Special report: Highest-paid execs at telecom trade associations

Top cable lobbyist Michael Powell is the third-highest-paid association chief, trailing CEOs of groups representing the wireless and consumer electronics industries, according to a FierceCable review of tax returns filed by non-profit cable and telecom organizations.

Powell, a former FCC chairman who was named CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association in March 2011, earned a base salary of $1.7 million and total compensation of $2.25 million in 2011, including a $500,000 bonus.

CTIA: The Wireless Association paid CEO Steve Largent, the Seattle Seahawks wide receiver turned Congressman and lobbyist, a base salary of $961,968 and total compensation of $2.7 million in 2011. That made him the industry's highest-paid association executive, topping the $2.44 million pay package of Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro.

National Association of Broadcasters CEO Gordon Smith reported $1.2 million in salary and $1.43 million in total compensation for the year ending March 31, 2012. USTelecom, which represents telcos like Verizon (NYSE: VZ), AT&T (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), paid CEO Walter McCormick a salary of $948,000 and total compensation of $1.58 million in 2010.

Compared to other cable associations, Cable Television Laboratories ranks second in CEO compensation. It paid former chief Paul Liao $1.3 million in total compensation for the year ending April 31, 2012. CableLabs, which named former Hewlett-Packard executive Phil McKinney CEO in May 2012, also paid former CEO Richard Green more than $1 million in salary in 2011, according to its IRS-990 filing for that year. Green announced in 2008 that he would retire after his contract expired in December 2009. "The payment was part of Richard Green's retirement plan agreed to by the CableLabs board," spokesman Wayne Surdam said when asked why Green received a $1 million salary two years after he retired.

Matt Polka, head of the American Cable Association, which represents small and mid-sized cable operators, is one of the lowest-paid telecom association heads. Polka had a base pay of $218,545 and total compensation of $253,258 in 2011. Polka earned less than Kathy Johnson, the former president of the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, who received $331,870 in total compensation in 2011. ACA also paid its CEO less than Women in Cable Telecommunications, whose CEO Maria Brennan had $307,330 in total compensation in 2011.

The heads of all non-profit cable associations made more than Joseph Widoff, who runs the Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association for DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) and Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH). The SBCA CEO had a base salary of $163,681 and total compensation of $182,279 in 2011.

Records show that cable associations pay some the highest salaries to executives with backgrounds in engineering, or as is the case of Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau CEO Sean Cunningham, experience on Madison Avenue. CAB paid Cunningham, a former Universal McCann EVP and managing director, $1.03 million in total compensation in 2011. Char Beales, CEO of cable marketing association CTAM, was the highest-paid woman at a cable association in 2011, earning a base pay of $511,843 and total compensation of $722,731. And the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers paid CEO Mark Dzuban base pay of $256,327 and total compensation of $423,417.

Louisville, Colo.-based CableLabs paid 22 employees more than $200,000 in 2011, and seven earned more than 400,000: Liao, Green, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer David Reed ($676,024); CTO Ralph Brown ($577,171); general counsel Lee Zieroth ($491,463); SVP Don Dulchinos ($470,557); and SVP Ed Miller ($415,11).

NCTA had 16 employees earning more than $400,000 in annual compensation in 2011, including former CEO Kyle McSlarrow ($1.9 million); EVP James Assey ($1.03 million); SVP of Industry Affairs Barbara York ($684,427); SVP of Special Projects Eleanor Winter ($645,849); SVP of Law and Regulatory Policy Rick Chessen ($575,299); SVP of Association Affairs Jadwiga Janucik ($521,424); and general counsel Neal Goldberg ($520,054).

The trade associations make most of their money from conventions and member dues, booked as program service revenue in their 990 filings. Nearly $65 million of the $69.6 million in total revenue that NCTA generated in 2011 came from program services. It topped all other telecom-related associations except for CEA, organizer of the industry's biggest annual convention, which generated $65.7 million from program services and $68.7 million in total revenue. International CES drew 150,000 attendees in January 2013, dwarfing the 12,000 attendees NCTA registered for The Cable Show convention in June. CEA counted 140,000 CES attendees in 2011, and NCTA had 13,000 attendees at that year's convention.

Wireless association CTIA generated $51.4 million in program service revenue and $65.9 million in total revenue in 2011, when 40,000 attended its annual convention. NAB, which drew 94,000 attendees to the 2011 NAB Show, generated $42.3 million in program service revenue and $47.9 million in total revenue.

Cable engineers will converge in Atlanta next month for SCTE's annual Cable-Tec Expo, which was originally scheduled to take place this week in New Orleans. SCTE, which pushed back the convention to avoid competing with the IBC confab in Amsterdam, generated $6.5 million in program service revenue in 2011, the last time the convention was held in Atlanta. SCTE counted 10,000 attendees at its conventions in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and had 9,200 registrants at last year's confab in Orlando, Fla.

Steve Largent, CTIA: The Wireless Association
Base pay: $961,968
Total compensation: $2,698,000

Steve Largent

Gary Shapiro, Consumer Electronics Association
Base pay: $1,880,000
Total compensation: $2,440,000

Gary Shapiro

Michael Powell, National Cable & Telecommunications Association
Base pay: $1,726,000
Total compensation: $2,248,000

Michael Powell

Walter McCormick, USTelecom
Base pay: $947,665
Total compensation: $1,581,000

Walter McCormick

Gordon Smith, National Association of Broadcasters
Base pay: $1,97,000
Total compensation: $1,432,000

Gordon Smith

Paul Liao, CableLabs*
Base pay: $1,300,000
Total compensation: $1,344,000

* Liao resigned from CableLabs in December 2012.

Paul Liao

Sean Cunningham, Cable Television Advertising Bureau
Base pay: $666,352
Total compensation: $1,035,000

Sean Cunningham

Char Beales, CTAM
Base pay: $511,843
Total compensation: $772,731

Char Beales

Mark Dzuban, Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineeers
Base pay: $256,327
Total compensation: $423,417

Mark Dzuban

Kathy Johnson, National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications**
Base pay: $331,870
Total compensation: $331,870

** Johnson resigned from NAMIC in 2011.

Kathy Johnson

Maria Brennan, Women In Cable Telecommunications
Base pay: $290,008
Total compensation: $307,330

Maria Brennan

Matthew Polka, American Cable Association
Base pay: $218,545
Total compensation: $256,244

Matt Polka

Joseph Widoff, Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association
Base pay: $163,681
Total compensation: $182,279

Joseph Widoff


Cable and Telecom Associations in Annual Revenue


Annual Revenue

Consumer Electronics Association


National Cable & Telecommunications Association


CTIA: The Wireless Association


Cable Television Laboratories


National Association of Broadcasters




NTCA: The Rural Broadband Association


Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers




Cable Television Advertising Bureau


Women in Cable Telecommunications




American Cable Association


Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association



Read More:
Book Title