Name: Matt Polka
Title: President and CEO, American Cable Association
Age: 48
Years in Industry: 19
Years Left in Industry: Inch by inch, anything is a cinch.

Jeff Abbas
Title: President and CEO, National Cable Television Cooperative
Age: 45
Years in Industry: 14

 

Why Them? 2007 has proven that the smaller cable operators can fight for a lot more than retransmission consent reform. At press time, Polka was leading the charge against the FCC’s decision not to grant a blanket waiver to exempt small cable operators from carrying must-carry broadcasters’ digital and analog signals after the digital transition. Polka’s also been vocal about the expense the digital transition will have on small ops. Over at NCTC, Abbas heads what’s likely a small operator’s best chance at getting a decent programming deal. NCTC was among the first to renew Hallmark Channel. It also went to bat for small ops by filing an FCC complaint against Fox Cable as it tries to negotiate RSN agreements on behalf of members. Said one industry exec: “NCTC makes deals independent cable operators couldn’t make on their own, and ACA breaks deals that are bad for independent cable operators and their customers.” Next year, ACA will do battle during a retrans consent election year and NCTC will navigate life for its members post-digital transition. In other words, things aren’t set to slow down. AM

 

Matt Polka
I knew the cable industry was for me when: “I couldn’t wait to come back into it after leaving it for two years from 1988-90 to become what I thought I would be — “Perry Mason,” a litigator.”
Defining career moment: “The gracious opportunity I received to be asked to lead the ACA in 1997. Ten years later, it’s an opportunity I’ve never regretted nor ever taken for granted.
Person I most admire in the cable industry and why: “There are so many, but Norman Mills of Colstrip Cable TV in Billings, MT, is my choice. cable pioneer, longest serving ACA board member, committed to doing what it takes in Washington for smaller operators, decent man, and salt of the earth. Norman is why I do what I do. We will miss you, Norman.”
Biggest cable surprise of 2007: “So far, the FCC finally taking up ACA’s 2002 Petition on retransmission consent reform and looking to do something about it. With the 2008 retrans cycle looming, this FCC action couldn’t come at a better time.”
Top personal achievement in 2007: “Once again, our biggest ACA Washington Summit ever, our second annual “Independent Show” with our partners at NCTC, and the “never say die” attitude of our board, members, staff and counsel that motivate us daily to succeed and to face the hard realities of the cable and policy business with determination to WIN.”
Person (other than my current boss) who I’d most like to work for: “Can’t think of anyone other than our members. They are the best and the salt of the earth.”
In my free time, I like to: “Spend time doing anything with my family, participate in my kids’ activities, watch movies, read, go to a baseball game.”

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