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NCTA's Powell: Roberts Impact Will Live On

Washington was quick to weigh in on the death of cable pioneer and Comcast chairman emeritus Ralph Roberts Friday, the town where Comcast has waged many battles, successful and unsuccessful, to grow the business Roberts started.

“NCTA is deeply saddened by the passing of Ralph Roberts, one of our country's greatest business pioneers and a man who truly embodied the American dream," said Michael Powell, president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (Comcast is its largest member). "He built much of the cable industry with his own hands, taking a small nascent service offering consumers greater television choices and building it into one of the most significant industries in the country today. Ralph's impact will live on forever."

“Ralph Roberts was a pioneer, an entrepreneur and a good man. It was my privilege to know, work with, and learn from Ralph," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who was president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. "He has left a lasting legacy on the communications landscape of America.”

"The cable industry has lost a true pioneer who took a small Mississippi cable company  and built it into the powerhouse business that Comcast is today," said Association of Cable Communicators president Steve Jones. "He will be missed throughout the industry.  My deepest condolences go out to his family."

“Amid a digital revolution that disrupted and confused so many in the business world, Ralph Roberts saw the future clearly and encouraged Comcast to become a broadband and technology innovator benefiting industry and consumers here and around the world," said Matt Polka, president of the American Cable Association. "At heart, Mr. Roberts was an entrepreneur like so many of our members, and we will miss his passion for our industry."

"The entire industry mourns the loss of Mr. Roberts, one of the country's greatest visionaries," said Maria Brennan, president of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT). "He served as a role model to others as a strong champion of diversity and inclusion. He will be greatly missed, though his lasting legacy remains."

"Ralph Roberts is a great American success story," said C-SPAN executive Chairman Brian Lamb. "We have many fond memories of Ralph and greatly appreciate his company’s support for C-SPAN and Ralph’s overall commitment to civic involvement and public service," he said.

Roberts appeared on the cable public affairs channel in 2002, testifying in the Senate on the proposed Comcast/AT&T Broadband merger. (

"I thought he was a great pioneer, visionary and entrepreneur, but with it all a humble, genial and engaging human being. Really one of a kind," said Dick Wiley, chairman of Wiley Rein and former chairman of the FCC.

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.