May 10, 2010
On Cable's Vanguard
A glimpse at the nine Vanguard honorees for 2010, who will be recognized during lunch on May 13.
Bonnie Hammer, President, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions
Plenty of people wondered, and some laughed, when Hammer announced her vision for re-making USA Network as a character-driven property several years ago. It’s the incredibly down-to-Earth Hammer who’s laughing now as USA routinely tops the cable ratings charts. “Bonnie has demonstrated an uncanny gift for marrying quality programming with popular success,” says Discovery Networks chief, admirer and former colleague David Zaslav. “Since Bonnie made the leap from broadcast to cable television back in the 1980s, her creative strength has grown as steadily as the medium itself.”
James Dolan, CEO, Cablevision
Literally one of cable’s chosen sons, Dolan became Cablevision’s President and CEO in 1995 and hasn’t looked back. Perhaps his best decision was putting Tom Rutledge in charge of day-to-day operations and putting (and keeping) other strong people in the right places. The result: Cablevision is one of the best performing MSOs.
Peter Stern, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer, Time Warner Cable
All you need to do to understand why Stern is this year’s Young Leadership honoree is to hear him speak. We’d swear sparks fly from his brain when he talks. As The Cable Center’s SVP Jana Henthorn says, “Peter’s mind works at warp speed. He is direct, focused and a delight to have in our corner.” He also was several years ahead of the crowd on TV Everywhere.
Cable Operations Management
Cathy Avgiris, SVP and GM, Communication and Data Services, Comcast
If a person can be more than the sum of his or her parts, then it must be so for Avgiris. She’s credited with moving Comcast’s legacy circuit-switched phone business into the forefront of residential phone service, serving nearly 8 million customers. Perhaps more important, Avgiris is an icon for non-engineer women moving into the tech side of cable, a trend that’s picking up momentum at several cable operators. Not surprisingly, Avgiris mentors women inside and outside of Comcast.
Associates & Affiliates
Howard Symons, Partner, Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo, P.C
It’s hard to find a Washington telecom lawyer with more experience, depth and analytical firepower than Symons, whose fingerprints are on almost every significant legal and regulatory filing that cable has issued in the last 20 years. “Howard’s Vanguard award is long overdue,” says retired colleague Frank Lloyd. “He’s been an inspiration...arriving in the mid-80’s as the first computer-literate attorney when most of us were still writing briefs and memos on long yellow pads.”
Govt & Community Relations
Sandy Wilson, VP, Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Cox Enterprises
A staple in DC’s legal community for years, Wilson’s been adding expertise to regulatory battles since she left the FCC to join Cox in 1994. When Cox’s longtime lobbyist Netch Netchvolodoff retired in ’06, Wilson was the obvious choice to replace him. “While issues and policies may change, Sandy is a constant,” says Cox EVP/CFO John Dyer. “She’s an exceptional leader...truly a vanguard.”
Josh Sapan, President and CEO, Rainbow Media Holdings
Rainbow’s eclectic stable of programming shines like Don Draper’s cuff links thanks to Sapan’s zen-like command, which has allowed the creative team freedom to take chances. “During his 23 years at Rainbow, Josh’s natural curiosity and creative vision have driven many innovations across multiple platforms,” says Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge. He’s right.
David Zagin, EVP, Distribution, A&E Television Networks
Zagin’s plate got heavier when Lifetime joined the AETN fold. The well-respected dealmaker oversaw the launch of Crime and Investigation HD and led AETN’s strategic planning on authentication. Besides overseeing affiliate sales revenue and distribution for 10 U.S. cable nets, he handles new media and business development for VOD, broadband, interactivity, gaming and mobile. Tired yet? “All of us at AETN could not be more thrilled that David is getting the industry recognition he richly deserves,” says AETN President/CEO Abbe Raven.
Science & Technology
Marwan Fawaz, EVP and CTO, Charter Communications
Charter has endured tough times, struggling with debt, eventually restructuring under bankruptcy protection. Despite that, the soft-spoken Fawaz has kept Charter on tech’s cutting edge with initiatives ranging from VOD to DOCSIS 3.0 to switched digital video. “Since I have known Marwan, it has been clear that he is vitally interested in exploring new ways of doing things,” says Mike Lovett, Charter’s Pres/CEO. “Charter is fortunate to have him at the vanguard of our team.”