Cable’s top lobbyist, McSlarrow, joins Comcast to lead Washington office

Kyle McSlarrow, the cable industry’s top Washington lobbyist, will join Comcast as president of the firm’s Washington policy and government affairs office.

McSlarrow is a former Virginia politician and government official who earned a reputation as a fierce opponent of net neutrality regulations and of a la carte pricing for cable television services.

His appointment comes amid major shifts in the Washington media and communications lobbying industry. The Motion Picture Association of America announced last week that former senator Christopher Dodd would take its top position after a year-long search.

The cable industry itself has undergone massive change as Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox see their businesses transition from solely TV to broadband Internet services. Netflix, for example, has emerged as a major challenge to the industry.

McSlarrow “brings a terrific mix of business skills and broad management capabilities to our cable operations,” Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts said in a statement. “Hi interests in technology, new product development, and customer service will be a real asset.”

McSlarrow will leave his post as president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which he has held since March 2005, in early in April.Late last year, the cable industry trade group announced that McSlarrow was stepping down. McSlarrow had said he wanted to return to business operations in the private sector. The NCTA has not named a successor.

Comcast said in a release that McSlarrow will preside over business operations and public policy for Comcast and the recently acquired NBC Universal. McSlarrow abstained from lobbying on the merger as head of the NCTA.

His business tasks include improving customer service in the Washington region. On policy, he will report to Comcast executive vice president David Cohen and work closely with Comcast Cable president Neil Smit and NBC Universal chief executive Steve Burke.

McSlarrow was part of a small group of industry insiders recently convened by the Federal Communications Commission to negotiate regulations on Internet access. He ultimately agreed, on behalf of the cable industry, to the so-called net neutrality rules that prohibit the blocking and slowing of content. McSlarrow has said he supported the rules only to avoid more stringent measures from an FCC proposal to reassert its authority to regulate broadband services.

During former FCC chairman Kevin Martin’s tenure, McSlarrow fought against the agency’s push to offer a la carte channels for cable customers.

Before joining the NCTA, McSlarrow served as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy. He ran the unsuccessful presidential campaign of former vice president Dan Quayle and twice lost two campaign bids to represent the 8th congressional district of Virginia.

Cecilia Kang is a staff writer covering the business of media and entertainment.

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