1999 Honorees


Polly Dunn

Former owner, Columbus (MS) TV Cable Corporation, 1999 Cable Hall of Fame


I am singing my song again that the closer the contact that he has with subscribers the better he is going to know how the cable systems can serve, and the better he can present their case on the Hill or at the FCC or in the state or in the city.

Pauline Dunn began as a small system operator in Columbus, MS and stayed that way throughout her career. Almost as soon as she took an active role in running her late husband’s system, she emerged as one of the cable industry’s busiest leaders and most effective spokespeople.

She helped build the Mississippi and Southern Cable associations, shunning most of the leadership positions offered her, and served on the board of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA). She was one of only two women during those years—along with attorney Yolanda G. Barco—elected to the Cable TV Pioneers.

Born in Kentucky and raised in West Virginia, Polly Long was working as a teacher when she met Morris Dunn, an executive from Union Carbide. She married him in 1940, and they moved to Florence, AL. For the next decade, she was active in community affairs and raised two children while Morris managed a knitting mill.

In 1953, while visiting in West Virginia, the Dunns heard about cable television.  Like many cable pioneers, the Dunns were long on vision and short on cash, but Morris’ outgoing personality would make the difference. As Polly often said: "He never met a stranger." Although they had almost no investment capital, the couple won the franchise to build Mississippi’s first cable system in Columbus. Their first service delivered two TV signals from Birmingham, AL.

Community service was an essential part of doing business in Polly Dunn’s mind and she frequently reminded the National Cable Television Association about the need for cable operators to do more of it. She mourned the day that the word “cable” replaced the word “community” in NCTA.

Dunn discovered early in her involvement with the NCTA that most of the association’s members had never seen the inside of the FCC’s offices. “I remember visiting the FCC,” she recalled. “They literally had never met a cable operator.” Dunn soon changed that. “She never brought a crowd and she never overstayed her visits,” recalls Bill Johnson, then chief of the Cable TV Bureau and today deputy chief of the Cable Services Bureau.

Dunn also helped organize the Southern CATV Association, now the Southern Cable Telecommunications Association. She was instrumental in forming that organization’s Tower Club, which presents annual awards to outstanding cable operators. Today, those accolades are known as the Dunn Awards, honoring both Polly and Morris.

By the 1980s, Dunn had become known as the “first lady of cable,” a compliment she would deftly deflect by replying: “you can call me anything, just not the old lady of cable.”

People listened to Dunn because she listened to them. She viewed an opponent not as an enemy but as someone absent of the facts. And she took the responsibility to educate everyone, from the humblest subscriber to the most irascible congressman, about what they should expect from her and what she expected from them.  Her relations with policy makers included some tactics that might not be allowed today.


Amos B. Hostetter

Former Chairman and CEO, Continental Cablevision, 1999 Cable Hall of Fame

Amos B. Hostetter

[cable] is one important tool in the telecommunication process which can help us both find new combinations to answer existing educational and social needs. We should get on with the business of doing just that.

Amos Hostetter was working in investment banking when he met broker and cable industry pioneer Bill Daniels in 1962. Both were assisting with a system acquisition in Keane, NH. Not long after that meeting, Hostetter decided to become an operator himself. In 1963, he convinced Harvard classmate Irv Grousbeck to join him, and the two pored over U.S. broadcast signal maps to find markets that might be receptive to cable systems. Grousbeck visited several small Ohio towns before settling on Tiffin and Fostoria. The partners later moved there, personifying what would become a Continental Cablevision trademark: decentralized management that sought to make decisions as close to the customer as possible.

Continental Cablevision's initial growth came through winning rural and suburban franchises. The company designed and constructed more than 90 percent of the systems it operated and later accelerated its growth through acquisitions, including the systems owned by McClatchy Newspapers, the Providence Journal Co. and American Cablesystems.

While subscriber ranks swelled, Hostetter maintained his individualistic, iconoclastic approach. He kept the company private, buying back a stake previously sold to Dow Jones. Grousbeck left in 1980 to teach at Harvard (and now teaches at Stanford). Continental never abandoned its guiding principles of decentralized management.

After maintaining Continental's fiercely independent status for more than 30 years, Hostetter engineered its 1996 sale to MediaOne for $11.7 billion. It made him one of America's richest men and turned 80 of his long-term employees into millionaires, but after MediaOne went back on its pledge not to move its headquarters from Boston to Denver, Hostetter quit in anger. "I did business until I was 61 years old on a handshake and my word," he told a friend. "It took me until this to be undone by it. I was so angry I was cross-eyed."

Now with his AT&T alliance to purchase MediaOne, Hostetter has returned triumphant. "Nice guys don't always finish last. They can come back and finish first, and maybe that's the lesson of the AT&T deal," says Jim Robbins, president and CEO of Cox Communications, who worked at Continental from 1974 to 1979.

Although the MediaOne fracas sidelined him from cable's day-to-day activities for more than a year, Hostetter has reveled in the opportunity to spend more time with his wife and three children.

In additions, Hostetter contributes generously but anonymously to a number of charitable and educational organizations.

With Hostetter in the industry as non-executive vice chairman of AT&T Broadband & Internet Services, it's plain that many of his peers are quietly gratified, not only at his victory in regaining his company, but at their industry's reunion with one of its most effective leaders.


Gerald Levin

Former Chairman and CEO, Time Warner, Inc., 1999 Cable Hall of Fame


There is in fact this quiet revolution taking place in what I would guess would be in excess of 2 million homes today receiving one form or another of pay cable service

Gerald M. Levin, retired Chairman and CEO of Time Warner Inc., is a graduate of Haverford College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Levin, who pioneered the creation of Home Box Office through satellite distribution, also spearheaded Time Warner's agreement to merge with Turner Broadcasting System and America On Line. He is widely recognized for his leadership in the development of digital, interactive communications. Presently Mr. Levin is an advisor in the creation of a holistic, mental health institute in California.


John Malone

President, CEO and Chairman, Liberty Media, 1999 Cable Hall of Fame


John Malone entered the cable industry in 1972, after working as president of industry equipment supplier Jerrold Electronics. Before that, he’d been an economic planner at AT&T’s Bell Labs and a consultant at McKinsey & Co. Despite these credentials, he wasn’t long out of school. He’d graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Economics in 1963. He received a Master of Science in Industrial Management from Johns Hopkins in 1964 and a PhD. in Operations Research from Johns Hopkins in 1967.

At Jerrold, Malone got to see the cable TV industry up close and decided it was where he wanted to be. When Tele-Communications Inc. founder Bob Magness approached him about joining his Denver-based company, Malone agreed and reorganized TCI’s complicated finances and continued to expand the company.

By the early 1980s, Malone had begun to diversify TCI’s portfolio of assets to include programming. Malone invested in programmer’s companies, beginning a long tradition of similar partnerships that would one day be spun off from TCI as Liberty Media, one of the most influential holding companies active in cable programming, multimedia and technology.

As he was building TCI into the largest cable company on earth, with 15 million subscribers by the mid 1990s, Malone emerged early as a visionary who not only articulated his industry’s potential to financial markets, but led cable to develop its powerful broadband platform.

Decades ago, Malone began contemplating the role cable operators might play in providing local telephone service.  He brought that idea to reality when he forged one of the largest transactions in U.S. corporate history, merging TCI into AT&T in a $48 billion combination. The deal created AT&T Broadband & Internet Services, a company that plans to offer consumers packages of services including video, high speed Internet access and local and long distance telephone. It also included Liberty Media Corp., which received a $5.5 billion infusion of capital and will operate under the chairmanship of Malone, who also serves on AT&T’s board.

An intensely private person, Malone has kept his life outside the office far from the spotlight. He routinely breaks up his business day by going home to lunch with his wife, Leslie. The two hit the road each summer in what one friend calls “a souped up RV” and head for Maine, where Malone indulges his love of sailing. Also part of the family are two grown children, Tracy and Evan.

Malone’s mantra is to “achieve and have fun.” But having already achieved such honors as the NCTA’s Vanguard Award, the Johns Hopkins Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Financial World CEO of the Year Award (1993), Wall Street’s Transcript Gold Award for the cable industry’s best CEO four times.


E. Stratford Smith

Former General Counsel, NCTA, 1999 Cable Hall of Fame


There had been a 'freeze' on the licensing of television stations for several years while the FCC was developing a city-by-city channel allocation plan so that channels could be assigned and licensed to operate with minimum interference to each other. At the time, there probably was no more than a hundred stations in the entire United States, and no UHF. By itself, the Astoria situation was just an interesting and unique solution for a small group of people 150 miles from the nearest station.

E. Stratord "Strat" Smith played a pivotal role in outlining cable's legal framework and, as the National Cable Television Association's first general counsel, helped lead the way in getting them written into law.

In 1949 Smith served as a staff attorney for the FCC's Common Carrier Division. When the agency began getting reports of community antenna systems popping up to deliver clearer TV to rural communities and small towns in Pennsylvania, Oregon, Arkansas and West Virginia, Smith found himself assigned to investigate. He tracked down the operators of some of the systems and decided to go visit one, picking Martin F. Malarkey's Pottsville, Pa. system because it was closest.

Most experts at the time expected community antennas to wither away over time as UHF television, and then in its infancy, took hold. Smith's visit to Pottsville convinced him otherwise, and by 1952, he'd left the FCC to open a private practice in Washington.

In 1952, Smith's first order of business was to frame a legal definition that would allow community antenna systems to operate without being throttled by larger industries.

Smith argued that community antennas relayed "signals" not "programming" to subscribers who couldn't receive them over the air. Once a broadcast signal went out over the airwaves, it was free to anyone, he maintained, so CATV systems didn't need a TV station's permission to carry its signal and weren't subject to copyright fees.

By the end of the 1950s, there were 640 CATV systems with more than 650,000 subscribers. Cable was no longer a fledgling, rural phenomenon but a growing industry that looked toward urban expansion. Large metropolitan broadcasters and movie studios saw that as a direct threat to their revenue streams. They unleashed political and legal action that would bring Smith to the most humiliating low, and exhilarating high, of his career.

As the 1960s unfolded, a more activist FCC began regulating cable more strictly than Pastore's legislation would have dictated.

By then, Smith's master antenna concept, which had protected the industry from regulation for years, came under increased assault, both from within the industry and outside it. He fought to keep the master antenna concept alive CATV systems were ruled not liable to pay copyright fees.

Smith has remained a popular figure in the cable industry even past his retirement in 1972. For years after he left the NCTA, he was in frequent demand at state and regional association meetings. In 1988, he accepted an invitation to help develop the National Cable TV Center and Museum at Penn State University. Later, he was named to Penn State's Cable TV Pioneer Chair in Cable Telecommunications, a position endowed by the Cable Center.

Future historians may well write Smith's legacy this way: First he saved cable and then he helped preserve its history.



Ted Turner

Former Director, Time Warner, Inc., 1999 Cable Hall of Fame


…at the very beginning I figured that cable was going to be good for me as a UHF television operator so I decided to throw my lot with cable early and then I would provide good programming…

Throughout his career, Ted Turner has won recognition for his entrepreneurial acumen; sharp business skills; a vision that transformed television; leadership qualities that won sports championships; and his unprecedented philanthropy.

Turner is a member of the Time Warner board of directors and the founder of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. He began his career as an account executive with Turner Advertising Company and entered the television business in 1970 when he acquired Atlanta independent UHF station channel 17. In 1976, Turner purchased Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves and launched TBS Superstation, originating the "Superstation" concept. The following year, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. acquired the National Basketball Association's Atlanta Hawks, and in 1980 Turner launched CNN, the world's first live, 24-hour global news network.

Over the next two decades, the company built a portfolio of unrivaled cable television news and entertainment brands and businesses, including CNN Headline News, CNN International, TNT, Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies. In the mid-'90s, Castle Rock Entertainment and New Line Cinema became Turner Broadcasting properties. In October 1996, the company merged with Time Warner Inc., and in 2001, Time Warner merged with AOL to create AOL Time Warner. The company later changed its name back to Time Warner Inc.

Turner has also made his mark as one of the most influential philanthropists in the U.S.

He is the Chairman of the Turner Foundation, Inc. founded in 1990, which supports efforts for improving air and water quality, developing a sustainable energy future to protect our climate, safeguarding environmental health, maintaining wildlife habitat protection, and developing practices and policies to curb population growth rates.

The Turner Endangered Species Fund is a core grantee of the Turner Foundation, which works to conserve biodiversity by emphasizing restoration efforts of endangered or imperiled species on the Turner properties.

In September 1997, Turner announced his historic pledge of up to $1 billion to the United Nations Foundation (UNF). The organization supports the goals and objectives of the United Nations to promote a more peaceful, prosperous and just world. UNF has identified four core priorities: women and population; children's health; the environment; and peace and security. Originally to be awarded over 10 years, Mr. Turner's historic gift was intended to inspire an international spirit of participation and philanthropy. At a commemorative luncheon in December 2002 celebrating the 5th year anniversary of Turner's pledge, the UN Foundation Board of Directors agreed to extend the life of the Foundation an additional five years.

In early 2001, Turner launched the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a foundation he co-chairs with former Senator Sam Nunn. NTI is working to close the growing and increasingly dangerous gap between the threat from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the global response.

Turner later created two independent film production companies, Ted Turner Pictures and Ted Turner Documentaries, which produced the major motion picture Gods and Generals and the critically acclaimed PBS documentary Avoiding Armageddon respectively.

Through Turner Enterprises, Turner manages the largest commercial bison herd in North America, which is spread amongst his 14 ranches in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

In January 2002, Turner opened the first Ted's Montana Grill in Columbus, Ohio with his partner, George W. McKerrow Jr., founder of the Longhorn Steakhouse chain. Ted's Montana Grill offers classic American comfort food, including bison or beef burgers, in an authentic Montana bar and grill atmosphere. Ted's Montana Grill operates more than 40 restaurants nationwide.

Turner also enjoys several outdoor sports, especially hunting and fishing.