "aligned" with NCTA on its public policy approach, while it might differ at times on particular issues.

Powell was tapped to run NCTA in March of 2011, succeeding Kyle McSlarrow. At the time, he had been chairman of the MKPowell Group and a senior adviser to Providence Equity Partners.

Unlike another Republican FCC chairman Kevin Martin, who proved McSlarrow's and cable's nemesis on issues like a la carte and cable pricing and network management, Powell was a deregulatory chairman who focused on promoting marketplace mechanisms to spread broadband via cable, telephone and even power lines.

Powell served as both commissioner and chairman, and before that was chief of staff of the antitrust division at the Justice Department.

He is a graduate of Georgetown Law and a William & Mary undergrad.

(Photo Credit: NCTA)

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.