A television drama series
Vince Gilligan, creator
“Breaking Bad,” which first premiered on AMC in January 2008, follows protagonist Walter White, a chemistry teacher who lives in New Mexico with his wife and teenage son who has cerebral palsy. White is diagnosed with Stage III cancer and given a prognosis of two years left to live. With a new sense of fearlessness based on his medical prognosis, and a desire to secure his family's financial security, White chooses to enter the dangerous world of drugs and crime and ascends to power in this world.
Over its five-season run, the series garnered 16 Primetime Emmy® Awards, including the 2014 and 2013 Emmy® for Outstanding Drama Series; two Golden Globe® Awards, two Peabodys and was named to the American Film Institute’s (AFI) list of the “Top 10 Programs of the Year” in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, among other accolades. The series stars four-time Emmy®-winner Bryan Cranston; three-time Emmy®-winner Aaron Paul; two-time Emmy®-winner Anna Gunn; Dean Norris; Betsy Brandt; RJ Mitte, Jonathan Banks and Bob Odenkirk. “Breaking Bad” is executive produced by showrunner Vince Gilligan, Mark Johnson (Gran Via) and Michelle MacLaren and produced by Sony Pictures Television.
Critics hailed the show as expertly written and flawlessly performed, and among the great television dramas. The series will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its premiere in January of 2018.
Bergman is president of Advance/Newhouse companies where she focuses on corporate development and strategic partnerships. Bergman has over 25 years of experience as an operator, investor and advisor to technology companies, where she has focused on mobile, data and video communications, information technology and data services, advanced advertising, and emerging technologies centered on reimagining and improving the customer experience.
Previously, President of Bright House Networks, Bergman was one of the original Bright House Networks founders; who together led the company to become the sixth-largest cable operator in the United States, with 8,500 employees, 2.5 million customers, and over $4B in annual revenue.
Bergman presently sits on the corporate board of publicly held Visteon Corporation and privately held 1010data, Mediamorph and Black & Veatch. As a board member at the University of Rochester, she remains closely connected to her alma mater. In addition, she is a board member of Adaptive Spirit, the Cable Center and One Revolution. She is also a longstanding member of the FCC Technological Advisory Council (TAC), and a part-time Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University.
Bergman is an avid skier and also enjoys running, swimming, cycling, and hiking. Her real moments of brightness derive from her role as a wife to her husband, Neal, and a proud mother of their three wonderful daughters, Rebecca, Dori and Allie.
President and Chief Operating Officer, Charter Communications
John Bickham is known as one of the most influential Executives in the cable industry. Throughout the last 30 years, John’s leadership has greatly benefited the companies he has served as well as those individuals who have had the opportunity to work with him.
John began his career in Cable in 1986 after a 13 year career at Houston Industries. Houston Industries created KBLCOM which partnered with ATC to purchase part of Group W Cable in 1986. John worked in this Partnership until 1989 when KBLCOM purchased Rogers Cable and John went to work at KBLCOM and eventually became its’ President and COO. Houston Industries sold KBLCOM to Time Warner Cable in 1995 and John went to work for TWC eventually moving to the Corporate Office in 1998 as an Executive Vice President.
John left Time Warner Cable in 2004 to join Cablevision, reuniting with former (and current) colleague Tom Rutledge, the company’s Chief Operating Officer at the time. At Cablevision, John quickly made a name for himself, playing a pivotal role in the strategy and development of Cablevision’s triple-play offer. In the years that followed, Bickham led a streak of unprecedented customer growth and penetration increases across the company's video, voice and Internet platforms as the Company’s President of Cable and Communications.
It was no surprise that in 2012, when Tom Rutledge was looking to hire Charter’s new COO, John got the call. Since joining Charter, John has helped the company transition from bankruptcy to the fastest growing cable company in the nation. In July 2016, when transactions with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks closed, John was named President of the newly combined company.
“It is no accident that Charter has become the fastest growing cable company in the nation over the last several years under John’s leadership. His operational expertise will continue to be invaluable to the company as we integrate three companies into one and bring the many benefits of the Charter strategy and the Spectrum brand to millions of customers” said Rutledge.
President & CEO, Liberty Latin America
Balan Nair is president and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Latin America. Liberty Latin America is an integrated telecommunications company, focused on the Caribbean Islands and Latin America.
Balan is an experienced and proven business executive with more than 20 years in the telecommunications industry. He has been a part of the Liberty family of companies since 2007, when he joined Liberty Global as its Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. He most recently served as Executive Vice President and Chief Technology and Innovation Officer. In this role, he was responsible for overseeing Liberty Global’s worldwide network, as well as Technology and Innovation operations, including Product Development, IT, Network Operations, Mobile Operations and Global Supply Chain functions. He was also responsible for Corporate Strategy and Venture investments. Balan was an executive officer of Liberty Global and sat on Liberty Global’s Executive Leadership Team and the Investment Committee.
Prior to joining Liberty Global, Balan served as Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President for AOL LLC, a global web services company, from 2006. Prior to his role at AOL LLC, he spent more than 12 years at Qwest Communications International Inc., most recently as Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer.
Balan has a long history of working in the telco industry, the web world and now the cable and media industry. He sits on the boards of Charter Communications, a leading cable operator in the United States, Liberty Latin America and Adtran Corporation. He graduated from Iowa State University, with a Masters in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He holds a patent in systems development and is a Licensed Professional Engineer in Colorado.
Chairman & CEO, HBO
Richard Plepler is Chairman and CEO of Home Box Office, Inc., responsible for the overall management of the world’s most successful pay TV service, which provides the two television networks – HBO and Cinemax – to over 134 million subscribers in over 60 countries and its programming into over 150 countries worldwide. He was named to this position in January 2013.
Renowned worldwide, the HBO and Cinemax services offer the most popular subscription video-on-demand products HBO On Demand® and Cinemax On Demand®, streaming services HBO GO® and MAX GO®, HD feeds and multiplex channels.
In March 2015, as a special guest at an Apple event, Plepler announced from stage the industry-breaking HBO NOW® – the network’s highly anticipated standalone premium streaming service. HBO NOW® launched the following month and began providing audiences with instant access to HBO’s acclaimed programming in the U.S. Internationally, HBO has streaming services in the Nordic region, several countries in Latin America, Hong Kong and the Philippines, and most recently launched in Spain in Nov. 2016.
Under his leadership, HBO’s original productions continue to raise the bar with some of the most innovative, honored and critically respected programming on television. This was recognized with 22 Primetime Emmys® in 2016, the most of any network for the 15th year in a row. Game of Thrones led all programming last year with 12 Emmy Awards, bringing its lifetime total to 38 Emmys – a new record for the most Emmy Awards ever won by a series. The series programming has also set numerous records for the network -- Westworld, which debuted in early 2016, became the most-watched freshman series in HBO’s history. About to kick off its seventh season, Game of Thrones is a global juggernaut, watched by over 20 million viewers per episode in the U.S. alone and stands as HBO’s most popular series ever. The debut of Ballers in 2015 was the most watched comedy in over six years with more than 9 million viewers.
As co-president from 2007 to 2012, Plepler greenlit some of HBO’s most a successful series including True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, The Newsroom and Game of Thrones, as well as Emmy Award-winners Girls and Veep. Additional award-winning programs include the miniseries Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet, and The Pacific; HBO Films’ Behind the Candelabra, Too Big to Fail and Game Change. Plepler also shepherded Cinemax’s first foray into primetime originals with the popular action series Strike Back.
Plepler serves on the Board of Directors for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Board of Trustees for the Museum of the Moving Image, the Asia Society and the New York Public Library. He also serves on the National Advisory Board of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. Plepler has received numerous accolades over his career: inducted into Broadcasting and Cable magazine’s Hall of Fame; named Media Person of the Year by The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity; the Directorate Emmy Award for his impact on the industry from the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; and the prestigious Drive of Change award at the FT ArcelorMittel Boldness in Business Awards.
Plepler resides in Connecticut with his wife Lisa and daughter Eden.
Vice Chairman, Comcast Corporation
Neil Smit serves as a Vice Chairman of Comcast Corporation. In this role, Neil works with Comcast leaders to develop future technology-oriented business opportunities.
Previously, Neil served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Cable, where he helped transform Comcast Cable into the top cable and broadband company in the nation. Neil and his team created an innovation engine at Comcast Cable with countless new and game-changing products and businesses, including X1, the voice remote, digital home technology and a growing broadband and Wi-Fi platform. Under Neil’s leadership, Comcast Cable grew video and broadband customers, helped reinvent the television experience, and built a business services division.
Neil joined Comcast in March 2010 from Charter Communications where he served as Chief Executive Officer and Director since 2005. Prior to joining Charter, Neil was the President of Time Warner’s America Online Access Business, where he oversaw Internet access services, including America Online (AOL), CompuServe and Netscape ISPs. He also served at AOL as Executive Vice President, Member Services, and Chief Operating Officer of MapQuest. Neil also was a regional president with Nabisco and served in a number of management positions at Pillsbury. For five and a half years, Neil served on active duty with the Navy SEAL Teams and retired from the service as a Lieutenant Commander.
Neil is a member of the Board of Visitors for Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. He previously served as the Chairman of CableLabs, CSPAN, and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. He also served on the Executive Committee of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Board of Trustees.
Neil earned a Bachelor of Science from Duke University and a Master’s degree from Tufts University’s Fletcher School.