News Articles

2003 Vanguard Awards

6/15/2003 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Distinguished Leadership

Recognizes one man and one woman, who consistently have demonstrated the highest level of cable industry leadership.

NICKOLAS DAVATZES

PRESIDENT/CEO, A&E TELEVISION NETWORKS

Davatzes was honored not only for building some of the most prominent and highly valued cable networks but for his strong support of the industry's public-policy and public-affairs objectives. This support includes being an early leader in creating Cable in the Classroom, demonstrating early and strong support for CablePAC, and serving as chairman of NCTA's Satellite Network Committee.

A former Marine, Davatzes graduated from St. Johns University in Queens, N.Y. (he eventually received a Ph.D. from New York University), before beginning his business career at Xerox in 1965. When he left in 1977, he was vice president of sales and marketing for the Learning System Division, which he had moved into the black. From 1978 to 1980, Davatzes was president of Intext Communications, a publishing and training organization.

Then, Warner-Amex Cable chief Gus Hauser recruited him to organize the fast-growing cable company as its senior vice president of administration and human resources. The next step was moving into system management, overseeing systems in Dallas, Chicago and Houston and the company's before-its-time Qube interactive cable operations.

In 1983, Herb Granath recruited Davatzes to head A&E, a joint venture just formed by the Hearst Corp., ABC and NBC, merging two failed networks: RCA's The Entertainment Network and Hearst/ABC's ARTS Network. Under Davatzes' leadership, the new entity turned a profit in three years, and A&E has matured from an idea on paper to one of the most recognized media brands in the world.

The popularity of one segment of A&E's programming led to a second network—The History Channel—in 1995. And the amazing success of one program, Biography, led to a third, The Biography Channel. AETN's umbrella of channels now also includes History International. Then there's A&E Home Video, which distributes videotapes and DVDs of its more popular programs.

All the networks have Web sites, of course, and Davatzes expanded the company's Internet reach in 2001 with the purchase of Genealogy.com LLC, an Internet destination for research and software that dovetails into AETN's focus on history and biography.

Davatzes' efforts have paid off in more than just viewers and earnings: A&E has won more CableACE Awards than any other basic-cable network.

Among Davatzes' other honors are the Cable Television Public Affairs Association's President's Award and the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government.

DEBRA L. LEE

PRESIDENT/COO, BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION

Lee was recognized for her longstanding commitment to both BET and the African-American community. Through her leadership, BET has used its platform to create awareness and address important issues, including creation of the BET Walk of Fame, which raises money for the United Negro College Fund, and the Rap-It-Up Campaign, focusing on HIV/AIDS awareness in the African-American community.

Lee is president and chief operating officer of BET, the leading media and entertainment company targeted to African-Americans. She is the highest-ranking African-American woman at BET's parent company, Viacom.

Lee earned her jurist doctorate at Harvard Law School, while simultaneously earning a master's degree in public policy from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1980. She graduated from Brown University in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in political science with an emphasis in Asian politics.

Lee joined BET as vice president and general counsel in 1986, after spending five years as an attorney with Washington-based Steptoe & Johnson. From August 1980 through September 1981, she was a law clerk to the late Honorable Barrington Parker of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Prior to her appointment as COO in March 1996, Lee was the network's executive vice president of strategic business development. During her tenure at BET, she has served in pivotal positions, including executive vice president and general counsel of BET's legal affairs department, corporate secretary, and president and publisher of BET's publishing division.

Throughout her career, Lee has exhibited an ability to multitask. For example, she was facing the birth of her first child while overseeing construction of BET's corporate headquarters in Washington while simultaneously running BET's publishing division and acting as BET general counsel.

Since its founding in 1980, BET has successfully pioneered an entire genre of music, entertainment, news and public affairs programming for African-Americans. And Lee has led its evolution into original movies, documentaries, concert specials, news, late-night talk shows and public-policy coverage.

Lee received the 2001 Woman of the Year Award from Women in Cable and Telecommunications and the Wonder Woman Award from Cablevision
magazine and was ranked one of the "100 Most Powerful Women in Washington" by Washingtonian
magazine. She was also given the year 2000 Tower of Power Trumpet Award from Turner Broadcasting System, has received the Silver Star Award from American Women in Radio and Television and was named one of the cable television industry's "Hundred Heavy Hitters" by Cable Fax
magazine.

Young Leadership

Recognize a young individual who already has made a mark on the industry and its constituents.

LYNNE ELANDER

VICE PRESIDENT, VIDEO PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, COX COMMUNICATIONS

Elander was honored as a spokesperson and advocate for cable's new services as well as for her accomplishments in corporate marketing and the development of video products. In particular, she has played a significant role in shaping the industry's thinking on pay-per-view, video-on-demand and emerging products, including high-definition television, personal video recorders and home networking.

Elander holds a BS in marketing from Georgetown University and an MBA from the University of Virginia. She joined Cox in Hampton Roads, Va., in 1988 as assistant marketing manager, and then was responsible for product management of various products on the corporate level. Next, she was the company's director of product development, responsible for the launch and rollout of Cox Digital Cable.

In 2000, she was promoted to vice president of new product management, responsible for product management and marketing activities for new and existing video products. In her current position, she has overall responsibility for the strategy and development for new video products, including VOD, PVR, HDTV and ITV. Elander also oversees Cox's competitive-intelligence and pricing/bundling efforts. (Cox has more than 6.3 million customers and approximately 21,000 employees. It has won the Cablevision/Multichannel News Operator of the Year Award three times in 10 years and was CED magazine's Operator of the Year in 2002.)

Elander was a 2000 recipient of CTAM's Tami award for contributions to CTAM.

Programmers

Recognizes the innovation, leadership and individual achievement of NCTA's programmer members.

CHRIS ALBRECHT

CHAIRMAN/CEO, HOME BOX OFFICE

Albrecht has been instrumental in the production of a long list of HBO's successful series and special events, including The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Oz
and Band of Brothers. He is the visionary who has attracted and secured the unique talents that are key elements in HBO's success and have contributed so significantly to the value of cable.

With a BA in dramatic literature from New York's Hofstra University and a background that includes being co-owner of The Improvisation nightclub in New York, it's no wonder that he has an eye—and ear—for talent and material that people will like.

As head of HBO, Albrecht is responsible for the overall management of the world's largest premium-television company, which operates multiple premium networks in the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America, as well as HBO's many other lines of business. He was named to his current position in July 2002.

He had been president of HBO Original Programming since 1995. He stills keeps his hand in on the programming side, continuing to direct all day-to-day operations of both West and East Coast original programming for HBO, Cinemax and HBO Independent Productions. With the addition of HBO Sports and HBO Film Programming, Albrecht oversees all programming for HBO and Cinemax services.

Serving from 1990 to '95 as president of HBO Independent Productions, a business unit dedicated to developing and producing comedy series for distribution on HBO and the broadcast networks, he was responsible for Martin
and Everybody Loves Raymond.

Albrecht joined HBO in June 1985 as senior vice president, original programming, West Coast. He oversaw all HBO West Coast original programming functions for HBO and Cinemax.

Before joining HBO, Albrecht worked for five years for International Creative Management (ICM), where he was instrumental in signing such talent as Jim Carrey, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg.

Associates & Affiliates

Recognizes the contributions of equipment manufacturers and service suppliers to cable-industry growth and progress.

JOHN D. CLARK JR.

PRESIDENT/CEO, SOCIETY OF CABLE TELECOMMUNICATIONS ENGINEERS

As president of SCTE, Clark has been a leader in implementing professional-development programs and member services to the benefit of the broadband industry's engineering community. SCTE is a nonprofit professional association dedicated to advancing the careers of cable telecommunications professionals and serving the industry through excellence in professional development, information and standards. Today, more than 15,000 engineers, technical professionals, installers and managers are members.

In particular, Clark has been instrumental in SCTE's major standards expansion and the launching of its Operación Español work-diversity program.

The SCTE Standards Program provides standards to help the cable telecommunications industry prosper. The standards cover a wide range of industry needs from F connectors to protocols for high-speed data access over cable. SCTE is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and recognized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and works with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

Clark graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maryland with a BS in business administration and also holds an MBA from the same school. He became involved with the cable industry when he joined the Qube-Columbus two-way interactive system in 1980 and most recently was executive vice president for Los Angeles-based Tele-TV Media. Prior to that, he was managing director for Telecom New Zealand's First Media cable subsidiary, where he headed the international telephone company's entry into the broadband business. Clark also served as senior vice president of marketing and programming for both Crown Media and Cencom Cable Associates.

He was inducted into the Cable Pioneers in 2001 and was one of Cable's Hundred Heavy Hitters in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. He is a CTAM TAMI and Case Study Award winner. Among other honors: a St. Louis local Emmy Award for executive producer, best sports program, and a Victor Award for outstanding marketing achievement from the Dallas sales and marketing executives.

Science & Technology

Honors individuals who have played a major role in product improvement and design, and development of engineering techniques that benefit the industry.

MARK COBLITZ

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, STRATEGIC PLANNING, COMCAST CORP.

Coblitz was honored for his skills as a technologist, strategist and leader. It's his strategic vision and consensus-building prowess that have helped create his success story, including the recent completion of the cable/consumer-electronics "plug-and-play" agreement.

As Comcast's senior vice president, strategic planning, his primary responsibility is the development of new-business opportunities, particularly from emerging technologies.

The former U.S. Air Force captain holds a BS with honors in management science from Case Institute of Technology and is a distinguished graduate of Carnegie Mellon's Graduate School of Industrial Administration.

Prior to joining Comcast in 1989, Coblitz was a consultant with Strategic Planning Associates in Washington, where he consulted on strategic issues in industries as varied as jet engines to financial services and textiles. One of his clients was Comcast. "I recognized something very rare at Comcast, and that was the way people worked with each other," he told CED
magazine in 2000. "The industry looked like it was about to explode." When the MSO offered him a permanent job, he came on board.

Fiber optics were among the first technologies he tackled, an effort that eventually resulted in the construction of today's broadband infrastructure. Then there was his realization that both Comcast's cable and its cellular-telephone businesses used RF technology. He wanted them to work together. Technical trials with Motorola resulted in PCS trials over cable plant. Other technological issues he has worked on over the years include DOCSIS, PacketCable, IP telephony and VOD.

Coblitz is a member of the CableLabs Technical Advisory Committee and chairs CableLabs' Packet Cable Committee and its Open Cable Business Committee. He was chosen CED
magazine's Man of the Year for 1999. As a representative of Comcast, he has served on the boards of Internet Capital Group, Primestar Partners, Teleport Communications Group, Eastern TeleLogic Corp. and Faroudja Research. He currently serves as a board member for Intertainer and V-Span.

Cable Operations Management

Recognizes the efforts of cable's system managers, who work under intensely competitive conditions in today's telecommunications environment and are key to the cable industry's success at the local level.

GARY T. McCOLLUM

VICE PRESIDENT/GENERAL MANAGER, COX COMMUNICATIONS

McCollum was recognized for his oversight of the rebuild of Cox's Northern Virginia system. He is credited with the dramatic turnaround in both customer service and satisfaction of this high-profile system.

He was named to his current position in December 1999 and is responsible for all operations of the MSO's two Northern Virginia cable systems, serving approximately 260,000 customers in Fairfax County; the cities of Fairfax, Falls Church and Fredericksburg; the towns of Herndon, Vienna and Clifton; and parts of Spotsylvania and Stafford counties.

McCollum previously was vice president/general manager of Cox's Roanoke, Va., system. In that role, he spearheaded an effort to bring the information superhighway to all segments of the community. He joined Cox Communications in 1989 as a manager trainee in Hartford, Conn., and was later promoted to a variety of management roles, including director of network development and vice president of customer care.

Prior to joining Cox, he served eight years on active duty as a military intelligence officer for the U.S. Army and is currently a major in the Army Reserves. During his active-duty military career, he served with the Army's elite Ranger unit.

He graduated James Madison University with a BA in Russian studies and political science and earned an MBA from the University of Connecticut, where he concentrated on telecommunications.

McCollum is very active in community and industry-related projects. He was vice president of the New England Chapter of the NAMIC and currently serves on the boards of the Virginia Cable and Telecommunications Association, Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, Virginians for the Arts, Northern Virginia Urban League, the Virginia Opera, George Mason University Minority Advisory Board and the George Mason University Foundation, among others.

But his interests extend beyond the cable industry and the Northern Virginia community. Church had always been a part of McCollum's life while growing up in public housing in Richmond, Va. In 1998, he became a minister and, on weekends, travels the roughly 120 miles back to Richmond to minister at From the Heart Church.

Government & Community Relations

Recognizes those who have had a major impact on promoting a positive public image and advocating public-policy positions for the cable industry at the national, state and/or local levels.

RICHARD H. BEAHRS

PRESIDENT/COO, COURT TV

Beahrs was honored for his significant contribution to the cable industry through his leadership and vision in the development of innovative public-affairs programs and efforts to showcase the industry's accomplishments.

Named president of Court TV in 1999, he had joined the network in 1992 as chief operating officer and guided it to its current distribution of more than 75 million homes. He was instrumental in creating Choices and Consequences, an award-winning public-affairs initiative that uses live television events, televised local town meetings, and classroom videos to enhance the decision-making skills of teens and young adults.

Beahrs earned a BA in history from the University of California at Berkeley and an MBA from Adelphi University.

An AOL/Time-Warner veteran, he has spent more than 30 years as an executive in the print and cable industries. Before joining Court TV, Beahrs was president of the Comedy Channel, which became Comedy Central. Prior to that, he served at HBO as senior vice president of sales and marketing at Cinemax, where he was the chief strategist for the launch of the network.

He also was senior vice president of new business development, was responsible for introducing the Spanish-language enhancement of HBO. He has held a variety of positions with Life
and Sports Illustrated
magazines, including director of Sports Illustrated Enterprises, which was responsible for the magazine's ancillary products.

Beahrs is on the boards of Cable in the Classroom, the School of Management at St. Petersburg University (Russia), the Arbor Day Foundation and the Near East Foundation. In addition, he is a trustee of the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, and was recently appointed to the United Nations Hunger Task Force, which is charged with developing a plan for halving the instances of extreme malnutrition throughout the world over the next decade.

Long interested in environmental and natural-resources science, Beahrs and his wife, Carolyn, a Berkeley alumna, established the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program with a gift to UC Berkeley. Its core is an intensive interdisciplinary summer certificate course in Sustainable Environmental Management for scholars and emerging leaders from around the world.

Marketing

Recognizes an individual who has been instrumental in the development of marketing approaches that significantly enhance cable's public image and increase customer levels.

KEVIN J. LEDDY

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, STRATEGY & DEVELOPMENT, TIME WARNER CABLE

Leddy was recognized for his leadership in bridging technology and marketing in several of the industry's major interoperability projects, including last year's "plug-and-play" agreement between cable operators and consumer-electronics manufacturers for digital TV sets. The agreement by 14 consumer-electronics companies and seven major cable operators representing more than 75% of all cable subscribers will allow consumers, sometime in 2004, to buy DTV sets that will not require a cable set-top box to receive HDTV content via cable.

The agreement includes provisions for recording devices and copy protection. Cable operators will use IEEE 1394, or FireWire, connections on HD set-top boxes to allow consumers to record content and also to protect current digital-set owners from obsolescence. And the consumer-electronics manufacturers will support FCC labeling regulations that satisfy the needs of content owners.

Leddy heads a strategy and development group within Time Warner Cable's Advanced Technology Department in Stamford, Conn. His group is responsible for development of technology platforms, technology policies and standards, and product-development strategies.

He received a BA in government from Colby College and an MBA from The Wharton School. He began his career with NCTA in 1977 and joined Warner Amex Cable in 1980. During his 22 years with Warner and Time Warner, he has held various marketing positions around the country and served as senior vice president of marketing from 1990 to '99. From 1999 to 2002, he was head of the company's New Product Development department, which produced digital applications including on-screen navigators, digital video recorders, enhanced TV applications and a home networking business.

He is chairman of CTAM's board of directors and has served on the boards of Primestar and E! Entertainment Television. He participates on several industry committees at NCTA, CableLabs and CTAM.

November

Next TV

Affinia Manhattan, New York, NY

The Content Show

Affinia Manhattan, New York, NY