To shore up its ties to Capitol Hill Republicans and the White House, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) hired senior Energy Department official Kyle McSlarrow as the group's next president. He joins NCTA March 1.
McSlarrow takes the reins of cable's largest trade organization as the industry gears up for legislative battles over rewriting the country's telecommunications laws. The fight is expected to include rules for cable's delivery of Internet telephone service and the rollout of TV service by phone companies. McSlarrow has no experience in the cable business or any other telecommunications sector.
Glenn Britt, Time Warner chairman and head of NCTA's board, admits that McSlarrow was picked for his GOP ties but dismisses concern that his lack of industry knowledge will hurt him. “He didn't know anything about energy when he went to work for the Department of Energy. If he can learn about nuclear power, he can learn about our issues,” Britt says.
McSlarrow, who resigned from his former post two weeks ago, also served as chief of staff to the late Sen. Paul Coverdell and as deputy chief of staff and chief counsel to former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole and Trent Lott.
At the Energy Department, McSlarrow reorganized what some members of Congress derided as the worst-managed federal agency. After joining in 2001, his top priority was revamping security at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory, which had been plagued by a spy scandal and the loss of top-secret data.
One major cable operator says McSlarrow faces a tough internal battle: getting NCTA's divided membership to concur on telecommunications legislation. “We're certainly not in agreement between the operator side and programming side. NCTA can't take a unified position on all these things.”