San Diego -- Michael Pandzik, founding president of the National Cable Television Cooperative and its leader for 21 years, is retiring, he announced at the group’s annual meeting here.
Pandzik helped to spearhead creation of the NCTC, which started off in 1984 with one-dozen Midwestern cable companies with fewer than 110,000 subscribers. It now encompasses 1,100 independent cable operators with 6,300 cable systems serving 14 million subscribers.
The co-op buys cable programming and hardware, negotiating volume-price discounts like large MSOs by grouping its small-system members together.
Tom Gleason, NCTC chairman and president of NewWave Communications, will serve as interim president of the co-op. Gleason, one of the NCTC’s original 12 members, will also lead the search for Pandzik’s replacement.
Pandzik will help with the transition following his exit, and he is expected to officially leave effective in early September.
Pandzik started his career in television in 1966 as a cameraman for the Nebraska Public Television Network. After graduate school at Kansas University, he moved into cable in 1970 as the second employee for Sunflower Cablevision in Lawrence, Kan.
He joined Home Box Office in 1978 to head up its sales and marketing office in Kansas City, later moving to New York to serve as HBO’s director of new-business development. He returned to Kansas City to serve as the NCTC’s founding president.
“Mike has grown this organization from its very small beginnings to what is now an integral part of the independent cable operator’s business,” Gleason said in a prepared statement. “We will miss his leadership and his dedication, but we respect his decision to retire.”