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James Mooney, Lobbying Leader In Turbulent 1980s, Dies at 69

James Mooney, Lobbying Leader In Turbulent 1980s, Dies at 69 1/06/2013 7:00 PM Eastern

James Mooney, who as head of what is now the National Cable & Telecommunications Association successfully persuaded Congress to deregulate the industry, died Friday, Dec. 21. He was 69.

Mooney died at his home on Bainbridge Island, Wash., after a decade-long fight against kidney cancer, his family said. This June, the Cable Center will induct him and five other executives into the Cable Hall of Fame.

Mooney served from 1984 to 1993 as president and CEO of NCTA, then known as the National Cable Television Association. He was the principal strategist in the efforts that resulted in the Congressional enactment of the deregulatory Cable Communications Act of 1984.

Hired away by NCTA from his job as chief of staff to Rep. John Brademas (D-Ind.), the House majority whip, in 1980, Mooney developed a successful strategy targeting first the Senate, then the House, for legislation establishing federal policy for cable, superseding a hodgepodge of state and local authorities at a time when cable was expanding rapidly.

Later in his tenure, Congress re-regulated the cable industry, despite lobbying opposition from the NCTA. President George H.W. Bush vetoed the 1992 Cable Act, but Congress overturned the veto, the only time that happened in Bush’s presidency.

In a 2002 oral history published by the Cable Center, Mooney called the ’92 act and the stringent rate regulation implemented in 1993 “a great depressing thing” for the industry. But, he added, “I think that the industry suff ered no permanent damage from the ‘92 Act, in part due to the fact that the ‘96 Act came along within a few years.”

The 1996 Telecommunications Act removed most of the rate regulations. By then, Mooney had retired, and he and his wife, Louise, and their son, Jimmy, had moved to Bainbridge Island.

Most recently, he was principal and managing partner of JLM Partners, a Seattle-based corporatecommunications firm he founded with Louise.

In retirement, he also earned a reputation for his poignant letters to the editor of the local newspaper, addressing subjects ranging from elementary school math curriculum to municipal politics, his family said.

Among his accolades and awards, in 1986 Mooney was the recipient of the first Cable Pioneers Award for Leadership in the cable industry. He also was a member of CableLabs’ founding board of directors.

“The cable community mourns the passing of Jim Mooney, our strong and dedicated leader during an era of extraordinary industry growth when cable helped define American culture,” NCTA president and CEO Michael Powell said in a statement. “Jim’s leadership in Washington aided in enabling development of the modern cable industry.”

Mooney is survived by his wife, Louise Rauscher Mooney, herself a former NCTA executive, and their son, James P. Mooney IV. The family has asked for donations to the Hospice of Kitsap County in lieu of flowers.

Ex-Cable Exec Backs Support for Parents In Time of Grief

The Newtown, Conn., elementaryschool shootings on Dec. 14 that killed 20 young children and six adults may inspire tougher gun-control laws.

Barry Kluger hopes lawmakers also help working parents take the time necessary to grieve for a lost child.

In 2001, after his 18-year-old daughter, Erica, was killed in a car accident, the former MTV executive was able to take personal time off to seek support.

Many parents, though, feel pressure to go back to work in two or three days, before they are emotionally ready.

To help them, Kluger and another grieving father, Kelly Farley, last year drafted an amendment to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 that would give parents the same right to 12 weeks’ unpaid leave the law provides to have or adopt a child — but not to bury a child.

Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, sponsored the Parental Bereavement Act in 2011 to amend the law. It had five co-sponsors, and more than 42,000 have signed a petition of support.

Kluger and Farley have scheduled 20 meetings with legislators for early February. “The bill was going to be introduced anyway,” Kluger said. “This may lead it to be fast-tracked and get a lot more attention.”

The hope is that legislation will be introduced in both the Senate and the House on Feb. 5, marking the 20th anniversary of the 1993 law.

It’s something Kluger and Farley hope will happen — and now do so on behalf of “40 more parents who unfortunately have joined the club.”

— Kent Gibbons

Here Comes the Judge: Brenner Takes a Bench In L.A. County Court

Veteran cable attorney Dan Brenner got an unexpected holiday gift. He was named a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.

Brenner, who was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, has been a partner at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., and before that was senior VP at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. He is also a former top aide to then-FCC chairman Mark Fowler. Brenner was sworn in on Dec. 31.

“I applied in 2011 and was interviewed and recommended by the state bar judicial commission after a formal review,” he told The Wire last week.

The process can take 18 months, but it still came as a surprise when Brenner was told by the governor’s office, at 10 p.m. on Christmas night, that he had been selected. His last contact on the matter had been in February, when he interviewed with the governor’s appointments secretary.

“I’ve enjoyed my nearly 35 years in communications law and hope to stay abreast of developments in the field,” he said. “I’ve been so fortunate to see up close so many important advances in this field. The opportunity to do something meaningful in the justice system is an appealing next step for me.”

— John Eggerton