Cable Operators

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9/29/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

Ron McMillan’s tenure in cable predates the 500-channel world. “When I started in the industry, I think we had a 35-channel analog cable system here in Houston,” recalled the 25-year-veteran recently tapped by Time Warner Cable as regional vice president of government affairs in Texas.

“The most significant changes have been in the technology that we’ve been able to deploy,” he said. “I often say to my employees, 'If you don’t like change, you don’t need to be here.’ ”

A Texas native, McMillan spent 14 years with GTE — now part of Verizon Communications Inc. — before joining Time Warner in 1982 as corporate vice president of engineering in Dublin, Ohio. He’s spent the last 15 years as division president of Time Warner Houston, and will still be based there to interact with the state’s largest delegation.

“A primary focus is going to be the state Legislature in Austin, and a lot of that is relationship-building with the legislators, and also building stronger relationships with the leadership,” said McMillan.

Another aspect of his job will be continuing to strengthen the PAC fund and building a better grassroots lobby, which could compete with telcos such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon, which are rolling out competitive services under statewide franchises.

“Phone companies have been extremely good at lobbying the legislature. They’ve been able to tilt the playing field in their direction,” said McMillan, noting their legal ability to “cherry-pick” the areas they’re interested in serving with video. He added that although cable operators don’t have the same resources to put against the political process, he was confident about the industry’s chances. Said McMillan, “We’ll do just fine.”

“Ron has long-term vision, which he displayed when he created the Time Warner Cable political action committee in Texas and in his work with the Texas Cable Association focusing on legislative matters,” said Wayne Knighton, corporate executive vice president of operations for Time Warner Cable in Texas. “We hope to be able to leverage his experience and vision in this new role.”

September