As you know, Robert Sachs has informed the NCTA Board of Directors that the time is right for him to announce that he doesn’t plan to seek a renewal of his contract as president. He’s right. Could he have gotten his contract renewed? Sure, but Robert has always had a good sense of timing. In this case, both what he is doing and saying come at a key time and it’s right for the industry and his family. Deciding to "…know when to fold ’em" as head of a cable association is something I know something about. When the consolidation surge took place in the cable industry in the late ’90’s, it became obvious that CATA and the NCTA were serving the same constituency and it was time to combine forces. As President of CATA, I asked Robert Sachs, a friend and highly respected colleague from his days at Continental Cable (and on the Hill before that), to help in the negotiations with NCTA. He did, and in the process he was exposed to many of the board members who did not already know him. They were rightly impressed, and decided he was exactly what they needed as a successor to Decker Anstrom, who had rebuilt the industry’s image on Capitol Hill during his tenure, but was ready to move on. Robert was the right guy at the right time. He has continued to inject professionalism into the NCTA, strengthen its staff, and manage what I can tell you is the most difficult part of the job: keeping the various and sometimes incompatible competitive business plans, egos and companies in sufficient harmony to get things done. That’s a trick, believe me. He’s done it well. Maybe not as aggressively as some would like, or as being as partisan, but that goes with the territory of being the person who constantly must forge consensus among company leaders spanning the spectrum on any given issue. That’s what the job is all about. It is also, in this age of broadband, digital rights management, technical compatibility and VOIP, an extraordinarily complex job requiring someone with a lot of smarts to understand the legal and business implications of amendments to legislation, the language of an FCC report, when to go to court and the like. Robert certainly has the smarts. This is not a job for a political backslapper. That will be the case even more as we move into the next phase of a re-write of the telecommunications act. How is "telephone" even defined in this new world? Robert knows that this new game of three-dimensional chess is about to start, and won’t end for years. More years than he was willing to devote to family stressing weekly commutes from Boston to DC. So the right thing for the industry was to let us know in advance so we have a chance at finding new leadership who can see the process through to the end. He also recognizes that there is plenty still left on his, and the industry’s, plate right now – the continuing plug and play negotiations (not sexy or high profile, but very important in the long run), dealing with the opening rounds of the a la carte and indecency debates, and the like. Not the right time to get distracted by endless speculation about "will he or won’t he?" and "who’s next?" By sparing us from all that, Robert has shown, once again, an excellent sense of timing. Thanks.

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