Wheeler, Pai Praise Rosencrans, C-SPAN

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and commissioner Ajit Pai took a moment during the FCC's public meeting Thursday to praise the late Robert Rosencrans, founder of UA-Columbia Cable and early C-SPAN backer, who died this week at age 89.

"We probably wouldn't have had C-SPAN had it not been for Bob," said Wheeler, who is the former head of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Wheeler called him one of the pioneers of the industry and "one of the finest guys you would ever want to meet."

Wheeler said he had had the privilege of knowing Rosencrans, working with him, and investing in start-ups alongside him—Wheeler is also a former venture capitalist.

"When [C-SPAN founder] Brian Lamb got this crazy idea and he talked to the cable industry, it was Bob who stepped up, and I remember when that $75,000 check got cut that was the first check for C-SPAN." He pointed out it was Rosencrans who made a satellite transponder available so that C-SPAN could get its signal up. "We're better off because Bob was among us," he concluded.

Pai began the tribute, saying he wanted to mark Rosencrans' passing publicly given his role in launching C-SPAN. Pai said that it was hard for a while when he was a kid "to figure out what the government was doing," but that C-SPAN "helped bring millions of Americans face to face with their own government, which is part of the reason why our proceedings are occasionally televised."

John Eggerton

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.