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Sachs Out at NCTA

Washington — After nearly five years in the hot seat, National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs is quitting at the end of the year. Now, the cable industry has to find a new voice for the industry in the nation’s capital.

In the past, the insular cable industry has handed NCTA’s reins to someone with whom all MSO chieftains could be comfortable — namely, a politically connected middle-aged white male familiar to all industry constituents.

That could mean current NCTA executive vice president David Krone could be moving to a bigger office downt the hall, despite his close bond with disgruntled former cable leader Leo Hindery.

But a break with the past could be afoot. Torie Clarke, the ex-Pentagon spokeswoman who led the NCTA’s public-relations department in the mid-1990s, is on many short lists. In May, Clarke denied interest in the job, saying she was happy in her new role as Comcast Corp. consultant.

The trade group is planning to hire a search firm, with selection of a new NCTA head likely coming after the Nov. 2 election. That leaves the door open for candidates now in the Bush administration. White House chief of staff Andrew Card (whose sister-in-law is a Comcast lobbyist in D.C.) is a big name that has surfaced before as a potential cable industry hire.

Many names from Capitol Hill are in the running, but none look like a top candidate. Among those looking for work are Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and former House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.).

Breaux, however, in March tried to slap cable networks with indecency regulations. Tauzin has had his ups and downs with cable. Remember his satellite-friendly bill that would have required cable to offer a “skinny basic” tier?

Tauzin also threatened to regulate cable’s high-speed data to whip up support for his Baby Bell data deregulation bill, which tore the House apart.