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Michael S. Willner spent his entire career in the cable television industry. He co-founded Insight Communications in 1985 and served as its CEO, a director and vice chairman of the board until the company was sold to Time Warner Cable in February, 2012.

As a young boy in Miami, Florida, Michael had a fascination with the television business at a very early age. He often rode his bicycle to the local NBC affiliate after school where the staff allowed him to help out in the studio while they produced and aired a live children's puppet show and the local news. Michael began his career in 1974 as the program director and news reporter for a small suburban New York cable system after graduating from the Boston University College of Communications. Soon after, he shifted his focus to general management and eventually became the chief operating officer of Vision Cable Communications, a cable company owned by a division of Newhouse Newspapers.

After starting Insight Communications, Michael quickly developed his hands-on style of management as CEO. He is a firm believer in open, honest communication. He personally ensured that employees and customers were always well-informed and had input and influence over important Company decisions. This commitment led to a secondary career - that of a leading man in a number of Insight television commercials in which he comfortably played himself with a great sense of self-deprecating humor.

Michael also became very active in industry affairs and has been one of cable's most active and effective ambassadors on Capitol Hill, testifying regularly before Congress on industry issues and pending legislation. He has served two consecutive terms as chairman of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), the cable industry's trade lobby and currently served on its executive committee for many years. Michael also served as chairman of the board of the Cable Center from 2007 through 2011. He served on the executive committee of CableLabs; on the board of directors of C-SPAN, and the Walter Kaitz Foundation.

A recipient of the NCTA's 2004 Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership and a 2005 inductee into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, Michael has yet to achieve his greatest goal of winning an Emmy for his leading role in Insight's commercials.

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Rebecca Rachmany

When talking about privacy, there are three main issues:

* Who has access to the information?
* What is the information being used for?
* How can consumers control the use of that data?

Within that framework, for the first question, it's pretty clear that Canoe and the cable operators have no intention to sell the data to any third party or to use that data for anything other than advertising. All of the parties involved are clear on customer rights. Just as your credit card company has information and takes care not to give it to third parties, it is in the commercial as well as regulatory interest of these parties to keep this information confidential.

For the second question, "what is data used for?", the information is being used to deliver targeted advertising. Although there are some people who might feel "creepy" about this, in fact, this is a potentially valuable service. If we can make sure that a household with young children does not get advertising for Viagra, that's an actual service customers want. Rather than regulating against such advertisements, the technology being developed today has the potential to provide a better and more appropriate viewing experience.

The main area where regulation seems to make sense is in the issue of transparency and opting in/out of this kind of service. Customers should be aware that their data is being used to provide this service, and have the ability to opt out if they desire to do so.

Rebecca Rachmany
www.adsvantage.tv

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