BOSTON — The Cable Television Pioneers salutes its golden-anniversary class by honoring a group of industry professionals who are as much a part of cable’s vibrant present as of its storied past.
The 50th class of Pioneers — 14 industry executives who have made significant, groundbreaking contributions to television — includes Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, who helped build his family business into the No. 1 U.S. MSO and one of the world’s largest media companies; and Time Warner Inc. chairman and CEO Jeffrey Bewkes, who presided over the media conglomerate’s shift to focus on its core film and TV entertainment businesses.
Other members of the 50th anniversary class include Marwan Fawaz, a developer of the DOCSIS spec who served as CTO of two different cable companies and CEO of Motorola Home; Yvette Kanouff, senior VP of cloud solutions at Cisco Systems and one of the top women executives in the tech space; Peter Kiley, VP of affiliate relations at public-affairs network C-SPAN; and Leslie Ellis, longtime Multichannel News technology columnist.
This year’s honorees join the more than 700 men and women who comprise past Cable TV Pioneers classes, including the 21 entrepreneurs from the first Cable TV Pioneers class in 1966. They were honored on Sunday, May 15, at a banquet held at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston on the eve of INTX: The Internet and Television Expo. For more on the 2016 Cable TV Pioneers, visit cabletvpioneers.com.
Profiles in this section were written and reported by Craig Kuhl.
With his roots firmly planted at HBO and later at Time Warner Inc., Jeff Bewkes’ rise to his latest position as Time Warner’s CEO, and his repositioning of the company from a mixed portfolio of books, magazines and entertainment to a core business of filmed and broadcast entertainment, has been nothing short of spectacular.
His impact at HBO was felt early on, when he moved the programmer from its focus on theatrical films and sporting events to original programming, tripling the company’s profits and introducing its breakthrough programming venture, The Sopranos, to a worldwide audience. His success at HBO did not go unnoticed, and in 2002 he joined Time Warner’s Entertainment & Network Group, and then became the company’s chairman and CEO in 2008.
Along the way, Bewkes has been active in his community of Greenwich, Conn., supporting many nonprofit initiatives, and taking part in Media. NYC.2020, a New York City initiative to strengthen and grow the city’s media and technology sectors.
David Cerullo’s 40-year career as entrepreneur and businessman has included public relations and advertising startups, real estate development and construction, and, in 1990, the opportunity to resurrect a then-bankrupt Inspiration Network.
Call it divine intervention or a savvy spirit of entrepreneurship, but under Cerullo’s guidance INSP is now available worldwide, becoming the first network to receive national ratings from Rentrak; it later signed on as a Nielsen client.
Cerullo’s early construction experience paid off when he oversaw the development of the state-of-the-art Media- Comm studio complex in Charlotte, N.C.
Yet his pioneering efforts go beyond INSP (as the family-aimed network is now known) and include numerous humanitarian endeavors, most notably the programmer’s partnership with Convoy of Hope, an organization that provides relief and other services in response to natural disasters.
He has also found time to write eight books and has championed silent partnerships with numerous organizations that assist the needy worldwide.
Selling cable equipment for his father’s manufacturing representative firm, circa 1980, was all the inspiration Glenn Duval needed to begin his pioneering career in cable as a leader in providing amplifiers, standby power, test sets and myriad core cable components to a rapidly growing industry.
Since 1987, when Duval assumed leadership of the B.E. Duval Co. and renamed it Challenger Cable Sales, the company has become an integral part of the supply chain at every major U.S. MSO and in several international markets.
At one point, Challenger was one of the largest distributors of cable remote-control batteries in the country.
Duval would also diversify the company, moving into the power supply business for cable modems and set-top boxes and becoming a leading figure in the development of energy-efficient supplies.
Beyond his pioneering cable career, Duval is one of the original members of the Golden Gate Chapter of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers and a staunch supporter of The Cable Center. He is also an active adult leader in the Boy Scouts of America and founder of the University of California at Santa Barbara Volleyball Foundation.
Since Marwan Fawaz joined the cable industry in 1985, as a design engineer at Times Mirror Cable Television, he has been at the forefront of numerous technical launches — most notably DOCSIS 1.0 and its subsequent versions.
His impact on the cable industry has been felt not only through his technical advancements, but his savvy leadership as chief technology officer for two of the top five MSOs, and as CEO of Motorola Home.
His 30-year journey through the industry has included executive positions at some of the leading MSOs and startups, including MediaOne Group, Infinity Broadband and Charter Communications.
In addition to his pioneering role in developing DOCSIS, he was instrumental in launching voice-over-Internet protocol technology, switched digital video, HDTV, 3D Video, Ethernet business services and simulcast, among others.
He has also found time to author numerous technical papers, while serving as a director of Synacor and on advisory boards of ADT and Liberty Global.
Most notable among his many volunteer efforts are his role organizing industry training and educational activities, and his support for Habitat for Humanity fundraising and home-building efforts.
Leslie Ellis’s passion for all things technology, and her unique ability to translate dense, complex technical terms into readable prose, has earned her a well-deserved place in the Cable Pioneers class of 2016.
Ellis wrote the A-Z dictionary Definitive Broadband: Next Generation and other guides to broadband technology terms and definitions that have become the industry’s go-to reference sources.
She began her career in 1987, writing manuals for Telecommunications Product Corp., which made ad insertion gear. She served then served as managing editor of CED magazine, senior tech editor of Multichannel News, and senior tech analyst for Paul Kagan Associates. She writes the popular MCN column “Translation Please,” now in its 16th year.
As moderator of more than 200 panels, Q&As and video interviews, Ellis has become a respected figure in the industry. She also helped develop cableFIRST, an initiative to encourage cable personnel to mentor middle- and high-school students in FIRST Robotics competitions.
Outside of cable, Ellis is an avid beekeeper who co-founded the Women Who Bee beekeeping club and executive produced the documentary film Bee People. She maintains an active fund raising schedule for charitable organizations.
John Gibbs’s 30-year commitment to the cable industry as a valuable outside counsel, culminating in his current position as Comcast’s senior vice president of state government affairs, has earned him a place in this year’s class of Pioneers.
During cable’s early franchising years of the 1980s, Gibbs provided counsel on franchise transfer activities for Comcast’s acquisitions of AT&T Broadband and other major industry transactions, such as the AT&T-MediaOne Group, AT&T-Tele-Communications Inc. and America Online-Time Warner Inc. deals.
He also provided counsel to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association with respect to regulation of utility poles owned by municipalities and cooperatives.
Gibbs most recently was handed oversight of NBCUniversal’s state government affairs efforts, and coordinates the executive committee of Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, the company’s low-cost Internet service for lower-income households.
He continues his work as a key member of the NCTA’s state association advisory committee and state issues group.
His local volunteering efforts include work with his local park district and the Hennepin County (Minn.) Library Board, which manages a 41-library system.
In the late 1960s, while assisting with his father’s Master Antenna Television (MATV) service calls to hotels in Queens, N.Y, Steve Goldmintz knew a cable career was in his future.
It wasn’t long before he would begin work at a young cable company, Tele-PrompTer Cable TV in Manhattan, in 1974. His responsibilities were many, including sales manager, real estate manager, marketing analyst and other functions not uncommon during those early cable days.
He later joined Premium Channel Publishing, where for 15 years he produced marketing brochures for cable operators and created multi-pay guides.
Goldmintz moved into recruiting in 1999 and now manages the broadband, media and cable TV practice at Marcum Search LLC, a unit of accounting firm Marcum LLP.
As the long-heralded champion of the CTAM New York, his contributions beyond his work as consultant and cable recruiter have been invaluable to the industry’s marketing advancements.
Beyond his industry pioneering career, Goldmintz has volunteered and assisted numerous non-profit organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, WhyHunger and others.
John Heslip’s 40-year cable career has taken him from “assorted non-management positions” at Canada’s largest MSO, Rogers Cable, to his current position as senior vice president of access networks and technical operations for Comcast Cable.
His journey through the industry and his continued advancements of cable technology, engineering and plant management have earned him a place in this year’s class of Cable Pioneers.
Since those early days at Rogers, Heslip has been on the leading edge of network engineering, project management. For the past 15 years, he has focused on technical management, primarily overseeing network builds and rebuilds, most notably with fiber network deployment.
His signature accomplishments include successfully managing the largest North American MSO upgrade in cable history (AT&T Broadband), overseeing national technical operations involving more than 40,000 technicians and related staff.
His outside activities include assisting organizations such as the United Way and Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice in Evergreen, Colo., as well as mentoring numerous cable professionals.
Since her first days in cable at Time Warner Cable in 1994, Yvette Kanouff has been an inspiration to younger women entering the cable industry in the technology and engineering fields that early on consisted of few women.
Drawing on her 10 years of engineering and software development experience at Lockheed Martin (then Martin Marietta), Kanouff would join TWC as director of interactive technologies; she is now senior vice president of cloud solutions for Cisco Systems.
Along the way, there were stops at SeaChange International, where she would launch its VOD product line and eventually rise to president; and Cablevision Systems, where she served as chief technology officer and chief information officer.
Kanouff’s ability to inspire women to pursue careers in technology and engineering may be her lasting legacy, however. Her unique ability to absorb technical information, assimilate it quickly and add value to an operation has been one of her hallmarks.
Based on her leadership skills and engineering expertise, she became the first woman ever elected as chairman of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers, and has earned a well-deserved place in this year’s class of Pioneers.
Mark Lieberman’s move from the Department of Commerce, where he served as Deputy Secretary and Assistant Secretary for Technology, to the cable industry wasn’t exactly a normal career path.
But for Lieberman, his work on the multifaceted initiative to encourage competition in the media and telecommunications industry provided the credentials for a career in cable and entry into this year’s class of Pioneers.
He evolved into the rare executive that built and managed cable and technology companies, publishing empires and most recently joined Viamedia, the country’s largest independent TV advertising management solutions company as president and CEO.
His all-in commitment to the industry includes serving on the board of advisors at Adfin, a real-time insights company for programming and online advertising, and the Video Advertising Bureau (formerly Cable Advertising Bureau).
But charity has also been top of mind for Lieberman, where he has worked with several charitable organizations, including past president of the Leukemia Society’s New York chapter.
For 30 years, C-SPAN’s Peter Kiley has built a reputation as one of the most effective affiliate relations and public affairs professionals in the business.
His early days as listings coordinator at C-SPAN would lay the foundation for an impressive career at the cable public-affairs network, and lead to his entry into the 2016 class of Pioneers.
Kiley for four years managed the network’s two 45-foot, high-tech C-SPAN Buses as they toured the country producing programs to advance the community and educational efforts of cable operators.
Now C-SPAN’s vice president of affiliate relations, Kiley continues to serve on numerous boards and industry related committees, while assuming leadership roles at CTPAA, CTAM and the NCTA public affairs committee.
His efforts to raise funds for community projects and local schools, as well as his work in homeless shelters, have been an important part of his cable career.
He continues to manage C-SPAN’s national public affairs relationships with cable TV operators, satellite companies and other multichannel video providers.
In 1976, John Ogren would begin a distinguished cable career as a projectionist, delivering nightly playbacks of Cinevue feature films to pay TV customers of Continental Cablevision in Lansing, Mich.
Many consider his innovative moves in pay-per-view programming to be the forerunner of today’s video-on-demand delivery service. During his formative years at Continental, he designed and built internal company “electronic boards” — a precursor to email.
Armed with a firm knowledge of the cable industry and its potential, he spent 10 years at Harron Communications as regional vice president for its Michigan systems, doubling the company’s size and pioneering its deployment of the yet unknown 18-inch direct-broadcast satellite service.
His long-time fascination with data delivery led to the co-founding of SpeedConnect, one of the nation’s largest broadband wireless companies.
Ogren’s cable career has also meant serving on several cable and wireless industry boards, with his mantra of hard work and preparation serving him well.
In 1972, Mike Mason entered the cable business in the same fashion as many of the industry’s early pioneers — installing cable plant and working in myriad disciplines.
For the next 43 years, he would turn those early lessons as plant technician, rebuild manager, operations, system manager and more into a flourishing cable career and a spot in the 2016 class of Pioneers.
Now Comcast’s vice president of technical operations and engineering for the Oregon/Southwest Washington Region, Mason has continued to raise the bar for the industry by freely sharing best practices and mentoring countless young professionals.
His cable pioneering efforts go beyond his work resume, including a lifetime membership in the SCTE, a stint as president of the Montana Cable Association and time as director of several nonprofit organizations in Montana, Oregon and Washington.
Growing his family’s business into a $74.5 billion global media giant, while maneuvering it through myriad pitfalls and fostering a corporate culture of community involvement are among Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts’s credentials for the 2016 class of Pioneers.
Under Roberts’s leadership, Comcast has grown into a Fortune 50 company, uniquely positioning its two primary businesses — Comcast Cable and media company NBCUniversal — at the intersection of media and technology.
His steady guidance has earned him recognition as Fortune magazine’s Business person of the Year and a three-year run atop the cable and satellite sector on the Institutional Investor’s list of America’s Top CEOs.
Since joining Comcast (which his father, Ralph, co-founded) in 1981, his humanitarian efforts have paralleled his industry contributions and earned him numerous awards on that front as well. That spirit of giving back has been a cornerstone of the company’s culture under Roberts.
In addition, Roberts has advocated for the cable industry as chairman and a board member of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
Outside of his many industry achievements, the Roberts family has contributed $15 million to the University of Pennsylvania Health System, for the construction of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center, and continues its deep involvement with the city of Philadelphia.