Washington, the town where Comcast has waged many battles, successful and unsuccessful, to grow the business founder Ralph Roberts started, was quick to weigh in on the death of the cable pioneer and Comcast chairman emeritus Friday (June 19).
“NCTA is deeply saddened by the passing of Ralph Roberts, one of our country's greatest business pioneers and a man who truly embodied the American dream," said Michael Powell, president of the National Cable & Telecommunication Association (Comcast is its largest member). "He built much of the cable industry with his own hands, taking a small nascent service offering consumers greater television choices and building it into one of the most significant industries in the country today. Ralph's impact will live on forever."
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, a former president of the NCTA, said: “Ralph Roberts was a pioneer, an entrepreneur and a good man. It was my privilege to know, work with, and learn from Ralph. He has left a lasting legacy on the communications landscape of America.”
Association of Cable Communicators president Steve Jones said: "The cable industry has lost a true pioneer who took a small Mississippi cable company and built it into the powerhouse business that Comcast is today. He will be missed throughout the industry. My deepest condolences go out to his family."
Matt Polka, president of the American Cable Association, added, “Amid a digital revolution that disrupted and confused so many in the business world, Ralph Roberts saw the future clearly and encouraged Comcast to become a broadband and technology innovator benefiting industry and consumers here and around the world.
"At heart, Mr. Roberts was an entrepreneur, like so many of our members, and we will miss his passion for our industry," Polka said.
"The entire industry mourns the loss of Mr. Roberts, one of the country's greatest visionaries," said Maria Brennan, president of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT). "He served as a role model to others as a strong champion of diversity and inclusion. He will be greatly missed, though his lasting legacy remains."
C-SPAN executive Chairman Brian Lamb said: "Ralph Roberts is a great American success story. We have many fond memories of Ralph and greatly appreciate his company’s support for C-SPAN and Ralph’s overall commitment to civic involvement and public service."
Roberts appeared on the cable public affairs channel in 2002, testifying in the senate on the then proposed Comcast-AT&T Broadband merger.
"I thought he was a great pioneer, visionary and entrepreneur, but with it all a humble, genial and engaging human being. Really one of a kind," said Dick Wiley, chairman of Wiley Rein and former chairman of the FCC.
"Ralph Roberts lived the American Dream," said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.). "He turned a small business in Tupelo, Mississippi into one of the nation's largest and most successful media and technology companies. Ralph's work impacted an entire industry. Beyond his success in business Ralph Roberts was a deeply committed philanthropist who focused his work on communities throughout Philadelphia, our state and our nation. Today we reflect on his significant contributions and extend our deepest condolences to his family.”