THIS YEAR, FOR A CHANGE, WE DECIDED TO PRODUCE AN UNRANKED LIST OF PEOPLE WHO WERE ONCE PART OF OUR 100 BUT WHOSE EMPIRES HAVE SPREAD BEYOND CABLE. BELOW WE LIST A FEW OF THEM, WITH SOME OF THEIR CABLE ASSETS IN PARENTHESES, FOLLOWED BY IRREVERENT BUT RELEVANT COMMENTARY.
PAUL ALLEN (CHARTER): We know he’s not been the happiest of campers with Charter; shares were down 70% YTD on Nov. 14. Still, when your net worth is $16bln, how unhappy can you be? Far more important, if Allen exits Charter before The Cable Show ’09, will he and his (non-cable) cronies be permitted to compete in the Battle of the Bands?
GREGORY Q. BROWN AND JOHN CHAMBERS (MOTOROLA/CISCO): Our staff argued about including Brown, 48, pres/CEO of Motorola, and Chambers, 59, Cisco’s CEO and chairman, here. They may lack the cachet of the others on this list. Yet their empires are considerable. They’re here, mostly, for the reach of their companies’ products.
CHARLES AND JAMES DOLAN (CABLEVISION/RAINBOW): Owners of the best-run MSO in the biz, the Dolans expanded their empire again in ’08, acquiring the hometown paper, Newsday, whose stories haven’t always been kind to the press-averse duo. Ain’t free enterprise great?
JOHN HENDRICKS (DISCOVERY): Talking with the down-to-Earth Hendricks can seem like chatting with a neighbor. Of course, if your neighbor founded the largest nonfiction media company on the planet, well, it’s exactly like that.
BOB IGER (ABC FAMILY/DISNEY CHANNEL/ESPN): Yes, he’s ultimately in charge of the Disney empire, which includes ESPN, but what inquiring minds really want to know is this: Who’s his tailor? His suits are exquisite.
JAMES COX KENNEDY (COX COMMUNICATIONS): We heard a story (unconfirmed, mind you) that James Cox Kennedy not only drives a hybrid but that he applied for the Cox employee incentive program to purchase it. You have to like that.
GREG MAFFEI (QVC, STARZ): Anyone wanting to become rich and powerful should take a lesson from the 47-year-old Harvard MBA, who’s Liberty’s president/CEO: Do your homework, work exceedingly hard, keep a low profile…and get a job with Bill Gates or Dr. John Malone.
DR. JOHN MALONE (DISCOVERY NETWORKS, QVC, ENCORE, STARZ): Say what you will about Dr. Malone’s shrewd business acumen. Yes, selling TCI to AT&T for $54bln was a great move. But ever since the 67-year-old über tycoon got a piece of the Atlanta Braves, the perennial playoff team hasn’t made it to October baseball. See, even being worth $2bln doesn’t help if your club lacks reliable pitching.
LES MOONVES (SHOWTIME AND CBS COLLEGE SPORTS): With Moonves personally involved in CBS College Sports, the property will continue to rise.
RUPERT MURDOCH (FOX CABLE): The 77-year-old Murdoch is the very definition of what it means to be a member of our Above It All list. He was so far above it all that he paid $5.6bln cash for The Journal late last year, and started another cable business network. With a net worth of $7bln, he can afford some risk in his portfolio.
SUMNER REDSTONE (SHOWTIME, MTV NETS): His net worth is $5.1 bln…and falling, and the 85-year-old Redstone has lost more than $3bln this year. Maybe splitting CBS and Viacom wasn’t such a good idea. Win some, lose some.
BRIAN ROBERTS (COMCAST): Alas, ’twas a sad day when we had to admit Roberts, 49, the King of Cable, had become too mighty for our 100. But life goes on.
JEFF ZUCKER (NBC CABLE): We don’t know whether Zucker, 43, convinced the IOC to hold swimming and gymnastics in the morning in Beijing (so Americans could see them live at night), but if he did, bravo (no pun intended). The ratings and revenue were huge. Now, can he combine The Weather Channel with the Winter Olympics in ’10?