Cable Pioneer Greg Liptak Dies

Former Jones Executive Founded CTAM and Chaired the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau
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Greg Liptak, the former group president of Jones International and the founder and first president of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM), died Saturday, May 4, his family reported this week. He was 73.

The family has scheduled a funeral mass followed by a reception for Liptak on Wednesday, May 15 at 10:30 a.m. Mountain Time at the St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church in Littleton, Colo. In lieu of gifts or flowers, the family respectfully asks that donations are made to the American Cancer  Society.

Before joining Jones, which ran a top U.S. cable MSO that was acquired by Comcast in 1999, in 1985, Liptak, a cable pioneer who was well versed in all facets of the cable industry, served ten years as the executive vice president of Times Mirror Cable Television in southern California. Before that, he was vice president/marketing for United Cable in Austin, Texas, and was a local newscaster in Decatur, Ill., before marrying his wife of 46 years, Stevie.

Liptak was appointed group president of Jones International in 1996, after serving as president of several other Jones companies.

He is also the founder and first president of CTAM. In 1991, Liptak was awarded the first CTAM/Roy Mehlman Award -- an acknowledgement of his personal and professional contributions to the cable television industry.

In a 1999 oral history interview posted at The Cable Center Web site, Liptak discussed how the launch of HBO's satellite distribution helped to lead to the formation of CTAM in 1975 as the cable industry tried to come to grips with how to sell the premium service. He recalled telling his cable colleagues that “we really need a forum to discuss how to do this. How do we launch this new animal, pay TV? And maybe, more importantly, how do we figure out what not to do.”

The thing to avoid was the so-called “negative option,” whereby some cable operators put the service on a cable system and then start charging customers, removing it only when people called to say they didn’t want it. “Well, several attorneys… in the U.S. came down on those cable operators and said, you can’t do that. So we had to figure out a way of how to properly market cable.”

Continuing in that marketing vein, Liptak also served as chairman of the board of the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau (CAB) from 1993 to 1995, and also served the boards of C-SPAN, CATA (Cable Telecommunications Association) and the National Cable Television Cooperative.  In 1989, Liptak was appointed by Colorado Governor Roy Romer to serve on the state's Telecommunications Advisory Committee to represent the cable television industry.

“Many of his more recent contributions were driven by his love for Roxborough Park and its residents,” Liptak’s family said, in a statement. “Greg had a unique ability to think of ways to improve the community, marshal the resources to see them through and then lead the charge. He always had a cause or an initiative about the Roxborough Park Foundation that excited him. And he always looked for ways to bring us together.”

Liptak earned his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Illinois and is father of two children, Christine and Gregory.