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Robert Tudek, Cable Pioneer and Tele-Media Co-Founder, Dies, 86

Robert Tudek, 86, pioneering cable operator and co-founder of Tele-Media Corp., died of cancer June 20.

Tudek, a graduate of the University of Pittburgh, was vice president and general manager of Centre Video in State College, Pa., when he, along with partner Everett Mundy, in 1970 co-founded cable operator Tele-Media Corp., which launched with only a few hundred customers. Tudek was chairman, CEO and president of the one-time top 25 MSO.

Tele-Media grew to 500,000 subs before spinning off systems to TCI in 1984, and Time Warner/Fanch One Co. in 1996, according to Multichannel News reports. Mundy died in 2003, also of cancer.

American Cable Association president Matt Polka remembered Tudek Thursday as one of the great cable entrepreneurs, "seeing the potential of cable in smaller markets and rural areas long before anyone else did."

"He was more than an employer to his staff," said Polka, who once represented Tele-Media. "Rather, he was a mentor and an encourager. His company's initials, TMC, stood for Tudek, his partner, Everett Mundy, and their Co-Workers. Mr. Tudek gave me my first lessons in the cable industry as a young lawyer in 1986 representing his company in numerous agreements and transactions, and I will always be in his debt," added Polka.

Tudek is survived by his wife, Elsie, and two children, Robert Tudek Jr. and Peggy Tudek.

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.