Industry vet founded E! Entertainment

Longtime cable TV exec Fred Dressler died Dec. 24 of pancreatic cancer. He was 66.

Dressler had recently retired as executive VP of programming at Time Warner Cable. An influential figure in the cable business, he was a founder of E! Entertainment, Sun Sports Network in Florida, SportsNet New York and the In-Demand Network. He was instrumental in helping to push Time Warner Cable into video-on-demand, personal video recorders and high-definition programming and was a consistent critic of the rising costs of sports rights.

Born and raised in New York, Dressler attended Syracuse U., and then joined the news business working as a writer, editor and on-air journalist. He first joined the cable TV business in 1976 and spent the next 30 years in executive positions with Time Warner Cable and its predecessor company, American Television & Communications Corporation. In his early years in the business, he managed cable systems in Shreveport, Fresno, and Denver before rising through the corporate ranks.

When he retired at the end of 2006, he continued to consult and advise firms including the BBC, Crown Media Holdings, MusicNet, Retirement Living TV and Univision.

Dressler was active at his alma mater, serving as chairman of the advisory board of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. In May 2005, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the school.

Dressler is survived by his wife Patricia Armstrong Dressler, an educational television producer; two sons, his parents, a sister and three grandchildren.

Donations may be made to Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School; the Smilow Cancer Hospital, which will be part of the Yale-New Haven Hospital complex or the American Cancer Society.

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