SBCA Chief, Top Lobbyist Head for Exit

Washington— The Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association is expected to undergo a leadership shake-up early next month with the departure of longtime president Chuck Hewitt.

Also expected to leave is Andy Paul, SBCA's senior vice president and top Capitol Hill lobbyist.

Hewitt has led the SBCA — the Alexandria, Va.-based public-policy arm of the direct-broadcast satellite industry — for more than 15 years. Paul has been with the organization for at least a decade, sources said.

Hewitt has several years remaining on his contract, while Paul has about a year left on his, sources said. Neither man plans to retire and both would like to become DBS-industry consultants, sources said.

The SBCA board is scheduled to meet Aug. 1, one day before the start of its three-day national convention in Nashville. It is expected to accept the resignations of Hewitt and Paul and name Andy Wright, currently SBCA's vice president of government and legal affairs, as interim president, sources said.

The SBCA board is expected to announce that it will conduct a search to find Hewitt's replacement. Wright, a former aide to Rep. Rich Boucher (D-Va.), is expected to be a candidate for the group's top job.

Sources said the SBCA has been conducting an organizational review for some time, but were unable to say whether Hewitt and Paul's departures were associated with merger issues related to DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp., the nation's two largest direct-broadcast satellite carriers and the SBCA's dominant members.

Sources said they doubted the shake-up was related to SBCA's effort to block the FCC from issuing licenses to Northpoint Technology Ltd., which is trying to gain approval to share DBS spectrum to provide local broadcast-TV signals, cable networks and high-speed Internet access.

Both DirecTV and EchoStar have Washington lobbyists and outside lawyers and lobbyists on retainer.

Sources said the SBCA is planning to put more emphasis on government affairs and public relations in the months ahead. Some sources wondered about that shift, mainly because the trade group has been quite active on both fronts for years, they said.