April 20, 2012
By Amy Maclean
Comcast/NBCU DC pres Kyle McSlarrow chatted with CableFAX in his first interview since joining the company from NCTA. The first part of the discussion
appeared in Mon’s CFax Daily. Below McSlarrow reflects on his NCTA successor, public policy and the job itself.
How would you rate your 1st year on the job? It has exceeded my expectations. I’m not sure exactly what my expectations were. What I expected was a mix of public policy and a number of business/operational duties, and I’ve gotten that in spades. It’s been fun.
Are there any issues that you’ve watched pop up and thought, ‘I’m glad I’m not in Michael Powell’s chair right now’? I don’t think there are any new issues. And by the way, I think Michael’s done a superb job. I talk to him 4-5 times a week. The same kind of stresses that were present when I was there still exists. You still have to convey to all the membership why being unified is so important. Even though there are stresses and strains on programmers and operators, or even within each of those groups, there is still a lot more that unites us, or should unite us. I think Michael has done a really nice job of trying to constructively address divisions where they appear, but to keep people pointed down a path together. I wouldn’t say they’re any different than when I was there. I sort of concluded after 7 years that there are no new issues—they just keep getting repackaged and rebottled.
Is cybersecurity legislation necessary? There are real cyberthreats out there that we all have to find a way to work through and that really does require partnership among the relevant govt agencies and various industries—not just telecommunications. There are lots of industries in play. The greatest need from our perspective has been around information sharing. If you’re talking in a very targeted way, that’s a useful thing legislatively. When you expand beyond that into regulatory mandates and the potential risk of one-size-fits all mandates that would be outdated almost the day they were promulgated, that’s where we don’t think legislation is necessary. And it could actually undermine the overall goal of cybersecurity.
The Dept of Energy put out a request for more info on set-top boxes and power usage. Since you came from there, have you been following? I’ve been really pleased with how the industry stepped up on this. I don’t think there is a need for regulatory mandates. NCTA led a set of voluntary commitments, which we signed up for, that are all for the good… Again, the risk is people like rules, they don’t really understand the practical implications all the time of what a rule does when you’re talking about specific devices. It’s very hard to do when you’re talking about services that really require 24/7 access.
Given your background, do you have any thoughts on whether the industry’s volunteer commitment will placate DOE? I don’t know. With the conversations that we’ve had at national and state level, people have been very receptive and positive. Whether or not it’s enough, I don’t know.
What are you proud of in the past year? I joined the company for lots of reasons, but not least because of the people I knew at Comcast. From Brian and Steve to David Cohen to the people in this DC public policy office and throughout the company that I got to know over the years, and that was a great reason. But another reason was that I just thought it was a great company that had its compass in the right place. To be able to work in a company that is spending so much time and so much effort to really close the digital divide with Internet Essentials, that’s something. It puts a smile on your face to know you’re actually changing people’s lives through a bunch of people in this company who have been very creative and are very passionate about getting broadband extended to those who don’t currently have it. That’s something I’m really proud to be associated with.
Will you be participating in Saturday’s Comcast Cares Day? Yes. I’ll be at Langley Education Center in DC painting. I was there last year. It was great. A lot of fun.