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 and CEO[1]
Michael Powell

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) is the principal trade association for the US cable television industry, representing more than 90% of the US cable market,[2] more than 200 cable program networks, and 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].


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, in on May 1, 2001 NCTA changed its name for the second time. The new name, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association retained the same acronym.[3][4]


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.[5]

The current President and CEO of NCTA is Michael Powell, former head of the FCC, who replaced Kyle McSlarrow on April 25, 2011.[6] McSlarrow left for Comcast.[7]

Past Presidents of NCTA
Term Name
-1975:377[8] David Foster
1975-1979:377[8] Robert Schmidt
1979-1984[9] Tom Wheeler
1984-1993[10] James Mooney
1994-1999[11] Decker Anstrom
1999-2005[12] Robert Sachs
2005-2011[13][14] Kyle E. McSlarrow
2011–present[6] Michael Powell

Lobbying and advocacy[edit]

The NCTA is one of the largest lobbying organizations in the United States, spending about $12.0 million on political lobbying in the year 2014.[15]

NCTA opposed FCC's move to broaden the definition of multichannel video programming distributors to allow over the top internet based services to qualify, but added that if the definition of MVPDs was broadened, it should hold internet delivery to the same obligations as traditional cable services.[16] NCTA president Michael Powell opposes reforming the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to allow for a la carte pay television.[17]

In March 2014, NCTA supported the FCC's decision to open up the 100 MHz of spectrum for unlicensed Wi-Fi services.[18]

Internet issues[edit]

NCTA is a vocal opponent of net neutrality, urging the FCC not to codify its Net Neutrality rules in 2010.[19] In 2014, after the 2010 rules were thrown out in court, the NCTA ran ads in news media opposing reclassifying internet service under title II of the 1996 Telecomunications Act.[20] In 2014, ProPublica reported that NCTA were privately behind the "Onward Internet" campaign, which advocates an internet as free from rules.[21]

The NCTA was a supporter of the Stop Online Piracy Act of 2011, saying it gave copyright owners reasonable tools to protect their property.[22]

NCTA opposed the FCC's decision to raise the minimum internet speed for Connect America Fund broadband subsidies from 4mbit/s to 10mbit/s, claiming 4mbits was satisfactory.[23]

Following a model bill devised by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the NCTA has advocated for legislation prohibiting or restricting municipal broadband in many states.[24] When president Obama asked the FCC to preempt these laws in January 2015, NCTA defended the legislation, saying municipal projects are often costly failures.[25]

NCTA president Michael Powell has advocated for internet service providers to increase their use of data caps on internet use,[26] aiming not to reduce congestion, but to promote fairness.[27]

Events and subsidiaries[edit]

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. 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.[28]

After 55 years as The National Show, the NCTA decided to change the name of the convention in 2006 to The Cable Show.[29]

In 2012, The Cable Show was at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston from May 21–23.[30] In 2013, The Cable Show took place in Washington, DC from June 10–12.[31] In 2014, The Cable Show took place in Los Angeles.[1] For the 2015 show from May 5–7 in Chicago, The Cable Show was renamed "INTX: the Internet and Television Expo".[1]

The Cable Show features discussions with current and former FCC commissioners,[32][33] including remarks from the sitting chair of the FCC in 2010,[34] 2011,[35] 2012,[36] 2013,[37] and 2014.[38]

CableACE Awards[edit]

Main article: CableACE Award

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. The awards were discontinued after 1997, as the Emmys included cable television programming.

Cable in the Classroom[edit]

The association also provides management oversight of Cable in the Classroom, the cable industry’s education foundation.

Walter Kaitz Foundation[edit]

NCTA provides management and oversight to the Walter Kaitz Foundation, which promotes diversity in cable’s workforce, supplier chain, content, and marketing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kent Gibbons (19 Sep 2014). "NCTA: 'Cable Show' Convention Becoming INTX". MultiChannelNews. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  2. ^ Jim Puzzanghera (15 Mar 2011). "Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell named to lead cable TV's top lobbying group". LA Times. Retrieved 11 Jan 2015. 
  3. ^ Staff (30 Apr 2001). "NCTA name change is official". Business of Broadcasting Television and Cable. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  4. ^ "NCTA Changes Name". MediaPost. 3 May 2001. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  5. ^ "Current Board of Directors for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association". National Cable & Telecommunications Association. March 27, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Katy Bachman (15 Mar 2011). "Michael Powell to Head NCTA (Updated)". AdWeek. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  7. ^ NCTA Names Powell President, Multichannel News, March 15, 2011.
  8. ^ a b Patrick Parsons (5 Apr 2008). Blue Skies: A History of Cable Television. Temple University Press. 
  9. ^ K.C. Neel (26 Oct 2009). "Always Ahead of the Curve.(Core Capital Partners managing director Tom Wheeler)". High Beam Research. Retrieved 21 Jan 2015. 
  10. ^ Todd Spangler (24 Dec 2012). "James Mooney, Former NCTA Chief, Dead at 69". MultiChannelNews. Retrieved 21 Jan 2015. 
  11. ^ Mike Farrell (21 Jan 2015). "Anstrom Named 2015 Bresnan Ethics Award Recipient". MultiChannelNews. Retrieved 21 Jan 2015. 
  12. ^ John M. Higgins (21 Jun 2004). "Sachs Exits NCTA". Broadcasting and Cable. Retrieved 21 Jan 2015. 
  13. ^ Bill McConnell (25 Jan 2005). "McSlarrow Named to Head NCTA". Broadcasting and Cable. Retrieved 21 Jan 2015. 
  14. ^ Ted Hearn (20 Jan 2005). "NCTA's Mr. Right". MultiChannel News. Retrieved 26 Jan 2015. 
  15. ^ "National Cable & Telecommunications Assn: Summary". Open Secrets. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  16. ^ John Eggerton (19 Mar 2014). "NCTA To Senate: STELA Can Be Used For Retrans, Video Market Changes". MultiChannelNews. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  17. ^ Brad Reed (14 May 2013). "Top cable lobbyist: No ‘a la carte’ needed, cable companies already provide ‘unparalleled choice’". BGR. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  18. ^ Steve Donohue (31 Mar 2014). "Comcast, NCTA cheer FCC 5 GHz Wi-Fi order". Fierce Telecom. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  19. ^ John Eggerton (12 Oct 2010). "NCTA Opposes Net Neutrality Rules". MultiChannelNews. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  20. ^ Tony Romm (29 Dec 2014). "Net neutrality to dominate D.C.’s tech agenda". Politico. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  21. ^ Robert Faturechi (9 Oct 2014). "Mysterious Campaign Appears to be the Latest Salvo in Battle Over Net Neutrality". Pro Publica. Retrieved 1 Jan 2015. 
  22. ^ Chloe Albanesius (1 Nov 2011). "Will Online Piracy Bill Combat 'Rogue' Web Sites or Cripple the Internet?". PC Magazine. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  23. ^ Jon Brodkin (11 Dec 2014). "Ignoring AT&T and Verizon protests, FCC says "broadband" has to be 10Mbps". Ars Technica. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  24. ^ Jon Brodkin (12 Feb 2014). "ISP lobby has already won limits on public broadband in 20 states". Ars Technica. Retrieved 16 Jan 2015. 
  25. ^ Todd Shields and Margaret Talev (14 Jan 2015). "Obama Touts Well-Wired Iowa Town as Model for City-Run Web". Washington Post. Retrieved 16 Jan 2015. 
  26. ^ Brad Reed (23 Oct 2013). "Top cable lobbyist urges more ISPs to slap users with data caps". BGR. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  27. ^ John Eggerton (17 Jan 2013). "NCTA's Powell: Usage-Based Pricing About Fairness, Not Capacity". Broadcasting and Cable. Retrieved 30 Dec 2014. 
  28. ^ CABLE SHOW: The 2008 Vanguard Awards
  29. ^ Alan Breznick (16 Nov 2006). "What's in a Cable Name?". Light Reading. Retrieved 11 Jan 2015. 
  30. ^ The Cable Show Website
  31. ^ The Cable Show Website
  32. ^ NCTA (2 May 2008). "Key Public Policy Issues Featured at The 2008 Cable Show". Business Wire. Retrieved 11 Jan 2015. 
  33. ^ John Eggerton (4 Apr 2009). "2009 Cable Show: Praise for Cable from the Post-Martin FCC". Broadcasting and Cable. Retrieved 11 Jan 2015. 
  34. ^ NCTA (24 Mar 2010). "FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to Appear at The Cable Show 2010". PR Newswire. Retrieved 11 Jan 2015. 
  35. ^ John Eggerton (15 Jun 2011). "The Cable Show 2011: Genachowski: Broadband Adoption 'Just Not Good Enough'". Broadcasting and Cable. Retrieved 11 Jan 2015. 
  36. ^ Alex Ben Block (22 May 2012). "Cable Show 2012: NCTA President Praises FCC's Broadband Campaign". Holywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 Jan 2015. 
  37. ^ Mariko Hewer (11 Jun 2013). "FCC's Clyburn emphasizes importance of increasing broadband, digital literacy". Fierce Cable. Retrieved 11 Jan 2015. 
  38. ^ Alex Ben Block (30 Apr 2014). "NCTA 2014: FCC Chairman Tells Cable to Expand Broadband but Ensure Fair and Reasonable Access". Holywood Reporter. Retrieved 11 Jan 2015. 

External links[edit]