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Cable Loses Programming Icon Fred Dressler
The man affectionately referred to as cable’s programming Godfather, Fred Dressler, passed away Monday evening following a bout with pancreatic cancer. He was 66. Dressler retired just one year ago from Time Warner Cable as EVP, Programming. At that time he was feted by the industry with several tributes in the cable press and a lavish party in New York City attended by a bevy of cable programming executives. [Read CableWorld’s December 2006 tribute to Fred Dressler.

Dressler found out late in October that he had pancreatic cancer, a disease whose victims rarely live more than a few months after being diagnosed. Cable learned about Dressler’s illness at the same time it discovered that former Cox chief Jim Robbins was suffering from cancer. Robbins passed away on October 11.

Dressler was portrayed in a December 2006 issue of CableWorld as a tough negotiator but a fair one. "I always could get a square deal from Fred," Doug Holloway, president, cable investments, NBC Universal, told CableWorld. But, he added with a laugh, "It was often painful." Former Fox Cable Networks president, affiliate sales and marketing, Lindsay Gardner, recalled for CableWorld that Dressler “once threw a calculator at me." The negotiating standoff involved National Geographic Channel. But Gardner conceded that the projectile was just part of Dressler’s "unique" negotiating style. Summing up the industry’s evaluation of Dressler, Rob Marcus, SVP, Time Warner Cable, told CableWorld, "No matter what side of the table you were on, Fred always commanded respect for his honesty, great sense of humor and love of the game." Today, Time Warner Cable chief Glenn Britt said, “Fred was revered for his intellect, his wit, his perspective, his vision, and his humanity. We will miss him very much.” Funeral services will be private. Donations on his behalf should be directed to: Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School, the Smilow Cancer Hospital, which will be part of the Yale-New Haven Hospital complex, or the American Cancer Society.

The Wall St Journal speculates on what Charter Communications chief Paul Allen will do should his Vulcan Spectrum LLC succeed in acquiring spectrum in the FCC auction on January 24. Other bidders include Google Inc., Verizon Wireless, Qualcomm and AT&T. The auction is seen as the final opportunity for new players to enter the wireless game.
[The Wall St Journal]

Alan Wagner, the first president of Disney Channel, passed away last week, aged 76. A successful VP at CBS in the 1970s, with shows like M*A*S*H and All in the Family to his credit, Mr Wagner was hired by Disney in 1982  to oversee the start of what then was a novel idea: a cable channel dedicated to children. and family programming. He had a $100 million budget and launched Disney Channel as a 16-hour/day service the next year. Mr Wagner was also a lifelong opera buff who hosted the radio show Living Opera for more than a decade.
[The NY Times

 Briefly Noted
A hot topic among investors is what Jeff Bewkes’ first move will be when he takes over Time Warner from Dick Parsons on January 2. Top of his list, according to a NY Times’ blog, is deciding whether or not to totally divorce Time Warner Cable from Time Warner’s content businesses.
[The NY Times]

A blog reports that pirated copies of several major motion pictures, including Oscar nominees, were available in cyberspace before legit copies of the films were in theaters. The films include The Great Debaters, Atonement and The Bucket List. Also hit by pirates, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, whose exec prod is Charles Segars, a co-founder of cable’s Ovation TV.
[The LA Times]

Media Daily News notes Verizon Wireless’ push to become a player in the sports world. [Media Daily News]

Today in CableFAX Daily: Predictions for 2008.

[Friday’s 360 AM

 

 

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