NCTA: Judge Dan Brenner Dies in Auto Accident

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Dan Brenner, 64, former senior vice president of law and regulatory policy at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, was struck and killed by a car while crossing the street in Los Angeles Feb. 15, the NCTA said in a statement and a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokesperson confirmed.

"The people of Los Angeles have lost a great judge, and the public policy community has lost a great friend and colleague.  Dan’s insightful knowledge of telecommunications law made him a formidable force in public policy during his years leading the Legal Department at NCTA," said NCTA President Michael Powell in a statement. "A prominent and distinguished member of the federal communications bar, Dan was a key staffer and advisor to two FCC chairmen during a time of immense change. He was also a prized teacher and mentor for hundreds of law students at USC, UCLA, and Georgetown University, as well as a gifted advocate and volunteer for many community-based and public service groups, including public broadcasting.  None of us ever will forget Dan’s keen sense of humor and perspective, which helped guide his approach to his career and his friendships.  We will sorely miss him.” 

Brenner was named a judge in December 2012.

He was appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., and had been a partner in the communications, media and entertainment practice at Hogan Lovells in Washington and a source of legal expertise on communications issues. Before joining Hogan Lovells he was a senior VP of NCTA, in charge of its legal department.

He was also a former advisor to FCC chairman Mark Fowler, an adjunct professor at the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California, and co-author of "Cable Television: Law and Policy.

He also served on the adjunct faculties of Georgetown University Law Center, Washington College of Law at American University, Cardozo Law School, and on the communications program faculties at UCLA, USC Annenberg, and George Washington University.

Brenner was vice chair and a member of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as well as on the boards of the Stanford Library Visitors Board, Cable Positive, the Federal Communications Bar Foundation, Tekelec, a technology company, as well as the board of advisors of Falcon Cable Systems.  

He was also a driving force behind Cable Positive and helped raise $20 million and $2 billion in pro bono TV time for HIV/AIDS education, according to former Cable Positive CEO Steve Villano, who talked about Brenner in a Facebook post.

Brenner received the NCTA's President’s Award for service to the cable industry in 2009.

He was a graduate of Stanford, both undergraduate and law school.

“The American Cable Association is very saddened to hear the news of Dan Brenner’s passing," said ACA President Matt Polka. "Dan’s decency, intellectual drive and sense of humor made him stand out in ways that those who knew him will always remember. ACA extends its condolences to Dan’s family and friends at this very difficult hour.”

"Heartfelt sympathies to the family and many, many friends of Judge Daniel Brenner," tweeted Commissioner and former FCC chair Mignon Clyburn late Tuesday (Feb. 16).

"Dan Brenner was a treasure - smart as a whip and funny as Hell.  A rare very decent person in not-always-nice Washington," said Preston Padden, former top broadcast and satellite executive and more recently executive director of the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition.

Tributes were already being left on Brenner's Facebook page, including from longtime Comcast public-policy executive Joe Waz. "Just learned a couple of hours ago of the untimely passing of Dan Brenner in a pedestrian accident," said Waz. "Terribly sad and unfair. We have lost a decent, funny, and caring man."

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.