Michael J. Eckert, who left the posts of president and CEO
of The Weather Channel in March, joined Video Networks Inc. as CEO two weeks ago.
Eckert's first VNI business trip was to two clients in
New York -- rep firms National Cable Communications and Petry Media Corp.
The VNI opportunity first arose "three or four weeks
ago," Eckert said. A 17-year TWC veteran, he had an ad-sales background at rep firm
John Blair & Co. and then at TWC. "I've always had an affinity for the
ad-sales side of things," he said.
Eckert replaces Tom Engdahl, a VNI founder, who is now
pursuing other ideas.
When Eckert left TWC, he said he would wait a while before
looking for a new job, and he had several fishing and skiing trips planned. He said at the
time that he "thought it might be time for a change."
The network hired National Cable Television Association
president Decker Anstrom to replace Eckert.
Launched in 1996, Atlanta-based VNI is involved in
satellite transmission of programming and commercials, as well as electronic data
At the recent Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau Local
Cable Sales Management Conference in Chicago, VNI said it had installed "EC
Tracker," its EDI system, at more than 100 cable-system sites represented by
spot-cable rep firm NCC.
The system provides seamless traffic-and-billing
transactions, as well as placement verification, the company said. "[VNI's]
relationship [with NCC] will deepen," he added.
VNI also handles similar duties for broadcast-TV rep Petry,
as well as news satellite transmission for NBC, he said.
"Eckert has a proven track record of leading and
providing the vision necessary to grow a start-up company," said Stephen Fleming,
general partner at Alliance Technology Ventures and a VNI board member, in a prepared
Eckert himself recalled that TWC had 12 people when he
joined (1981) and 65 when he became president (1991), versus 800 when he left.