Even as we type the words “power List,” we understand that such lists have become something of an end-of-year staple, as much a part of the late-December festivities as noisemakers, champagne and Pitbull.
Given the ever-shifting nature of the television industry, one might suggest that attempting to order its true power players from 1 to 100 is too daunting.
But that one phrase—ever-shifting—makes the attempt worth all the effort. Through a mix of technological evolution, grudging acceptance of change, miraculous and overdue audience metrics, new threats from disruptive over-the-top players and a spectrum auction that will upend everything all over again, the industry in 2015 (and continuing to 2016) has become harder to read than Finnegans Wake. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more extraordinary landscape revamp in a major medium that has long thrived, and will continue to thrive in remade ways once thought impossible outside of, say, Star Trek (when it aired on linear television). To take a snapshot of the developers and disruptors, programmers and providers, and regulators and dealmakers who push the industry forward is to view—and chronicle—a moment of electricity and insight in a world where the foundational blueprint is in near-constant rewrite.
This is, indeed, a snapshot, the kind of selfie Ellen DeGeneres (who made our list) might have taken at a precise moment in time at the end of 2015.
That also invites explanation and caveats. How is power measured in an apples-and-oranges world of C-level execs, talent (and their agents) and government officials? The criteria for our choices and their order began with some obvious measures.
CEOs and controllers of giant industry companies, presidents, department heads, once considered and investigated for levels of influence, were bound to rate high. Financials—market cap, deal valuation and so on—mattered to us, but weren’t all-defining. We’re in the midst of several mergers and deals at the moment, but a deal ain’t done until it’s done. Nods were given to moves that appeared to succeed (and those that are still waiting to be judged) throughout late 2015.
Some might claim there should be a whole lot more diversity on this list, and that should have been a huge factor in our measure. In fact it was, and the lack of diversity here frankly frustrates us.
Another major factor was considered—how much of a disruptor has a person been? Disruptors get a lot of press, but why do they deserve slots on this list? Because they are the Roone Arledges and Ted Turners of the modern age.
All of which leaves us guaranteeing you one thing with the B&C/Multichannel News Power 100 list—you will disagree with it. There’s going to be head-scratching, shouting and queries about our sanity.
We welcome your perspectives.
Chairman and CEO, Comcast Corp.
It’s not easy being on top, but Brian Roberts often makes it look like it is. He’s good at understanding that if you’re running the country’s top broadband provider and one of its top multichannel video programming distributors (22.3 million video subs, 22.5 million for Internet), you’re going to wear the requisite industry bull’s-eye. Roberts’ plan to merge with No. 2 pay-TV provider Time Warner Cable went bust (Charter’s TWC bid remains under review). Comcast lost video subs, but added Web ones. There are some cries of competitive bullying, and like all its rivals, Comcast faces concerns of keeping up with technology, generational shifts and cord-cutting.
But Roberts combats the negative by embracing the necessity of innovation. The company is building a new Silicon Valley tech center and now employs 1,500 software engineers. One-quarter of its customers are already enjoying the convenience of its X1 operating system (with voice remote). Its new $15/month Stream TV offers a small, enticing bundle. It plans to harness viewing data from set-top boxes and streaming apps. Recent investments in Buzzfeed and Vox help with youth appeal. The company even invested $300 million to improve its notoriously spotty customer service record. In 2015, Roberts continued to set the tone for the industry’s movement toward the future.
Chairman and CEO, Walt Disney Co.
It is, for the most part, a world of laughter for Bob Iger. Operating (understandably) like a man with lots of wild cards in his deck, Iger’s portfolio of acquired megabrands—mainly Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm—continue to pay off in myriad realms. Disney enjoyed its fifth-straight year of record performance (with revenue hitting $52.5 billion), and any “Force Awakens” metaphor seems appropriate.
But, like Brian Roberts and most others on this list, Iger must grapple with how best to gain an upper hand in the continued battle for traditional television relevance. There is understandable concern over ESPN’s layoffs, but the net remains a live event sports leader. Maker Studios, a multichannel network bought in 2014, hasn’t yet borne abundant fruit. Iger, meanwhile, has posted better future-minded moves than many, especially in the realm of developing VOD options for company content. Disney, a co-owner of Hulu, announced the launch, in Europe, of DisneyLife, an over-the-top service with content from Disney staples ESPN, ABC and Disney Channel. The company has also kept its options open with Netflix. Iger’s flexibility continues to serve him and the company well and should keep Disney from edging any closer to a world of tears.
Piano-playing cats. Highly charged political videos. A visual resource for whatever you seem to be looking for at any time. A Swedish comedian and gamer who goes by the name PewDiePie, with 40 million subscribers and 10 billion video views. These are the weirdly expansive corners of You-Tube, which is its own vast content universe that the current and coming Most Powerful Demos are watching daily, and faithfully. Plus, the company partners with TV networks on the dial, providing digital rocket fuel to their shows. Does all of that make Susan Wojcicki the ultimate disruptor?
Yes, because Wojcicki has been good at recognizing the power of her site’s homegrown stars as she continues a career-long pattern of innovation. Under her watch, the 10-yearsyoung YouTube went to full-screen vertical playback in July, the YouTube Gaming app allows users to view a favorite category on devices and YouTube Red is a subscription-based stop with a plan for ever-more enticing homegrown content (and, rumor has it, perhaps TV programs and theatricals down the road). Has Wojcicki figured out the right ways to monetize her behemoth, which, like Netflix, seems more than a little coy on reporting numbers? What about turning the ultimate video warehouse into a better spot for targeted, promoted, ad-supported fare? We see that developing apace from an exec who’s best at giving the kids what they want.
President and CEO, CBS Corp.
There are those who would suggest Les Moonves could sit comfortably atop any TV industry power list, and given his world-on-a-string success at CBS, that’s hard to debate. His concerns are sound, with network hits (The Big Bang Theory, NCIS and this season’s Supergirl) and great ad numbers, including the strongest scatter the company has seen in a long time.
Moonves is also the prime mover in getting everybody to wake up to seven-day measurement. And Showtime and The CW are growing pride (and ratings) points. Moonves’ greatest strength may be his flexibility. He’ll work with Netflix when the numbers suggest the right return, and while he still maintains the cord-cutter revolution is overblown, it’s an understandable perspective when you’re running the success machine that is CBS. (That machine makes the network a necessity on bundles big and skinny—another plus.) That said, CBS All Access has gained significant subscriber growth, and Moonves is looking at the next iteration of Star Trek—which will live on it. That should give All Access an even bigger jump, while adding yet more clout to CBS’ own content—perhaps Moonves’ most prized asset.
CEO, Time Warner
Every exec with their hands on the corporate keys agrees good content is one’s most valued asset; they don’t all agree on how best to protect and monetize it, as Jeff Bewkes made clear in his Q3 earnings call. Noting the frustration that comes with losing pay-TV subs and ads—a pinch everybody is feeling—Bewkes’ reaction is to consider delaying the subscription video-on-demand window of his company’s content to the big OTT players, signaling a lack of desire to share those assets’ profits with the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
That may make Bewkes and TW something of an island among top players, but Bewkes is unconcerned (constant merger bids notwithstanding). He has a strategy. Time Warner may invest in Hulu, which could further combat the OTT giants. The company is experimenting with decreasing ad loads (also an iconoclastic move), first on TruTV. The company is embracing its apps and website destinations (HBO Go, HBO Now, Turner’s iStreamPlanet, TBS’ Super Deluxe). Numbers are good at HBO and Turner Sports, and The Flash, Gotham and Arrow are valued comic book properties in a Marvel-dominated world. Is Bewkes a different kind of disruptor, a guy who turned down Rupert Murdoch’s Time Warner bid last year, and saw stock prices rise 17%? The facts will, in time, speak for themselves.
Co-Executive Chairman, 21st Century Fox
It was a time of some transition at 21st Century Fox in 2015, as James Murdoch was named CEO and his brother Lachlan executive chairman. But there’s no confusion about the straw that still very much stirs the drink at a company whose biggest broadcast TV asset remains, fittingly enough, Empire. At 84, Rupert Murdoch continues to be a divisive, political, vastly successful figure in the media landscape, known these days for very public pronouncements, fascinating tweets and backroom dealings.
Overall revenue took a Q3 tumble at Fox, but the cherished cable network group (including stalwart Fox News Channel) was up, thanks to affiliate fees and ad revenue. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has had his issues with Fox News, leaving the net to weep copiously all the way to the bank. Fox bought a controlling interest in National Geographic, and succeeding layoff moves smacked many as draconian (though Fox would perhaps quote a Corleone family credo about “business”). Following a typical company pattern, FS 1 is set to show a profit on its way to challenge ESPN. James Murdoch was quoted this year as saying, “We have to be disruptors if we’re going to grow.” He knows whom to take after.
Chairman, Liberty Media, Liberty Global and Liberty Interactive
If cable deals and consolidation were raised to a kind of mythic status (and some perhaps believe it already is), John Malone would be the form’s Zen master. Often, there is a pattern—a smaller monetary gesture before a much larger move, or a swooping in where others have failed. Comcast earlier this year saw its tie-up with Time Warner Cable come undone. Now, it’s Charter Communications’ turn at Time Warner Cable along with Bright House Networks, an attempt engineered by Malone.
There are plenty of reasons to assume Malone will be busy in 2016. A recently announced restructuring plan would see his Liberty Interactive (including QVC Group and cable assets) reclassify under different stock plans. The new Liberty Media Group would then cover ownership stakes in Time Warner, Viacom and Live Nation; a separate group would concern stakes in Sirius XM. Malone, who also controls the reins at Starz and is majority shareholder at Discovery, just announced that Liberty Global and Discovery bought into Lionsgate Entertainment in a bigger way. Where will this all lead? Hard to say, except that Malone has always been a mogul with precise, (often) profitable plans—and power.
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
Forget the ides of March. In the TV industry come 2016, the real sense of foreboding comes exactly two weeks later, on March 29, which is when Tom Wheeler has scheduled the vaunted 600 MHz wireless spectrum auction. Is it hyperbole to call this—now three months shy of the date—the most important event on the industry calendar? No, it’s actually understatement, and it’s all Wheeler, with the FCC chairman’s actions set to remake the figurative TV signal and wireless maps. If all goes according to plan, a great coming together of broadcasters offering spectrum and wireless carriers with an aim to buy will make disruptor history.
Wheeler’s overall commission aim is to increase competition, keep the net neutral (meaning on slow and fast lanes, via Title II) and also maintain a tight hold on media ownership rules and reclassification of Internet service providers. Many questions remain in terms of auction procedure, involving low-power TV stations and translators, room for unlicensed device use, whether lawsuits will delay the action, reconfiguration of the broadcast band and the need for moving stations and new equipment (and the budget, in terms of time and money, for both). Pulling it all off will be no mean feat, but success or failure will build Wheeler’s—and this era’s—legacy.
Chairman and CEO, HBO
If Emmys are power (and, of course, they are), then Richard Plepler has had a fortifying year, with HBO winning an astonishing 43 awards from 126 nominations. That speaks to the kind of content jewels—Game of Thrones, Veep, The Jinx—of which continually outsized expectations are made (and to the contributions of programming president Michael Lombardo). Add Sesame Street and a great tie with Vice and HBO is succeeding at the demo dance.
But Plepler—a clever strategist and consummate politician—and the outfit he runs are at a fascinating place on the industry-wide precipice. Broadcasters going over-the-top is one thing; premium networks, with their own kind of profit model, are another. HBO Now, launched in April for $15 per month and available without a subscription, gives all the net’s considerable, acclaimed content to the user. The implied risk, of course, is that HBO will sacrifice subs and frustrate the MVPDs that pay handsomely for HBO content. Already, Plepler is at odds with Comcast, which is not offering HBO Now with its slew of broadband products—unlike Apple and Google, and Cablevision and Verizon. Like any powerful executive looking for the right route to continued affluence, Plepler wants his slice of the considerable subscription TV pie—with perhaps a chance to knock Netflix down a peg.
Cofounder and CEO, Netflix
Analysts and competitors get understandably frustrated at Hastings for a lack of quantifiable numbers regarding Netflix. So we found this one—“Usage increased 200% year-over-year from 2014-15.” Wait, sorry—that wasn’t about Netflix, per se. That was the jump (according to lexicographers) in use of the word “binge-watch,” named last month by Collins English Dictionary as “the word of 2015.”
You can blame (or credit) Hastings for such ubiquity, as the CEO of the most renowned streaming service keeps the video-on-demand flames burning. The reason is the elegance of the interface and the well of content people want to see. In 2016, the company will spend $5 billion on content (up from $2 billion in 2013)—only ESPN spends more. Standard-bearers like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black are now flanked by feature films, comedy specials, documentaries, kids fare and lucrative off-net shows (Friends was a key 2015 pickup) licensed from all over. The continuing question at this most vexing moment in the content evolution is whether or not broadcasters, lured in by short-term gains and frustrated by fewer ads and lower ratings, went too far by selling to the Netflixes and Amazons of the world, strengthening the assumption that watching TV ads doesn’t matter.
And Hastings? He maintains that he always saw the future—Netflix as ultimate disruptor, with the Web replacing TV and apps replacing channels. The game isn’t over yet, but Hastings, like his service, gets watched continuously.
President and CEO, Discovery Communications
Having left NBCUniversal in 2007 to take the helm of Discovery, Zaslaw has proved himself both a clever deal maker and one of the industry’s clearest-minded executives when it comes to the future of television. Discovery, with a market cap of $12 billion (triple its 2005 level) reaches more than 3 billion subscribers in 220-plus countries. It recently added Eurosport, the largest sports network across Europe and Asia, in time for the 2018 Olympics.
After taking over following the death of Steve Jobs in 2011, Tim Cook has kept the fires of innovation stoked at Apple as the tech giant continues to redefine the mobile space, among many other areas of modern life. Cook rolled out must-have iPhone and iPad models and pushed the company deeper into its next big frontier: television. Though Jobs once considered Apple TV a “hobby,” Cook’s apps-friendly version of the connected TV platform aims to build it into a bona fide growth driver.
Altice is looking to acquire the 42-year-old Cablevision for $17.7 billion including debt; the deal hasn’t closed, but if/when it does, James Dolan, and his father, Charles, still have a sizable TV portfolio to control. The empire includes: MSG Network, Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks and Rangers and a major stake in AMC Networks. Doubters/aggrieved Knicks fans, take note—during James Dolan’s 20-year run as Cablevision CEO, company shares have more than tripled.
Chairman and CEO, AT&T
Stephenson made his company more of a power in the television business in 2015, acquiring DirecTV for $49 billion (including debt) to go along with its smaller U-verse concern. Both will be rebranded as AT&T Entertainment under John Stankey, who will try to build momentum by creating more mobile services at a time when consumers are cutting the cord on pay TV.
President and CEO, Charter Communications
After agreeing to purchase Bright House for $10.4 billion (including debt) in March, Charter Communications announced plans to merge its No. 4 U.S. cable system with Time Warner Cable. The OTT-friendly company also launched a Roku app and is gearing jup to deploy the IPcapable Worldbox. Rutledge, a longtime Cablevision lieutenant who has led Charter for nearly four years, says a high-quality, low-cost skinny bundle video package is in the pipeline.
Co-chair, Disney Media Networks and President, Disney/ABC Television Group
Work ethic. Intellect. Instincts. Curiosity. These are some of the words Disney CEO Bob Iger used to describe why he gave Sherwood the Disney/ABC TV Group post in early 2014. Some wondered how a onetime journalist and author (The Survivors Club) would fare in the showbiz shark tank. But after guiding Good Morning America past NBC’s Today show, Sherwood now helms the only Big Four network that last season posted a ratings increase (of 5%).
Chairman, Viacom and CBS
Though he may be fighting off illness and a lawsuit (and the former has yet to be 100% confirmed at presstime), the 92-year-old Redstone still remains in charge of his affairs. Chief among them: two giant media companies, Viacom and CBS, of which he owns about 80% of voting stock. When, how and to whom Redstone relinquishes control of the two companies will shape the future of the media landscape.
Founder, Altice Group
A Forbes-listed billionaire, Drahi has launched TV stations in Europe and a cable network in Beijing. With an assist from CEO Dexter Goei, Drahi is now looking to make his Netherlands-based company a major power player in the U.S. telecom market with proposed purchases of Cablevision (for $17.7B, including debt) and Suddenlink ($9.1B including debt). Things are still looking rosy, even though his proposed Time Warner Cable bid was rebuffed.
Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. Entertainment
Warner Bros. has a wide array of movie and digital offerings, but TV is the studio’s heartbeat. Tsujihara, who won a three-way race to be the CEO in 2013, has built the company into one of the industry’s most powerful producers, with more than 60 series on-air in the 2014-15 season. While that includes longtime hits (The Big Bang Theory, Rizzoli & Isles), Tsujihara loosened the movie studio’s grip on its DC Comics characters, enabling shows such as The Flash, Arrow and Gotham to take flight.
Chief Content Officer, Netflix
Sarandos has helped the OTT giant flip the traditional television model on its head with its strategy of releasing quality scripted programming for viewers to binge-view at their leisure. Film deals with the likes of Adam Sandler and Brad Pitt and an unprecedented four-series deal with Marvel Entertainment are helping fuel international expansion, something Amazon Prime and Hulu can’t currently match. Available in more than 70 countries now, Netflix is targeting 200 by 2017.
President and CEO, Univision
In January, the U.S. Hispanic broadcaster extended Falco’s contract through 2018. Since then, Univision has turned its focus to millennial consumers with new shows and content, started a broadband access and education campaign to close the homework gap, debuted female-targeted subchannel Escape and male-focused Grit in major markets and launched its “Todo Es Posible” brand campaign. Oh, and it vocally cut ties with Donald Trump. Newly upped exec Tonia O’Connor continues to help Falco and chairman Haim Saban push Univision’s cause.
Chairman and CEO, Verizon Communications
McAdam is no stranger to bold moves. Since becoming CEO in 2011, he has shelled out $110 billion to buy Vodafone’s 45% interest in Verizon Wireless, and his was the first MVPD to fully commit to skinny bundles, launching Custom TV earlier this year to the consternation of some programmers. His latest move—launching mobile-only TV service go90, headed by senior VP of product and marketing Brian Angiolet—may be his riskiest yet.
Viacom has struggled with ratings declines, talent defections and a fickle millennial audience for several years at its youth-oriented networks, but Dauman’s portfolio of battle-tested brands gives him ammunition in the fight. He has tried to stem the bleeding by shaking up management and investing in originals, resulting in some improvement. But Viacom has been dropped by two small operators—Cable One and Suddenlink—and its biggest test may come in Q1, when its carriage deal with Dish Network’s 14 million subscribers expires.
Executive VP, Comcast, and CEO, NBCUniversal
Burke took on a listing ship when he stepped in five years ago, and his steady hand and deep broadcast pedigree have enhanced an already positive profile. Proved his mettle in guiding NBC past the Brian Williams snafu. Primetime is potent, the Today show is back on top, and the stations have turned things around dramatically. Having Linda Yaccarino there to sell Burke’s vision puts NBCU in an enviable position.
President, ESPN/Disney Media Networks
Skipper’s unwavering focus on long-term, technology-driven initiatives helped keep things steady during a challenging year that saw subscriber declines (92 million, a drop of 7 million from 2013), layoffs of 300 and the departures of top on-air personalities. ESPN hit all-time highs in digital traffic in 2015 as part of Skipper’s push to add viewers on other platforms to make up for the falloff in cable subs, and the network stepped up its editorial coverage and advertising business in the hugely popular (though somewhat controversial) daily fantasy sports arena. Recently promoted global sales/marketing president Ed Erhardt is a valued lieutenant.
President, Cox Communications
Under Esser’s leadership, Cox, the broadband communications and entertainment company serving more than 6 million customers, in 2015 signed a national X1 deal with Comcast, unveiled millennial-targeted video streaming service Flare MeTV, launched NBC Universo in HD, integrated with TiVo to provide Cox access to its VOD library on TiVo devices and partnered with MLB Network, Watch Disney and other TV Everywhere providers.
Chairman and CEO, Meredith Corp.
Currently leading Meredith Corp., Lacy’s purview could be expanding rapidly in the near future. If the proposed Meredith-Media General deal passes regulatory muster and survives Nexstar’s challenge, Lacy will be CEO of the combined company, which will reach 30% of TV households, according to Meredith.
President and CEO, Comcast Cable, and Executive VP, Comcast Corp.
The former Navy Seal lieutenant commander brings the same get-it-done mind-set to Comcast. He spearheaded customer service improvement initiatives, vowed to debut at least one product per quarter, moved Comcast into the modern age with on-demand access via tablets, launched the X1 and X2 operating platforms and has improved customer losses in 14 of the past 15 quarters. Apt results from the ultimate operator.
Head of Amazon Studios
Under Price, Amazon Studios’ original content has blossomed with the launches of Golden Globe and Emmy-winning Transparent and most recently the ambitious The Man in the High Castle. Amazon’s programming has made it a major competitor to streaming giant Netflix, pushing the boundaries of television, especially when it comes to the novel way it releases pilots for viewer feedback before making series commitments.
Chairman and CEO, Fox News, and Chairman, Fox Television Stations
Ailes single-handedly revolutionized cable news. A perennial ratings winner, Fox News has been the No. 1 news network in America for more than a decade and has become one of the few must-haves in the cable universe. The controversial Ailes has been a lightning rod for liberal pundits who have criticized Fox News’ coverage over the years, but that hasn’t stopped him or Fox News from being the conservative talk giant.
No television producer is hotter than Ms. ShondaLand. With her unprecedented Thursday (“TGIT”) lineup—Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder (whose star Viola Davis last September became the first African-American actress to win the best drama Emmy statuette)—Rhimes is dominating the multimedia space like very few others can or ever will. The shows, even the 12-year-old Grey’s, do numbers but also rack up massive social media crowds.
Hopkins is pushing to make Hulu a leader in the booming streaming video-on-demand business, buying content that ranges from Seinfeld to Empire. Subs were up to 9 million in April, a rise of 50% over 2014. While launching an ad-free option for consumers, he’s pushing to grow ad revenue and working to upgrade the consumer experience using technology from 21st Century Fox, one of Hulu’s three media company owners. Some more money/content from another partner (such as the rumored Time Warner) wouldn’t hurt the cause.
Head of Industry (U.S.) for Film and Television and Head of the Los Angeles Office, Facebook and Instagram
Murtaugh, who works with entertainment marketers, has helped the companies revolutionize advertising. Earlier this year, Facebook pushed its consumer research program Facebook IQ, which merges Facebook data with research from SalesBrain to unravel consumer behavior “across generations, geographies, devices and time.” It’s part of Facebook/Instagram’s larger mission to make the world more open and connected, focusing on people, not tech.
Chief Research Officer, CBS Corp.
Poltrack heads up the dominant broadcaster’s research and audience measurement efforts. He is creator and overseer of CBS Television City in Las Vegas and president of CBS Vision, its research unit looking into emerging technology and media trends. His advertising forecasts set the tone for the industry each year and ad buyers, agencies and networks act upon his insights regularly. He’s a constant, respected, necessary thorn in the side of those eager to dismiss broadcast television.
CEO, Tribune Media
Out of the television business for one year after leaving Discovery Communications, where he led Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, Liguori reemerged as CEO of Tribune Media in 2013, where he oversaw the split of Tribune Co.'s print and broadcast units. Six months into the job, he had nearly doubled its size to 42 owned and operated stations. Today Tribune Media includes WGN America, original content producer Tribune Studios and music metadata provider Gracenote.
Chairman, Sony Pictures Television
Under Mosko, Hollywood’s largest independent studio has become a prolific producer of TV shows airing across broadcast, cable and digital platforms. He directs the studio’s international networks, as well as Crackle, GSN and ITN Networks. He also oversees SPT’s 19 wholly owned or joint venture production companies in 13 countries outside the U.S. as well as the studio’s offices in 32 countries.
Chairman & CEO, Turner Broadcasting
In 2014, Martin unveiled his Turner 2020 initiative aimed at boosting ratings and controlling cost at the channels, creating a successful vision for the company heading into the future. The former Turner CFO is also guiding the company’s evolution as a multiplatform media and technology leader.
Seven years after being ousted from the company he founded, Dorsey returned to Twitter in October to replace CEO Dick Costolo, inheriting a company struggling to grow audience. Under Dorsey and Baljeet Singh, senior product director, media TV and video, Twitter has made aggressive moves, launching live-streaming app Periscope, beefing up its Twitter Amplify video service and introducing Moments, its new way to organize content on the social network.
Chairman, Dish Network and EchoStar
With tens of billions in spectrum assets, Ergen is hip deep in auction speculation, which is the essence of power in 2016. At the same time, he is daring Viacom to call his bluff in their current carriage negotiations, which are crucial for the programmer. He’s also made an early over-the-top bet with Sling TV, run by Roger Lynch, which has signed up many programmers for its skinny bundle.
Commissioner, National Football League
The NFL’s TV ratings and revenue continue to march upfield despite mounting incidence of concussions and domestic abuse and any residual late-game fallout from Deflategate. Goodell has played a central role in all three controversies, yet he continues to enjoy steadfast support from NFL team owners. And ratings look to top last year, when an average of 17.6 million viewers tuned into regular season games. The bottom line is, fans can’t stop watching—on TV and other platforms.
Global President and Chief Operating Officer, Nielsen
Nielsen has long been the currency of television advertising, but it has been challenged to maintain that position and reinvent itself as viewing increasingly shifts away from the TV to an array of connected devices—a situation that’s provided a ripe opportunity for rivals. Under Hasker, Nielsen premiered Total Audience Measurement, a platform that aims to bridge the measurement gap between traditional TV and increasingly popular digital formats.
Chairman, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment
Hammer oversees NBCU cable brands USA Network, Syfy, E! Entertainment, Bravo, Oxygen, Esquire Network, Sprout, TV One, Chiller, Cloo and Universal HD, as well as production entities Universal Cable Productions (UCP) and Wilshire Studios. Under her leadership, USA was the top-rated cable network for eight years, and 2015 marks 10 straight years of ratings and revenue gains for her group.
President, ABC Entertainment Group
Since 2010, Lee has steered ABC, and last year led the network to a sizable year-to-year ratings increase within the key 18-49 demographic (up 4% in viewers and the demo). The first year or two were wobbly, but Lee has stayed the course, wisely giving Shonda Rhimes an entire night (Thursday), with How to Get Away With Murder and Scandal. He also oversaw the arrival of comedies Blackish and Fresh Off the Boat and this year added Quantico and The Muppets. Lee finds himself on solid footing heading into 2016.
Nevins, who will become CEO of the CBS Corp.-owned premium network on Jan. 1 after Matt Blank steps down, has had a good run, beginning with the Emmy-winning Homeland. He followed that with other well-received series, including Ray Donovan, House of Lies, Shameless, The Affair and Masters of Sex. The exec also manages Showtime Sports, which coproduced the record-setting Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, with its 4.4 million PPV buys and $400 million in revenue.
Chairman, President and CEO, Sinclair Broadcast Group
Fueling the Sinclair chief’s frenetic company growth over the past five years is the dream of a national platform. With 164 stations across 79 markets, Sinclair is there. SBG properties with broad reach include Ring of Honor wrestling, American Sports Network and sci-fi diginet Comet. Smith’s hard-charging style irks regulators, but Wall Street loves it. He’s bullish on broadcasting to the bone.
Chairman and CEO, Fox Networks Group
Rice oversees a wide array of Fox properties ranging from the broadcast network to FX to FS1 to National Geographic Channel. And, with the help of Fox Television Group chairmen and CEOs Gary Newman and Dana Walden, he is leading the charge against promoting live-plus-same-day ratings, which Fox formally eschewed in November.
CEO, FX Networks and FX Productions
Too much television? That was Landgraf ’s claim earlier this year, saying it’s hard to get to the great ones. He should know—widely acknowledged as one of TV’s most savvy programmers, Landgraf is the man behind such Emmy-lauded series as American Horror Story, Fargo, Louie and Justified. During his tenure, FX has added sister networks FXX, focused on comedy, and FXM, focused on movies.
President and CEO, AMC Networks
While Sapan tops the company, its flagship AMC service has grabbed attention with a trio of big-name dramas: Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Walking Dead. With the acquisition of BBC America and spinoffs Better Call Saul and Fear the Walking Dead, Sapan has only boosted the network’s profile further. Publicly traded since 2011, AMC Networks now has a market cap of $5.7 billion, double where it was when it began trading in 2011 under Sapan.
Chairman, President and CEO, Scripps Networks Interactive
Lowe’s Scripps stable includes HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel and Great American Country. A focus on popular original programming has been parlayed into growth—U.S. networks revenues climbed 6.2% in Q3, while ad revenues rose 5.2% and affiliate revenues jumped 6.3%, aided by distribution pacts with OTT partners. Scripps has also been active on digital via TV Everywhere apps for a range of mobile and TV-connected streaming platforms.
President and Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Television Group
A longtime Warner Bros. exec, Roth was upped to his current title in May 2013, a few months before being reunited with Fox alum Mike Darnell after Darnell joined WB as president of unscripted and alternative programming. During Roth’s tenure, the studio has become the most prolific in Hollywood and is behind CBS mainstays The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly and more, as well as the catalogue of DC Comics shows.
Chairwoman, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, Oprah Winfrey Network
After a difficult start that seemed to suggest Winfrey was a mere mortal, OWN is, in the words of partner/Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav, “enormously cashflow positive.” It also set network ratings records in Q3 in its key demographic of women 25-54. Winfrey may have skin in the movie, live-event and publishing games, but she has shifted from TV star to media mogul. In other words: She’s the only person on this list that can schedule an interview and create instant ratings fireworks.
CEO, Fox Television Stations
Under Abernethy, the country’s top revenue-producing station group, which encompasses 28 stations in 17 markets and covers more than 37% of U.S. TV homes, produces the most hours of local news per week and has introduced news expansion in nearly half of its markets. It also became the first O&O group to strike a deal with Rentrak, and has pioneered testing syndicated programming before committing to full seasons.
President, Turner Broadcasting System
Levy has oversight of seven cable networks, including TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network; his sports pedigree includes securing for Turner a multi-year NBA deal and bringing the climax of March Madness—the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four and national championship game—to cable for the first time in 2016. Last year’s NCAA numbers for CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV—an average 11.3 million viewers through the tournament—were the highest in 22 years.
President, Viacom Music and Entertainment Group
It was a busy, pivotal year for one of the most recognizable names in the cable industry, who signed off on hiring Trevor Noah to replace Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. A restructuring in February consolidated Herzog’s power atop the music/entertainment group, and he also oversees, and presses, a multiplatform creative and distribution strategy for his cable channels.
President, Tegna Media
Tegna stations reach a full third of the U.S., giving Lougee a broad platform on which to execute his deeply held vision for local news. But Lougee’s strategy goes further; few groups are pushing harder into non-news original productions. Lougee, the NAB’s joint board chairman, takes full advantage of the short distance between McLean, Va., and Capitol Hill, offering a respected, and forceful, voice on media policy matters.
Granted, Feltheimer has grown Lionsgate into a top independent film studio (The Hunger Games) but his TV performance has been equally phenomenal. Under Feltheimer and TV Group chairman Kevin Beggs, TV revenue has soared from $8 million in 2000 to $580 million in fiscal 2015, with an eye toward reaching $1 billion in the next few years. Hits include Mad Men and Orange Is the New Black.
Chairman, NBC Entertainment
His insistence on trying live musicals on NBC revived an events genre, and with the successful presentation of The Wiz Live! under his belt (it racked up 11.5 million viewers 18-49), Greenblatt is continuing to make new creative strides at NBC, which still rules the annual demo race. The man in charge of programming across all dayparts at the net, he also had a hand in Jimmy Fallon’s highly successful transition to host of The Tonight Show.
Creator and Executive Producer,Saturday Night Live
As if Michaels’ influence on late night wasn’t enough—SNL is entering its 41st season and he executive produces The Tonight Show and Late Night—the Broadway Video czar also has his hand in the comedies Documentary Now!, Peabody Award winner Portlandia on IFC and Man Seeking Woman on FXX.
Chairman, CBS Sports
His network is set to broadcast Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7 (which execs predict will set ratings and revenue records) and just wrapped a successful sophomore season of NFL Thursday Night Football (ratings were up 9% for the eight-game package). Along with continuing to lead strong golf and college basketball coverage, McManus is in a strong negotiating position for a multiyear deal with the NFL for Thursday Night Football rights.
President, The CW
Pedowitz has retooled the smaller-major network with moves that have brought accolades and a Peabody Award for Jane the Virgin; a bona fide ratings hit with The Flash; and, perhaps more crucially, a more diverse (read: male) viewership. He added significantly to the network’s programming hours, and stronger ratings numbers have followed across the board. With key deputy Rick Haskins, Pedowitz has pushed The CW’s digital and social-media presence to its full youth-skewing advantage.
Under Albrecht, Starz has raised its original programming level to better compete with its premium-channel rivals. Albrecht has found hits by collaborating with big names, some familiar to TV—Seth MacFarlane on Blunt Talk, Michael Bay on Black Sails and Ronald D. Moore on Outlander—others familiar, period, such as LeBron James on Survivor’s Remorse. A deal this month for streaming availability via Amazon Fire marked a step toward a direct-to-consumer OTT offering. Albrecht is also eyeing the indie landscape, with a tieup with Lionsgate, in which it owns shares, frequently rumored.
President and CEO, Nexstar Broadcasting Group
Nexstar chief Sook saw the future of local broadcasting vividly during his first job in Punxsutawney, Pa., at age 16. Decades later, he has put Nexstar on a path to be one of the last station supergroups standing. The smooth-styled Dallas resident can sometimes show his horns, going dark on cable systems or tossing a grenade into the Media General-Meredith merger by bidding $4.1 billion for the former in that still-unfolding saga.
CEO and Founder, Roku
Under the steady hand of Wood, who pioneered the DVR technology as the head of the late, great Replay TV, Roku has morphed from a scrappy startup to a major force in video streaming. It has taken on (and often defeated) consumer-electronics behemoths such as Apple, Amazon and Google. Wood’s Roku is attacking the market on multiple fronts, including a new 4K-capable model, the Roku 4, and a slew of integrated smart TVs powered by its platform.
President, CBS Television Stations
It’s been a big year for Dunn and the group of 28 CBS owned-and-operated stations he has led since 2009. That includes the debut of multicast network Decades, a TV time capsule of classic shows; the launch of CBS All Access, an SVOD service offering CBS shows and a live stream of subscribers’ local stations; and putting CBS-owned station content in waiting rooms and medical practices, as well as thousands of taxis in major markets nationwide.
65. Randy Freer
President and COO, Fox Networks Group
Freer implemented the recent consolidation of Fox’s ad-sales organization under another power player, president of ad sales Toby Byrne. Among recent key developments, Freer was named a primary overseer of AKS Content, a new joint venture of Fox Networks Group and former 20th Century Fox chief creative officer Tony Sella. AKS focuses on developing branded, original content that will work across Fox Networks Group’s portfolio.
Chairman, NBC Sports Group
NBC has been winning Olympic gold across multiple platforms on Lazarus’ watch, and that pot will grow with the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. The host city is an hour ahead of U.S. Eastern time, so the network can televise premier events live in primetime. Speaking of live primetime sports NBC’s—and TV’s—top-rated show is Sunday Night Football. Through the NFL season’s first nine weeks, it averaged a primetime-best 8.6 live-plus-same-day number among viewers 18-49.
President, MGM Television and Digital Group
Super-producer Burnett’s fingerprints are all over TV. His slew of series cover each of the four major broadcast networks, including CBS’ Survivor, NBC’s The Voice, ABC’s Shark Tank and Fox’s Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader. His scope has also expanded to scripted fare such as The Dovekeepers and the popular A.D.: The Bible Continues this past year. The MGM role, announced Dec. 14, gives Burnett a much-bigger perch.
Managing Director (Los Angeles), Moelis & Co.
If local broadcasters are doing a giant deal, chances are Momtazee’s fingerprints are all over it. (Recall Local TV to Tribune, Hoak getting with Gray and Allbritton to Sinclair). Moelis & Co.’s star station broker brings stellar strategic thinking and creative dealmaking to the boardroom, and the patience to see transactions through. Just ask the folks at Meredith and Media General, whom he’s advised in his career.
President, Research and Media Development, NBCUniversal
A shift in viewing to smartphones, tablets and connected TV devices has created a dilemma for programmers as they seek to find out why video consumption continues to climb even as regular TV ratings fall. NBCU’s Wurtzel has emerged as a key leader and sleuth in the TV industry’s search for these elusive viewers amid a complex marketplace that now relies on a wide range of data sets spanning demographics and shifting consumer behaviors.
President and CEO, National Cable & Telecommunications Association
Powell, an eight-year member of the FCC and its chairman from 2001 to 2005, has helped the NCTA move beyond its cable-centric roots to embrace broadband and the high-tech future that Powell, a tech-head himself, embraces with gusto. He tends to speak softly but carries the big sticks of a keen intellect and the respect of both sides of the aisle.
As global chairman of GroupM, Irwin Gotlieb oversees billions of dollars of ad spending. GroupM has been a leader in acquiring data businesses, but Gotlieb says he still believes television is a vital medium as it improves its ability to target consumers. At a volatile time for advertising, expect Gotlieb to be on the leading edge of new ad technology.
President, COO and Executive Producer, Fox Sports
Skepticism abounded in 2013 when Shanks oversaw the launch of 24-hour sports networks Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2. But they appear to be profit-bound, lately adding Major League Baseball playoff series and higher-caliber college football and basketball games. FS1 has made strides as ESPN, though still a colossus, sheds subscribers and talent. Shanks also steers Fox Sports’ regional networks and the broadcast operation, which added the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the U.S. Open golf tournament in 2015.
President, Telemundo Network
Silberwasser has successfully headed up Telemundo’s efforts to gain its share of the growing audience of U.S. Hispanic viewers across platforms. Telemundo’s recent ratings success has been linked to a focus on original content, including its “Súper Series,” a twist on the telenovela genre with fewer episodes. It has also explored innovative ways to reach millennials. Next year will be another big one, with Telemundo holding Spanish-language rights to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Vice Chairman, President and CEO, Liberty Global
A 30-year cable veteran, Fries has grown Liberty Global from a mishmash of operators scattered across Europe into the largest international cable operator in the world, with 27 million customers and $18 billion in annual revenue. That clout has extended to content—it jointly purchased producer All3Media with Discovery Communications this year—and into wireless, with several agreements with carriers across the continent.
Executive Producer,Legend,Blindspot,The Flash,SupergirlandArrow
Greg Berlanti might be the hardest-working man in TV. He executive produces Blindspot and Mysteries of Laura on NBC; The Flash, Arrow and the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow on The CW; and Supergirl on CBS. With Blindspot nabbing an early renewal and The CW on the rise behind stalwarts Flash and Arrow, Berlanti’s portfolio proves superhero shows don’t have to be niche and broadcast shows can be hits.
Founder, Oculus VR
Led by Luckey and fueled by an astute $2 billion acquisition by Facebook in 2014, the Oculus name has become synonymous with virtual reality, the red-hot, rapidly evolving tech industry that is attracting reams of venture capital. Starting with products such as Samsung’s Gear VR headset and the coming Oculus Rift, Luckey’s platform is poised to power the lucrative future of virtual reality.
77.Emilio Azcárraga Jean
Chairman, President and CEO, Grupo Televisa
Group Televisa lays claim to being the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world. It produces more than 90,000 hours of original programming for 85 countries, including 50 million in the U.S. through its stake in Univision Communications. Azcárraga took over the family business at age 29, helping guide the company through rough financial seas to its current success as a broadcast, cable and programming powerhouse.
Creator, Executive Producer and Writer,The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead, AMC’s zombie apocalypse series executive-produced by Kirkman and based on his comic books, is the No. 1 show among adults 18-49 over the last three years. The show’s fall finale on Nov. 29 drew a 7.0 rating and nearly 14 million total viewers. The popularity of the AMC series, in its sixth season, spawned the fan-discussion series Talking Dead and, this summer, the prequel Fear the Walking Dead.
Commissioner, National Basketball Association
Silver last year executed one of the most seamless, successful transitions of power ever in a major sports league’s C-suite. He also scored a mammoth new nine-year, $24 billion media-rights deal with ESPN and Turner Sports that starts in 2016. The league has generated more revenue than it projected for two years running. In order to keep it that way, Silver may have to give players a larger slice of the pie when their labor agreement runs out late next year.
Host,The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Since taking over hosting duties for Jay Leno in 2014, Jimmy Fallon has consistently topped his late-night competitors (79% margin of victory in adults 18-49 in 2014-15). He’s done that by leading the way online with a bevy of celebrity viral clips making weekly rounds on the Internet and earning, in some cases, 50 million-plus views. He also signed a six-year extension with NBC this fall.
Chief Programming, Content and Brand Officer, Scripps Networks Interactive
Since August, Finch has headed all six SNI brands, after leading the home category to record ratings and revenues. Three of the programmer’s networks—Cooking Channel, HGTV and DIY—saw more than half of their returning shows post gains over last year. This is content that’s consumed in bulk and watched live. On many weekends, only ESPN gets more live cable tune-in than the SNI stable.
82.Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein
Marcus and Bernstein have changed syndication, introducing the multiweek test, which more producers and station groups are adopting. Their company, a subsidiary of Lionsgate, also bats with the big boys with such hit shows as Family Feud and Wendy Williams. And they aren’t afraid of taking a smart risk, as evidenced by their pioneering of the 90/10 production model with Tyler Perry and others.
Co-Founder, CEO, Vice Media
Vice has gone from a Montreal-based magazine to a multimedia powerhouse spanning 30 countries and valued at $5 billion. Despite its reputation as a gonzo news agency—its HBO show has featured Liberian heroin dens and cross-dressing cannibals—Vice has attracted old media such as The Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox as investors, looking to tap into its millennial zeitgeist. In 2016, it and A+E Networks will launch Viceland, its first cable channel, replacing H2.
Head of TV, WME Entertainment
Rosen’s clients include heavyweights such as Conan O’Brien, Dick Wolf, Howard Gordon and Tim Kring. The agency now reps more than half of all the scripted shows on TV and more unscripted broadcast, cable and syndicated shows on air than its competitors combined—everything from Homeland and Blindspot to Big Brother and BattleBots. In 2013, it joined private-equity investors in a $2.4 billion deal for IMG, which brought in a host of sports, fashion and celebrity clients.
Senior VP, The Capital Group
Gordon Crawford, whose counsel contributed to some of media’s biggest M&A deals for years, retired in 2012; many consider Barrett his worthy heir. Tracking how technology is changing consumer behavior and creating new business models is his focus, and he’s responsible for investments in media, Internet and telecom stocks such as Comcast and 21st Century Fox. Barrett gets valuable access to management before recommending investment in companies such as Netflix.
Nielsen will have a formidable opponent in measurement once the marriage of No. 2 comScore and No. 3 Rentrak is official, and Matta will head up that challenger. Matta and comScore-Rentrak will be poised to deliver a solution to the data mess, potentially giving clients and the media what he calls a “comprehensive cross-platform measurement currency that accounts for all the ways in which content is consumed.” In other words, he may help put a dent into the Nielsen monopoly.
Managing Director, UTA
Along with TV chief and partner Matt Rice, Sures oversees the television practice of talent and literary agency United Talent Agency. Sures, whose roster of powerhouse clients includes Chuck Lorre, Steven Levitan, Phil Rosenthal and Larry Wilmore, also supervises N.S. Bienstock, the news and unscripted agency, acquired in 2014, which handles the likes of Bill O’Reilly and much of the 60 Minutes gang.
Chairman, Wiley Rein
Wiley, chairman of the FCC from 1970 to 1977, has arguably been the most influential lobbyist, lawyer and counselor in media over the past several decades. The firm he founded in 1983, Wiley Rein, is well-known as a launching and landing pad for top FCC staffers, including commissioners. As head of the firm’s 80-person communications practice, his clients include AT&T, Verizon Communications, CBS Corp., Gannett and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
President and CEO, National Association of Broadcasters
Smith has been fighting for the business life of his members as the FCC reclaims as much TV-station spectrum as it can for wireless broadband in the coming incentive auction. Broadcasters remain a power to be reckoned with, which is one reason they’re still the go-to outlet for candidates seeking election. How Smith and stations deal with the auction-generated upheaval will determine broadcast TV’s future.
President and CEO, Yahoo
Has a more high-profile executive had a bumpier tenure of late? Yahoo spent $17 million and reached 15 million fans with a streamed NFL game from London—a move that may eventually pay off—but there have been fumbles, including Yahoo’s planned spinoff of its $30 billion stake in Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba, which looks tenuous. The former Google star and new mom of twins has new storms to weather—rumors of her ouster and the sale of the company. The next few months will be key.
Host,American Idol, and Chairman, Ryan Seacrest Productions
Seacrest’s highest-profile role is as the host of Idol, but it’s not like he’ll be resting after it ends this season. The morning drivetime radio DJ also has an on-air and production deal across networks NBC and E! His production company brought us E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians (the family just signed for four more years for $100 million, the biggest reality-TV deal in history) and NBC’s upcoming Shades of Blue.
Principal and Senior Analyst, MoffettNathanson
The longtime analyst and partner in MoffettNathanson Research is a leading voice (along with Marci Ryvicker of Wells Fargo Securities) on Wall Street watching the cable industry. He was early to question whether consumers would resist rising subscription prices, and now cord-cutting is a major industry concern. He’s become a bit more bullish recently because cloud-based technology could cut set-top box-related capital costs for operators. His opinions help move the market.
President, TBS and TNT and CCO, Turner Entertainment
Since joining Turner a little more than a year ago, the former Fox executive (he helped develop Empire over there) has announced major makeovers for TBS and TNT. As part of that, Reilly pledged to double the networks’ originals over the next three years in the hopes of finding that elusive hit. Already on the way—an eight-part series based on The Alienist and a sitcom from Conan O’Brien and The Office executive producer Greg Daniels.
Host,Steve HarveyandFamily Feud
Harvey is one of the most ubiquitous men in media. He’s been hosting his radio show since 2000. In 2010, he took over as host of Family Feud and grew the game show into a huge hit (scoring No. 1 in syndication honors in June for the first time ever). He launched his daytime talk show in 2012, and it’s a big year-over-year gainer.
CEO, LionTree LLC
Former UBS analyst Bourkoff opened boutique investment bank LionTree LLC in 2013 and quickly became a key adviser on some of cable’s biggest deals. Bourkoff is working on Charter Communications’ $89.1 billion acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks and will likely be in the middle of whatever else John Malone might have up his sleeve.
96.Creative Artists Agency
It is a team effort at CAA, where coheads Adam Berkowitz, Joe Cohen, Jeff Jacobs, Peter Micelli, Ted Miller, and Sonya Rosenfeld work with a wide range of scripted and unscripted potentates. CAA has engineered lucrative package deals for shows like Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond and Two and a Half Men. More recently, the company has built digital assets, selling House of Cards to Netflix and exploring synergies between its traditional A-list talent stable and emerging arms handling sports, digital and branded entertainment.
97. Dennis Kish
VP, Google Fiber
It’s often said that the cable industry does not move quickly unless it’s being jabbed by a sharp object, so consider Google Fiber the pointy stick that’s pushing it toward Gigabit-class broadband speeds, the kind needed to drive 4K streaming and other bit-intensive video applications. Google Fiber’s head stick-sharpener is Kish, who is pushing the provider on an aggressive rollout that will soon put the service in front of as many as 20 cities in two moves.
Host,The Ellen DeGeneres Show
DeGeneres’ syndicated talk show earns about $140 million annually. She has expanded that into a popular website, Ellentube, and iOS and Android apps, such as the video game Heads Up! She is also producing other projects, including sitcoms and game shows for various networks under her A Very Good Production shingle.
99.Cris Abrego and Charlie Corwin
Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs, Endemol Shine North America
This year, Endemol Shine North America, the production and distribution company, signed production deals with Randy Jackson and Steve Harvey, earned renewals for shows such as Ink Master and pickups for shows such as Hunted, and launched a trio of digital networks—lifestyle-focused Icon, with YouTube star Michelle Phan; Looksy, a pop culture-centric service; and Smasher, centered on sports and videogame culture.
Senior Counselor, Federal Communications Commission
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s top adviser came from the public interest ranks to offer counsel on key policies. Those initiatives include network-neutrality rules, for which she long advocated as a co-founder of Public Knowledge; and the decision to pre-empt state laws limiting builds of municipal broadband networks, both of which have been adopted. Sohn is viewed as one of the powers behind the regulatory throne.
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