The NCTA bagged a one of the Beltway’s power player as its new president and CEO: former FCC chairman Michael K. Powell. His first day on the job will be April 25.
Powell succeeds Kyle McSlarrow, who was recently hired by Comcast/NBC Universal to be its president, Washington, D.C.
Powell currently is a senior advisor with Providence Equity Partners and Honorary Co-Chair of Broadband for America. Powell was a member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 1997 to 2005, the last four years serving as chairman. He is the son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Powell was appointed to the FCC right after the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and his tenure coincided with the rapid development of the Internet and the first steps toward competition in the communications market.
Powell was staunchly deregulatory. His tenure was marked by fights to keep broadband from becoming subject to long-standing telecommunications rules. One of the most important, especially to cable, was the Brand X decision.
The argument was about whether to force broadband providers to share access on their networks with competitors in the same manner that phone companies were compelled to share theirs. The FCC was opposed; the argument went to the Supreme Court, which validated the FCC position.
The Powell-era FCC also adopted a hands-off approach to media consolidation.
Despite his largely doctrinaire anti-regulatory approach, Powell helped formulate some of the first network neutrality principles. The Powell-led FCC in March 2005 fined Madison River Communications for blocking voice over IP traffic from competitors.
As CEO for NCTA, Powell will serve as the cable industry’s leading advocate and spokesman, and will provide an important strategic voice on the direction of the industry, the organization said.
In a statement, Powell said, “Cable is a dynamic and highly innovative industry, providing cutting edge services and content that Americans love,” Powell said. “The broadband platform the industry has deployed is a critical part of the infrastructure needed to realize our national ambition to be a great nation in the Information Age. I am excited to help lead companies committed not only to their businesses, but to improving U.S. competitiveness and supporting invaluable programs in important areas such as education.”
“Michael Powell is one of the most well respected and influential visionaries in all of telecommunications, and we’re so proud to have him join the cable team,” said Patrick J. Esser, Chair of the NCTA board of directors and president, Cox Communications.