Wheeler, Pai Praise Rosencrans, C-SPAN

At FCC's public meeting, chairman, commissioner mark death of cable pioneer

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and commissioner Ajit Pai took a moment during the FCC's public meeting Thursday to praise the late Robert Rosencrans, founder of UA-Columbia Cable and early C-SPAN backer, who died this week at age 89..

"We probably wouldn't have had C-SPAN had it not been for Bob," said Wheeler, who previously was head of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Wheeler called him one of the pioneers of the industry and "one of the finest guys you would ever want to meet."

Related:Cable Legend Rosencrans Dies

Wheeler said he had had the privilege of knowing Rosencrans, working with him and investing in start-ups alongside him -- Wheeler is also a former venture capitalist.

"When [C-SPAN founder] Brian Lamb got this crazy idea and he talked to the cable industry, it was Bob who stepped up, and I remember when that $75,000 check got cut -- that was the first check for C-SPAN."

He pointed out it was Rosencrans who made a satellite transponder available so that C-SPAN could get its signal up. "We're better off because Bob was among us," Wheeler concluded.

Pai began the tribute, saying he wanted to mark Rosencrans' passing publicly, given his role in launching C-SPAN. Pai said it was hard for a while when he was a kid "to figure out what the government was doing," but that C-SPAN "helped bring millions of Americans face-to-face with their own government, which is part of the reason why our proceedings are occasionally televised."