Denver -- A key executive in the cable industry's
standards-setting initiative is taking the helm at AT&T Corp.'s National Digital
Television Center, following the sudden departure of its president, David Beddow.
Laurie Schwartz, previously vice president of advanced
platforms and services for the industry's Cable Television Laboratories Inc.
consortium, was named president and CEO of the Littleton, Colo.-based NDTC last week.
She was also named senior vice president of AT&T
Broadband & Internet Services, which owns the former Tele-Communications Inc. cable
In her new position, Schwartz is responsible for all NDTC
operations, including the Headend in the Sky service; program production and origination;
digital compression; and transmission services.
At CableLabs, Schwartz was in charge of the industry's
OpenCable initiative to develop specifications for digital set-top boxes, making them
interoperable with cable infrastructure from all manufacturers.
Previously, she held key roles in the creation of Bell
Atlantic Network Services Inc.'s Switched Broadband Network, as well as creating the
company's testing lab for broadband platforms and services.
Although none of the parties would comment on the move,
there had been speculation for some time that Beddow would leave due to repeated clashes
with Leo J. Hindery Jr., former Tele-Communications Inc. president and chief operating
officer and now president and CEO of AT&T Broadband.
Beddow left for a position at Liberty Media Group, the
AT&T programming subsidiary controlled by chairman John C. Malone, where he will
analyze new technologies and coordinate the company's technology investments.
Sources said Beddow had been planning to move to Liberty
eventually to work with Malone, and the conflicts with Hindery accelerated that departure.
Beddow joined TCI in 1993 after holding various positions
at satellite companies PrimeStar Inc. and Comsat Corp. Before becoming executive vice
president of TCI Technology Ventures and president of the NDTC, Beddow led the planning,
design and implementation of the center as senior vice president of TCI Technology Inc.
All of the AT&T changes take place in the context of a
consolidation of AT&T Broadband's engineering and technical initiatives under
Tony Werner, executive vice president of engineering and technical operations and the
unit's chief technology officer. Schwartz's NDTC operation will report directly
to Werner, who was already in charge of AT&T Broadband's engineering functions,
such as ongoing rebuilds of cable systems and activation of two-way cable plant.