Fred M. Dressler, former executive vice president of programming at Time Warner Cable, died Dec. 24 after several months of battling pancreatic cancer. He was 66.
Dressler -- a prominent and well-regarded industry executive whose cable career spanned 30 years -- retired from Time Warner Cable at the end of 2006. He spent 20 of those years heading up the company’s programming operation, where he built a reputation for innovation and as a tough but fair negotiator with networks seeking carriage on the cable operator.
He was a vocal critic of high sports-network costs and is credited for establishing the separate digital sports tier. He also helped to lead the cable company’s efforts in video-on-demand, digital-video recorders and HD programming.
After leaving Time Warner Cable, Dressler’s extensive industry experience was in great demand and he continued to consult and advise such media firms as the British Broadcasting Corp., Crown Media Holdings, MusicNet, Retirement Living TV and Univision.
“Fred was quite simply a great teacher, mentor and friend,” said Andy Heller, Turner Network Sales’ president of domestic distribution. “His continuous acts of selflessness have left their mark on me and countless others in the industry. He constantly thought about my personal and professional growth. He always gave me the tools and the opportunity to prove myself and then stepped back in the shadows, giving me the platform to shine on my own. I will continue to strive to be the same kind of mentor to others as he was to me.”
Dressler was in journalism before he was in cable. During his tenure as a political reporter and editorial director for KBTV in Denver, he was introduced to cable pioneer Bill Daniels, who eventually lured Dressler to the cable industry.
In 1976, Dressler joined Daniels at ATC, which would later become Time Warner Cable. Dressler managed cable systems in Shreveport, La.; Fresno Calif.; and Denver before working his way into the corporate offices.
“Words cannot adequately express the sense of loss we all feel at this time. Fred was responsible for much of what Time Warner Cable stands for today,” Time Warner Cable president and CEO Glenn Britt said.
“His reputation as a fierce negotiator was always tempered by his humor and sense of fairness,” he added. “His legacy will be felt for many years not just in our programming department, but throughout our organization and the industry. The best characterization I can think of to describe Fred is ‘revered.’ Fred was revered for his intellect, his wit, his perspective, his vision and his humanity. We will miss him very much.”
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