National Cable Television Cooperative CEO Rich Fickle will step down from that position at the end of the year, after a decade leading the small operator buying consortium.
Fickle joined NCTC in 2011 after spending 10 years at Ascent Communications. Fickle, who has more than 40 years experience in the cable industry, was only the third CEO in the organization’s history, succeeding former Adelphia Communications executive Jeff Abbas and NCTC founder Mike Pandzik.
In a memo to NCTC members Monday, Fickle said the time was right for new blood at the organization.
“After an incredible 10 years as CEO of the NCTC, I have made the tough decision that it is time to step aside and allow for [a] new CEO to step in who can continue to bring fresh ideas and leadership at the NCTC,” Fickle said in the memo, which according to sources went out several weeks ago. “NCTC is in a great place coming off several successful years and is poised to do even more for you all in future years.
“NCTC is in a strong financial condition, we successfully continue to expand the number of programming agreements managed for members and have established a strong foundation in broadband and technology purchasing services,” Fickle continued. “The team remains dedicated to helping members as both challenges and opportunities emerge.”
The NCTC was founded in 1984 by Pandzik, and serves as a buying cooperative for more than 700 small and medium sized cable companies across the country for everything from technical equipment to programming. The organization also holds one of the last remaining nationwide cable shows, The Independent Show.
Under Fickle’s leadership, NCTC has forged deals with virtual MVPDs like fuboTV and entered into a deal with Mobi TV in 2017 for an IPTV service for its members as they shifted their focus to broadband. Mobi TV filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month. NCTC also has begun negotiating retransmission consent deals for its membership after the Federal Communications Commission ruled last year the buying group would have the same good faith protections as individual MVPDs.
NCTC said a search for a replacement is underway and has hired executive search firm Carlsen Resources.
“A true partner, friend and visionary executive, Rich led the NCTC over the past decade to extraordinary new heights during a time of disruptive innovation that shows no signs of abating," said ACA Connects President Matt Polka, whose small and midsized members relied on the collective clout of NCTC. “Because of Rich’s skill, commitment and thought leadership, NCTC has flourished, and our two organizations have never been closer. We have made tremendous strides, and we are in position to make even more progress in the future for the benefit of our members as they compete in the dynamic video and broadband marketplaces and in the Washington, D.C., policy arena.... I know I speak for the entire ACA Connects team in saying that our relationship with Rich was incredibly rewarding."
Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.
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