Mitch Rose, passed over late last year as president of the National Association of Broadcasters, is leaving his government-relations post at The Walt Disney Co. to start his own lobbying group and work for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, three sources said Wednesday.
Rose confirmed his career move in a brief interview Wednesday afternoon, but he declined to discuss future work commitments. Sources speaking not for attribution said Rose has agreed to work as an outside consultant to the NCTA.
Rose should provide cable with help on Capitol Hill. He is a former aide to Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who urged the NAB to hire Rose over the man who got the job, David Rehr, former president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Stevens' aides have said that the 82-year-old senator and Rose share an almost-father-son closeness.
In terms of policy, Rose should be able to help cable get through to Stevens on the key issue of multicast must-carry. The NAB has been urging Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to require cable companies to carry every digital-programming stream transmitted by eligible local TV stations. That could be five or six channels, based on current technology. In the past, Stevens has endorsed multicast must-carry for nonentertainment programming.
Existing must-carry law requires cable carriage of just one programming service, according to FCC decisions in January 2001 and February 2005. FCC chairman Kevin Martin, a multicast must-carry supporter, voted against the 2005 ruling.
Stevens is also working on a new telecommunications bill -- a measure with big stakes for cable. The bill could ease Baby Bell entry into local cable markets, tax cable-modem service to fund broadband in rural markets and impose so-called network-neutrality mandates on cable high-speed-data networks.
Rose joined Disney in 2000, working under executive vice president of worldwide government relations Preston Padden.