The nation's cable lobby has landed a powerful Washington, D.C., insider. Michael Powell, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2001-05, will join the National Cable & Telecommunications Association as president and CEO. His first day will be April 25.
Powell succeeds Kyle McSlarrow, who recently accepted a new position with Comcast/NBC Universal as president in Washington.
As CEO of NCTA, Powell will be the cable industry's chief advocate and spokesman, representing the business before Congress, the Obama administration and the FCC.
A Republican and strong supporter of the free market, Powell was nominated to the FCC in 1997 by a Democrat, then-President Bill Clinton. In 2001, President George W. Bush chose him to lead the FCC. He was most recently a senior advisor with Providence Equity Partners and honorary co-chair of Broadband for America, a coalition of 300 members warning that government regulation of the Internet could stifle its innovation.
“Over the past decade and during the time that Powell was serving at the FCC, the cable industry led America into the broadband era as our companies invested hundreds of billions of dollars to connect millions of consumers to next-generation networks,” said Patrick Esser, chair of the NCTA board of directors and president of Cox Communications. “Today we face a hypercompetitive and rapidly changing environment that is presenting new challenges and opportunities, both in the marketplace and in the halls of government."
Even before he moves into his new office at the NCTA, the liberal group Free Press has started lobbing grenades at Powell, an old foe.
"If you wonder why common sense, public interest policies never see the light of day in Washington, look no further than the furiously spinning revolving door between industry and the FCC," said Craig Aaron, managing director of Free Press, in the organization’s "congratulatory" statement. "Former Chairman Michael Powell is the natural choice to lead the nation's most powerful cable lobby, having looked out for interests of companies like Comcast and Time Warner during his tenure at the commission and having already served as a figurehead for the industry front group Broadband for America."