National Cable & Telecommunications Association

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National Cable & Telecommunications Association
Founded 1952
Type Trade association
  • 25 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, DC 20001
President Michael Powell

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) is the principal trade association for the U.S. cable TV industry, representing cable operators serving more than 90 percent of the nation’s cable households and more than 200 cable program networks, as well as equipment suppliers and providers of other services to the cable industry. Officially founded in 1952, NCTA's primary mission is to provide its members with a strong national presence by providing a single, unified voice on issues affecting the cable and telecommunications industry.

From its inception, NCTA has promoted the growth of the cable industry while managing the industry’s regulatory and legislative priorities[citation needed]. The cable industry is the nation’s largest broadband provider of high speed Internet access after investing $100 billion over 10 years to build a two-way interactive network with fiber optic technology[citation needed]. Cable companies also provide digital telephone service to more than 15 million American consumers.


NCTA first was organized as the National Community Television Council in September 1951, when a small group of community antenna (CATV) operators met at a hotel in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. They gathered in response to concern over the Internal Revenue Service's attempts to impose an 8% excise tax on their operations. These business people quickly became aware of other common interests, leading to a series of organizational meetings during September and October 1951 and January 1952. In January 1952, the organization's name officially was changed to National Community Television Association.

NCTA's growth kept pace with the rapidly expanding CATV industry. Within its first year, nearly 40 CATV systems joined the organization. Membership then grew into hundreds by the end of the 1950s and thousands by the end of the 1960s. In the 1960s, the term "Community Antenna Television (CATV)" gave way to the term "cable," reflecting the industry's expanded categories of service – including local news, weather information, and channels of pay television. Accordingly, in 1968, NCTA – while retaining its acronym – changed its official name for the first time, to National Cable Television Association.

Following the introduction of global telecommunication satellites, the late 1970s and 1980s saw initial explosive growth in cable content, as entrepreneurs gave birth to such networks as CNN, ESPN, MTV, BET, TBS, USA, Discovery, Lifetime, C-SPAN, and eventually hundreds of other channels. During this period, virtually all of the nation’s major programming services also joined NCTA, providing a new dimension to the organization’s representation of cable interests in Washington.

The mid-1990s marked the beginning of cable’s transformation from a one-way video provider to a much broader interactive telecommunications solution. By 2006, cable operators had largely completed a national fiber optic upgrade which enables them to provide consumers new services such as high definition television, high-speed Internet access, digital phone, and digital video recording.

To reflect this transformation, NCTA in 2001 – while again retaining its acronym – changed its name for the second time to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.[1]

Today, NCTA remains headquartered in Washington, D.C. The association also provides management oversight of two non-profit organizations: Cable in the Classroom, the cable industry’s education foundation, and the Walter Kaitz Foundation, which promotes diversity in cable’s workforce, supplier chain, content, and marketing.


NCTA is governed by a Board of Directors. As of March 2012, the Chairman of the Board of Directors was Patrick Esser, President of Cox Communications.[2]

The current President & CEO of NCTA is Michael Powell, former head of the FCC, who replaced Kyle McSlarrow in April 2011. McSlarrow left for Comcast.[3]

Other past NCTA presidents include Robert Sachs, Decker Anstrom, Jim Mooney, Tom Wheeler, and Bob Schmidt.[4]

The Cable Show[edit]

NCTA is host to The Cable Show (formerly The National Show), the largest annual cable and broadband convention and trade show in the United States. The location and time for this event changes yearly. In 2012, The Cable Show was at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston from May 21–23.[5] The Cable Show took place in Washington, DC in 2013 from June 10–12.[6]

During The Cable Show, the Vanguard Awards are presented by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Award winners are nominated by the NCTA membership and selected by an Awards Committee composed of members from NCTA Board of Directors as well as former award winners.[7]

CableACE Awards[edit]

From 1978 through 1997, NCTA sponsored the CableACE Award to honor excellence in American cable television programming. It was a counterpart to the Emmy which previously did not recognize cable programming. After 1997, the Emmys included cable television programming, making the CableACEs obsolete.


External links[edit]