Rocco Commisso is one of the most successful Italian immigrant entrepreneurs in our nation’s history. His illustrious career in the cable television industry spans over 37 years. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of Mediacom Communications Corporation, a company he founded in 1995 to acquire and reinvigorate cable systems in the nation’s underserved smaller communities. Together with his dedicated management team, in 2000 he directed a successful initial public offering for Mediacom, paving the way for the company’s dramatic growth into the nation’s 5th largest cable television provider, with operations in 22 states and 4,600 employees. He took the company private in 2011, and now Mediacom, with annual revenues in excess of $1.7 billion, is wholly-owned by Commisso.
Commisso began his business career at Pfizer Inc.’s manufacturing facility in Brooklyn, NY. After graduating from business school in 1975, he spent a decade in the financial community, initially at The Chase Manhattan Bank and then at Royal Bank of Canada, where he led the bank’s U.S. lending activities to companies in the media and communications sectors. From 1986 to 1995, he served as executive vice president, chief financial officer and director of Cablevision Industries Corporation. During his tenure there, privately-held Cablevision Industries grew from the 25th to the 8th largest cable company in the nation, serving 1.3 million customers at the time of its merger with Time Warner.
Commisso serves on the board of directors of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, C-SPAN and Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. He is also a member of the Cable TV Pioneers. Commisso is the recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the National Italian American Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2007, he was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. In 2008, he served as Co-Chair of the Cable Show, the industry’s premier annual event. In 2009, Commisso was presented with the Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership, the cable industry’s highest honor, and Mediacom was named the nation’s top cable operator by CableFAX Magazine. In 2010, he was welcomed into the SUNY New Paltz School of Business Hall of Fame and named Business Person of the Year. In June 2011, Commisso was inducted into the Cable Center Hall of Fame. In 2015, he was bestowed with two prominent honors for his humanitarian efforts, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and induction into the Mount Saint Michael Academy “Legends of the Mount.”
Born in Calabria, Italy, Rocco immigrated to the United States at age 12. He earned both a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia University. While at Columbia, he was co-captain of the varsity soccer team and was elected president of the business school student body. In 2004, on the 250th anniversary of Columbia’s founding, the school’s daily newspaper listed Commisso as one of its 250 greatest alumni. In 2013, Columbia recognized Commisso’s more than 40 years of contributions to the university by naming its soccer venue at the school’s Baker Athletics Complex as the Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium.