Interview with Donald E. Anderson, December 6, 2016

Donald E. Anderson began his career at HBO in 1974 as manager of affiliate operations, and retired eighteen years later as the company’s senior vice president. In this interview Anderson discusses the early development of HBO and explores his unique perspective as the first black executive in the cable industry. He mentions the influence that his prior government relations work had on his subsequent efforts at HBO–especially pertaining to relationships with cable operators and lawmakers. Anderson talks about the gradual evolution of all aspects of the cable world, from people to technology, and how HBO’s move to satellite not only secured its dominance, but also led to him opening regional offices nationwide. He comments on the creation of Cinemax as a direct response to competition from Showtime. Anderson shares some of his impressions of, and experiences with, the big names of HBO. He considers how his background simultaneously drew him toward, and made him leery of, the entertainment industry. Relatedly, Anderson treats the homogeneous corporate environment of HBO at some length, detailing his push to encourage diversification, both internally with respect to its hiring practices and culture, and externally insofar he encouraged the cultivation of heretofore unconsidered minority markets.

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