Talk about timing. Hours after Cox Enterprises announced that Jill Campbell will be moving into the evp role of the company, the current Cox Communications evp, COO took the stage at The Cable Center Hall of Fame celebration, held at the Grand Hyatt in DC, where she was one of six inductees.
Campbell said she’s been incredibly lucky in her career, but one thing she excels at is people. She recalled her father inviting recovering addicts and alcoholics to her house during holidays when she was a child. The unconventional choice shaped how she connects with others. “That’s how I live my life and that’s how I lead,” she said of her ability to recognize that “everyone has a story.”
The celebration held other notable moments including the first induction of a television series. The cast of “The Sopranos” accepted the award for the HBO series and its creator David Chase given the colossal impact the show has had on television and the drama series that followed in its wake. According to The Cable Center, “Many in the industry believe the post-Sopranos wave of anti-hero driven series such as ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Mad Men,’ ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘The Americans’ and more, would not have been possible before Chase changed the rules.”
Other honorees included NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, whose job has changed much since he joined Comcast in 1998 as president of Comcast Cable. Burke, who now oversees the film, television and theme park companies that comprise NBCU, kept his promise of a brief acceptance speech powerfully stating, “I will always think of myself as a cable guy.”
Fellow inductee Michael Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, told The Cable Center crowd that he makes sure his international team understands its role in what they’ve done for the industry. “I remind them that we may have been pioneers outside of the U.S., but we stand on the shoulders of giants right here in America.”
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame was Scripps Networks Interactive pres/CEO Ken Lowe, who pitched the idea of HGTV in 1994. He was honored for many reasons including sparking the lifestyle category in television programming, which would eventually extend beyond HGTV to include Food Network, Travel Channel and DIY Network. These networks launched the careers of many unknowns. “I was not looking for stars. I wanted people who knew their craft—where it’s their passion and they’d be doing it even if they weren’t on TV. This authenticity is one of the reasons we’ve succeeded,” Lowe said.
Reflecting on his induction Wednesday night, Discovery pres/CEO David Zaslav recalled that he started his cable career after working as a corporate attorney where his client list included Discovery Communications. He became drawn to the business, so much so that he sent a blind cover letter to NBC after hearing the network wanted to get into cable with CNBC. At the awards celebration, Zaslav stated, “Despite all the disruption in this business, things really haven’t changed that much.”
CommScope founder Frank Drendel was also honored at the event as the 2017 recipient of the Bresnan Ethics in Business Award. Drendel, who’s known for the phrase, “Nothing sells like the truth,” was chosen for exemplifying the standards maintained by Bill Bresnan, including upholding ethical leadership qualities in everyday work situations and doing what’s right in the face of adversity.
After the dinner many helped close the place down by hanging at the Cablefax After-Party sponsored by Pop. Read more about the newest Hall of Fame class in our special report.