Cable Pioneer Robbins Dies - Broadcasting & Cable

Cable Pioneer Robbins Dies

Visionary led Cox and industry since 70s
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Jim Robbins, former president and CEO of Cox Communications, died of cancer Oct. 10 at his home in Westport, Mass.

Two services are planned, one on Oct. 20 in Boston (he lived in Westport, Mass.), and the other on Oct. 27 in Atlanta, where Cox is headquartered.

Robbins led Cox Communications for two decades, building it into the third-largest operator in the country before retiring in 2005. He was a champion of decentralized management and customer service.

Robbins helped to turn Cox from a cable company into a broadband and telecommunications company that pioneered the so-called triple-play option of voice, video and data that has become the model for cable's future.

James O. Robbins was born on the Fourth of July, 1942, in Mount Kisco, N.Y., and graduated with a degree in American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Never one to shy away from a tough job, he served two tours of duty in Vietnam, the second bringing him into the TV business. After his first tour aboard a destroyer, he was assigned as a deputy public-affairs officer stationed on the Mekong River, dealing with the major media and top generals.

After the war, Robbins had the choice of a beat at KOTV-TV Tulsa, Okla., or the Harvard MBA program. He chose Harvard, but still kept his hand in TV news, working at WBZ-TV while in school. He eventually found the balance between his business degree and TV by running a small cable system, Massachusetts Cable Television, in the mid-1970s.

After stints with Continental and Viacom, he joined Cox's Staten Island/Queens operation in 1982, moving one year later to its Atlanta headquarters and starting his swift rise to the top of that company--he was named president in 1985 and CEO when Cox went public in 1995.

Robbins was elected a member of the Cox Enterprises board of directors following his 2005 retirement.

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