The National Cable Television Association (NCTA) is the major trade organization for the American cable television industry, mediating the professional activities of cable system operators, program services (networks), and equipment manufacturers. From its inception, the NCTA has served the dual function of promoting the growth of the cable industry and of dealing with the regulatory challenges that have kept that growth in check. The organization's publications and regular meetings have kept members apprised of new technologies and programming innovations, and its legal staff has played a key role in the many executive, legislative, and judicial decisions affecting the cable industry over the years.

The NCTA first was organized as the National Community Television Council on 18 September 1951, when a small group of community antenna (CATV) operators met at a hotel in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. They gathered in response to concern over the Internal Revenue Service's attempts to impose an 8% excise tax on their operations. These businessmen quickly became aware of other common interests, leading to a series of organizational meetings during September and October 1951 and January 1952. On 28 January 1952 the organization's name officially was changed to National Community Television Association.

The NCTA's growth kept pace with the rapidly expanding CATV industry. Within its first year, close to 40 CATV systems joined the organization. Membership then grew into hundreds by the end of the 1950s and thousands by the end of the 1960s. In 1968, the term "Community Antenna Television (CATV)" gave way to the term "cable," reflecting the industry's expanded categories of service--including local news, weather information, and channels of pay television. Accordingly, the NCTA changed its official name to "National Cable Television Association."

Today, the NCTA is headquartered in Washington, D.C. It represents cable systems serving over 80% of U.S. cable subscribers, as well as cable program services (networks), hardware suppliers, and other services related to the industry. The organization is divided into departments including: Administration and Finance, Association Affairs, Government Relations, Industry Affairs, Legal, Programming and Marketing, Public Affairs, Research and Policy Analysis, and Science and Technology.


Courtesy of NCTA

The NCTA hosts an annual industry-wide trade show and produces a number of reports and periodicals, including Cable Television Developments, a booklet with up-to date cable statistics, addresses, and listings. Additionally, the National Academy of Cable Programming, established by the NCTA, oversees the annual Cable ACE Awards. These awards, created in 1979, recognize the best original cable programming, at both local and national levels.

- Megan Mullen


Hazlett, Thomas W. "Wired: The Loaded Politics of Cable TV." The New Republic (Washington, D.C.), 29 May 1989.

McAvoy, Kim. "NCTA's Decker Anstrom: Working Around 'Profound Disagreements' with FCC." Broadcasting & Cable (Washington, D.C.), 8 May 1995.

Phillips, Mary Alice Mayer. CATV: A History of Community Antenna Television. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1972.

Victor, Kirk. "Shifting Sands." National Journal (Washington, D.C.) 20 November 1993.


See also Association of Independent Television Stations; Cable Networks; United States: Cable Television