Cable Hall of Fame: Honorees Emphasize Support, Family

The Ziegfield Ballroom in NYC put on its cable top-hat Wednesday night for The Cable Center’s Hall of Fame celebration to induct this year’s honorees, most of whom cited luck, hard work and support from family as the source of their career success.

Advance/Newhouse pres Nomi Bergman said she’s proud to be “an example of both a woman and a person with a giving style and who has been able to find success without compromising those qualities.” She even dialed in her dad and industry legend Bob Miron on her cell from the stage, getting laughs when she exclaimed to the room “he hung up!”. She credited him and the rest of her family for her values, noting that “success does not have to come at someone else’s expense.”

Charter pres/COO John Bickham, who endured some ribbing from other execs during his induction video stemming from his love of sticky notes and his “low responder” style that makes him hard to read in meetings, quoted Calvin Coolidge, who believed that persistence and determination are more effective than genius or talent. That persistence led to a job at Time Warner Cable corporate in 1998, and he admitted that “I thought I was well on my way to running Time Warner Cable. I had no idea it would take another 18 years to do that.”

Liberty Latin America pres/CEO Balan Nair said life is like juggling three balls: a rubber ball that bounces back and represents your job; a steel ball that doesn’t come back if it falls, representing your health; and a crystal ball that you can never drop. “If it drops it shatters,” he said. “That’s your family. Don’t let your family drop. It’s the most important thing to all of us here, and that’s why we come to work every day.”

HBO chmn/CEO Richard Plepler called his daily work routine a “transcendent experience” because of his fellow execs. “Every one of them is far better at what they do than I could ever be,” he said. The exec said that while he invited his 14-year-old daughter to join he and his wife at the Cable Center induction, “she just kind of looked at me and said, ‘you know Daddy, I think I’m just going to stay home and watch Netflix ’.” And speaking of competitors, Plepler thanked Starz chief Chris Albrecht, who used to run HBO, for teaching him to take risks by “throwing deep” with creative projects.

Comcast vice chmn Neil Smit recounted an episode from his Seal Team training when during Hell Week—a week of sleep deprivation and hard physical labor for recruits—a senior officer told him his team might be falling behind. Smit consulted with the team, which disagreed, so he concurred, teaching him lessons about backing up your people. “This industry and Comcast has given so much to me over the years,” he said. “It has been an honor and a privilege.” Smit said his family has been his biggest rock and stuck with him through it all. “There’s not a challenge they have ever failed to meet,” he said.

Also inducted was the AMC mega-hit “Breaking Bad,” whose creator Vince Gilligan was on hand to thank Tom Rutledge and John Bickham, who at the time were running AMC Network s owner Cablevision and took a big risk signing off on a $50mln investment for a show about a 50-year-old, meth-dealing high-school teacher. “Thanks to you guys for greenlighting this show,” he said, pointing to them in the audience. “Whatever happened to you guys? Are you still in the business?” Gilligan said AMC’s willingness to take a chance changed his life, and “I could not be more proud than to be up here following David Chase and ‘The Sopranos’,” which was inducted last year.

Also receiving recognition Wed night was industry veteran June Travis, who took home the Bresnan Ethics in Business Award for her years of service to cable and its many organizations.

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