NCTA boss faces stiff opposition

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Despite five years of helping the cable industry dodge regulatory bullets, National Cable Television Association President Robert Sachs could be heading for a fall.

Sachs’s contract isn’t up until December, but challenges to his leadership are expected to come to a head before the association’s September board meeting. The former lawyer and cable executive, who joined the NCTA in 1999, has some support among some cable operators. But several other industry bigwigs believe the organization needs new leadership, and it’s time for the search to begin.

Even one Sachs supporter acknowledges that, “more likely than not, there will be a mutual decision to find someone else.”Rob Stoddard, NCTA senior vice president for communications, says contract negotiations will begin when Congress adjourns in October. “Later in the year is a more logical time to step back,” he says, “and look at strategic issues.”For now, it’s unclear how eager Sachs is to stay. During the week, he lives in a swank Dupont Circle hotel, but he and his wife reside in Boston. Money isn’t a big issue. A former government-relations chief for Continental Cablevision, he scored big when the cable operator was sold to telco US West. Sachs could decide to leave before anybody asks him to go.

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