Cable industry pioneer Yolanda G. Barco-an influential attorney, cable executive and philanthropist-died May 27 at her home in Meadville, Pa. She was 74.
The general manager of Meadville Master Antenna-then one of the largest cable systems in the country-from 1953 through 1959, Barco later became vice president and treasurer of the company until its merger with Armstrong Communications Inc. in 1987, when she became a vice president and director of Armstrong.
In 1972, Barco was one of four cable-industry representatives on the Federal Communications Commission advisory committee on the development of regulatory policy. Her position against municipal regulation of cable television was later adopted in deregulatory actions taken by the FCC.
As an attorney, she challenged several early federal cable regulations, including the federal excise tax and municipal franchise, pole-attachment and copyright matters.
Other achievements include helping to found the Pennsylvania Cable & Telecommunications Association and Pennsylvania Cable Network, the first educational cable-television service in the country.
Barco became CEO of PCN in 1982 and later added the title of president to her duties in 1989. In 1999, she reduced her role to chairman and, later, chairman emeritus.
Barco received the National Cable Television Association's first "Idell Kaitz Memorial Award" in 1973 for the woman who "made the most significant contribution to the advancement of the cable-television industry."
"This network, this state and the entire cable-television industry are indebted to Yolanda for her tireless work in promoting the use of communications technology for public benefit," PCN president Brian Lockman said in a prepared statement. "She has been a champion of the common good and a role model for those who recognize the responsibility of business to give back to the community."
A member of the board of directors and the executive committee of the National Cable Television Center and Museum in Denver, the Barco Center Library at the museum is named in honor of her and her late father, George.
A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh Law School, Barco was also a major contributor to her alma mater. She served on the university's board of trustees, and the Barco Law Library at the school is named for her and her father.
She is survived by her sister, Helene Barco Duratz.
Barco was also president of The Barco-Duratz Foundation, a private charitable foundation established for the advancement of continuing education.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Barco Law Library at the University of Pittsburgh, the Barco Center Library, or the Meadville Public Library through P.O. Box 497, Meadville, Pa., 16335.