The father of the cable-television industry passed away
last Tuesday, quietly and with dignity, as he had lived his life.
Bill Daniels was one of a handful of men who founded the
cable industry and watched it grow into the primary distribution system of entertainment
it has become today. A man of enormous pride and generosity, Bill was also a fierce
competitor, reflective of his early days as a boxing amateur and sports promoter.
I met Bill Daniels in 1987 in his Denver-based offices at
Cherry Creek when I was introduced as the new incoming publisher of Cablevision
magazine. A scheduled 10-minute meeting became one hour, as Bill impressed upon me the
importance of the trade press to the survival and prosperity of the industry.
Those were difficult times for the publishing industry, and
a number of cable trade publications were on the brink of failure, Cablevision
Bill pledged his support, and indeed, we partnered on a
number of special projects. One of those projects -- the "Cablevision Operator
of the Year" -- was named in his honor.
In the course of his lifetime, Bill participated in every
facet of the cable industry -- as an operator, a financial broker, a sports programmer and
an investor. But more than that, Bill functioned as a guardian and custodian of the
industry he loved. To anyone he cared about, Bill was a personal adviser and father
figure, sending along his infamous personal notes on the familiar blue-and-gray-bordered
stationary, which was a personal trademark.
I received the last of these notes just two weeks ago, in
which Bill continued his encouragement and wanted to know how those Cahners boys (our
current ownership) were treating us all and the publications in our care. I was pleased to
respond that we were doing well and Cablevision was still moving forward some 13
Bill was above all else a people guy. As Leo J. Hindery Jr.
once told me, Bill had the capacity "to make you feel unique and special" in his
eyes, and he kept these relationships strong even until the end.
Just two weeks ago -- through the efforts of Larry Oliver,
our group publisher, and Dick Alteri, head of the Cable Television &
Telecommunications Association of New York Inc. -- I was pleased to present an honorarium
to John Rigas, chairman of Adelphia Communications Corp., who addressed the recently
resurrected New York Cable Club.
After regaling the attendees with his early recollections
of the cable industry, John advised me to let Bill Daniels know that he "had said
nothing to embarrass the cable industry."
In a subsequent conversation that same day with Chuck
Dolan, chairman of Cablevision Systems Corp., I also mentioned my conversations with Bill
Daniels, and Chuck also indicated his regard for Bill, which I sent along in a note later
In this brave new world of broadband we now live in, it is
well to take a moment to acknowledge the contributions of the early founders, especially
The legacy of John Rigas and Chuck Dolan will be carried on
through their family members (Rigas' three sons, Timothy, Michael and James, and
Dolan's son, Jimmy). The legacy of Bill Daniels will be carried by all of those
disciples whom he touched in his time. His competitive spirit and commitment lives in many
of today's industry leaders too numerous to mention.
He reached out to me some 13 years ago in a personal and
professional way, which I will never forget. His interest in my family -- especially my
grandson, Will -- was extraordinary, and I know he has done much the same for a countless
number of persons in our business.
Bill Daniels was a patriot, a World War II hero, an
entrepreneur and a sportsman. He was my mentor, sponsor and supporter, but most important,
The industry has lost a father, but his spirit lives on. We
are all diminished by his loss.