2001 Honorees

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Sid Topol

Former President, CEO, Scientific Atlanta, 2001 Cable Hall of Fame

In running a company, you have to continually ask yourself, 'What business am I in? What is the purpose of my company?' Then you have to develop a business strategy that will make you a leader in that business.

topolSidney

For 40 years, Topol made his mark in telecommunications as an engineer, corporate executive and, most recently, as elder statesman. As Chairman of Scientific Atlanta, Topol was instrumental in forging the cable/satellite connection that triggered the growth of cable television in the United States. Topol also played a key role in the development of international telecommunications trade policies.

Topol began his career with Raytheon Co., where he eventually became general manager of Selenia telecommunications division, a joint venture in Italy. He returned to the U.S. in 1965 to head Raytheon's communications division until 1971. At Raytheon, Topol was involved in the development of electronic news gathering equipment, microwave systems, PCM, and the development and installation of 100 ft earth stations, which became the gateway for traffic to satellites and allowed live television coverage in the U.S. from overseas.

Topol served as president of Scientific Atlanta from 1971-83, CEO from 1975-87, and chairman of the board from 1978-90. During his tenure, the company grew in sales from $16 million to more than $600 million. During Topol's tenure the company developed the concept of cable/satellite connection, which, in working with HBO and transportable earth stations developed by TelePrompTer and manufactured by Scientific-Atlanta, established satellite-delivered television for the cable industry.

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John Rigas

Founder and former CEO, Adelphia Communications, 2001 Cable Hall of Fame

We have find ways...of increasing channel capacity so customers get as much choice as possible. Choice is what this business is all about. The more choice a customer has, the better we are doing our job.

rigasJohn

John Rigas is the founder and former chairman, CEO and president of Adelphia Communications Corporation. He was also president of each of the corporation's subsidiaries. Rigas started his first cable system in 1952 in Coudersport, PA., when there were only 60 cable systems in operation across the nation. Four years later, he managed the construction of his second cable system in his hometown of Wellsville, NY. The franchise for this system had been acquired in partnership with his brother, Gus; hence the name "Adelphia," the Greek word for "brothers."

From these beginnings, the company steadily acquired cable systems in communities throughout Western Pennsylvania and New York. In 1972, he incorporated his holdings into Adelphia Communications Corporation.

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Robert J. Miron

Chairman and CEO, Advance/Newhouse Communications, 2001 Cable Hall of Fame

We are pleased to be assuming oversight of the day-to-day management of these fine cable systems. With their strong management teams and dedicated employees, we look forward to providing our customers a great video and data experience and a very high level of customer service and support. At the same time, our customers will benefit from the continued cable partnership with Time Warner Cable through the rollout of multiple ISPs, video-on-demand and other advanced services.

mironBob

Bob Miron is an example of quiet but effective leadership, often working behind the scenes. Beginning his career at Advance/Newhouse right after college, his fresh vision and forward thinking left a legacy on the industry. He solidified the multi-system operator (MSO) group that backed Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks and marshaled in the microwave system that allowed HBO to develop in pre-satellite days. As two-time NCTA chairman, Miron was committed to responsible programming and took the lead on the TV ratings system, funding C-SPAN and providing leadership through Cable in the Classroom and the High-Speed Education Connection.

Miron was a board member as well as chairman of the NCTA during the difficult years preceding the passage of the 1992 Cable Act and was an advocate of moderation in rate hikes and aggressiveness in customer service standards that played a major role in improving the industry's public image. He has also contributed his talents and experiences to many industry organizations, including the Walter Kaitz Foundation and Cable in the Classroom and has been active in a number of charitable organizations. Miron added to his record of industry service by becoming the first industry leader to be elected to two non-consecutive terms as chairman of the Board of Directors of NCTA.

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Kay Koplovitz

Founder and former President, USA Networks, 2001 Cable Hall of Fame

I like to think of myself as a visionary actually. I like to look at what isn't there and imagine what could be there... it's great to be a pioneer but I think that for those of us who are out on the edge, we don't think of ourselves as pioneers. We think of ourselves as futurists, because that's what attracts us.

koplovitzKay

Kay Koplovitz is the founder of USA Networks and the first female network president in television history. Under her direction, USA developed into the largest provider of original programming among basic cable networks. She was the first to negotiate the national cable rights to major league sports and engineered the acquisition of top off-network series and high profile theatrical movie packages on a pre-syndication basis. In 1989, USA Network became the first basic cable network to feature regularly scheduled original movies and has developed the USA Pictures Original movie brand into one of the most successful and recognizable on television.

In 1992, Koplovitz launched the Sci-Fi Channel, which has become one of the industry's fastest-growing networks. In April 1994, she launched USA Networks International, which now operates channels in Latin America, Europe, Brazil and Southern Africa. In 1998 she founded Koplovitz & Company, LLC, a media investment firm specializing in new media investments.

Koplovitz was appointed by President Clinton to chair the National Women's Business Council, an influential advisory board for women-owned businesses. She is also a member of the corporate boards of Oracle, Inc., Nabisco Holdings Corp., Inc., Liz Claiborne and FirstSource.com. Additionally, Koplovitz serves on the Board of Trustees for the Museum of Television and Radio, the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the Central Park Conservancy.

In November of 1999 she joined the Board of Working Woman Network and became Chief Executive Officer as of January 1, 2000. She is leading the transformation of the women's business brands, Working Woman and Working Mother, into a super global brand of goods and services designed to serve the fast growing sector of career committed entrepreneurial corporate and professional women.

Working Woman Network (WWN) possesses the leading brands in the women's business market serving the nearly 60 million working women of America and millions more worldwide. The Company recently announced a new initiative to create the global web based Vortal (vertical portal) to provide tools, applications, knowledge, opportunity and community to this large and fast-growing market.

WWN is a new company formed by the acquisition of the brands and content assets of MacDonald Communications Corporation and its subsidiaries. Included in the properties are Working Woman and Working Mother magazines with a subscription base of 1.6 million and monthly readership of 6 million. Additionally the company owns the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), the highest membership organization with over 150,000 registrants, and the Businesswoman's Research Institute (BRI), which provides data on the emerging women's business market.

Koplovitz holds a Master's degree in communications from Michigan State University. She is also a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Wisconsin. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Koplovitz is married to private investor, William C. Koplovitz, Jr.

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Burt Harris

Former Vice Chairman, Warner Cable , 2001 Cable Hall of Fame

In the early years of cable television, particularly in the big cities, the demands for local origination at the expense of the cable company were enormous. We had to combat that over and over and over again. It was the reason we had to keep our politics clean and our public relations very, very strong.

harrisBurt

After attending the University of Minnesota and serving in the U.S. Navy, Harris started out in the television broadcasting business and became involved in the cable industry in the late1950s, when he began buying systems and winning several franchises. For the system in Bakersfield, CA, he partnered with Time-Life Broadcasting, which was Time's first involvement in the cable business. He also helped build Cypress Communications, one of the first public cable companies, and later sold it to Warner Communications, where it became the foundation for Warner Cable. After the sale, Harris served as vice chairman of Warner Cable.

He later left Warner to start his own cable company and managed the first profitable cable system in Puerto Rico. In the late 1970s, Harris served as chairman of Premiere, a pay-television service started by a group of Hollywood studios. Premiere went out of business before it even launched because the U.S. Department of Justice threatened to sue for antitrust law violations. Harris was involved in the public policy arena, serving in various positions at the (NCTA), including serving as its chairman in 1976-1977.

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Ben Conroy

Founder, Uvalde Television Cable Corporation, 2001 Cable Hall of Fame

...the provision of cable service to a community is a very, very personal thing....I think it's a very personal and important service that we render and we've got to take it very seriously...That's all part of your appearance in the community. I think it's important to tell people how you feel about the service...

conroyBenjamin

A cable industry pioneer, and enthusiastic jazz pianist, Ben Conroy has had a multi-faceted career. After receiving an Engineering degree from the US Naval Academy and serving in the Navy, he entered the cable industry in 1954 when he founded Uvalde Television Cable Corporation in Uvalde, Texas. For much of the next three decades, Conroy held ownership and senior management positions in GenCoe, a holding company operating cable systems in six states and in CPI, a holding company operating cable systems in eleven states (1966-1979). In 1979 he established Conroy Management Services, Inc., which provided cable companies in Texas with management services in areas of administration, operations, engineering, sales promotion and finance.

Early on, Conroy realized the importance of industry associations. He was a founder and the first president of the Texas CATV Association and was involved with NCTA in a number of capacities, including secretary, member of the board of directors and served as their tenth national chairman from 1965-1966. He received several NCTA honors including the Advertising Award, the Larry Boggs Award and the Interindustry Relations Award. Regionally, he received the John E. Mankin Award from the Texas Cable TV Association. He was also the Chairperson of the Cable TV Pioneer Managing Board from 1968 - 1993. Conroy was also instrumental in the beginning and early development of The Cable Center, where he served as the first Chairman of Board of Directors of The Center when it was at Pennsylvania State University.

Benjamin J. Conroy Jr. was born on October 28, 1923 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. From 1941-1944 he attended Brooklyn College, Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1948 he received a B.S. Degree in Engineering from the Naval Academy in Annapolis. He served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1954 and saw active duty during World War II and Korea. After his discharge in October of 1954, he was in the US Naval Reserve until 1969 when he retired as a Lieutenant Commander.

On Feb. 4, 1956 he married Antoinette (Toni) Olwell and they had seven children, Kate, Toni, Pat, Anne Therese, Sloan, Megan, and Ben III.

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Joseph Collins

Director, former Chairman-CEO, Comcast Corporation, 2001 Cable Hall of Fame

We are a major cable operator, but equally as important, we have the content.  We have the broadest and best set of copyrights in the world, and with AOL we have the capability to bring up and operate a nationwide digital platform that we think is unique.

collinsJoseph

As a Harvard Business School graduate student, Joe Collins chose cable television as his thesis topic and joined American Television and Communications Corporation (ATC) as a marketing specialist after graduating in 1972.  

Before being named ATC’s chairman and CEO in June 1988, Collins had been president of Home Box Office, the wholly owned programming subsidiary of Time Warner. When he was appointed to the HBO post in October 1984, Collins had been president of ATC and was responsible for cable systems operations, construction, engineering, programming and marketing. He had been named ATC president in March 1982. Collins joined ATC in June 1972 as marketing director of ATC’s Orlando cable system, gaining the distinction of being the first marketing specialist hired in an ATC system. A year later, he was named general manger of the company’s central Florida operations and in September 1974 transferred to corporate headquarters in Denver as division manager. He was promoted to vice president, eastern operations, in 1976, became executive vice president in 1980, and assumed the title of senior executive vice president in 1981. Collins was named chairman of Time Warner Cable in September 1989.

Not one to seek the limelight, Collins’ voice is often not heard by the general public, but he’s nearly always consulted when the cable industry unites on regulatory, political and legislative strategies. A past chairman of the NCTA board of directors and a current board member, he helped craft the low-key approach NCTA adopted on the Telecom Act. Collins has also taken a leading role in promoting the High-Speed Education Access initiative that has won high praise from educators and local communities for its efforts to wire every school and library with cable’s high-speed Internet service.

Collins is past chairman of the board of directors of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the current co-chairman of their Public Affairs Committee. Collins received a degree in International Relations from Brown University in 1966, and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1972.

Before entering Harvard, he had spent four years as a naval officer. A native of Troy, New York, he was born July 27, 1944. Collins, his wife Maura, and their four children  now live in Darien, Connecticut.