How NCTA, COMPTEL, ACA and other trade groups' funding stacks up

by Nicole Blanchard

Trade group revenuesTax filings from the industry's 11 largest trade associations show the groups' yearly revenues, trade show income and more. By looking at public tax returns from 2013--the latest year that such figures were available--we were able to break down the top trade groups' funds, including executive salaries and year-over-year comparisons.

Perhaps the most prominent wireless trade group, CTIA, which often outstrips its fellow associations by several million dollars, fell in total revenue by almost $20 million in 2013 to $60.6 million. The vast majority of the loss can be attributed to a drop in investment income from 2012, which the company said is due to "the $17.4 million realized gain on the purchase of RCC (building) and $2.3 million unrealized gain on marketable securities."

CTIA's decline in income left room for NCTA to become 2013's biggest earner. The group, which totaled nearly $71 million in revenue, brought in more than 86 percent of those funds through membership dues, while its annual Internet and Television Expo (INTX)--formerly The Cable Show--contributed only $7.6 million, just under 11 percent of total revenue.

A slew of smaller trade associations, including PCIA and CCA are holding steady in funds, bringing in roughly the same revenue from previous years. Behind major earners CTIA and NCTA, the Wi-Fi Alliance, USTelecom and the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) earned in the tens of millions, with the SCTE seeing a $3 million jump in total income.

Executive compensation largely fell in line with company revenue, with NCTA's Michael Powell raking in the largest total compensation at $3.1 million. Former CTIA president and CEO Steve Largent and USTelecom exec Walter McCormick trailed Powell with total earnings of around $1.6 million each. Wi-Fi Alliance's Edgar Figueroa, however, pulled in the second-lowest earnings ($285,409) despite working for the third most profitable organization. Similarly bizarre, Char Beales, former president and CEO of Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM), brought in over $1 million from the organization, a whopping 23 percent of the group's $5.2 million total revenue, although this is likely due to her 2013 retirement. Comparatively, CTIA's Largent pulled in only 2.6 percent of his nonprofit's total income, with the average executive compensation around 8 percent.

Interestingly, there is no "normal" for how the trade groups make up their revenue. For example, the two largest organizations drew 19 (CTIA) to 86 percent (NCTA) of funds from membership revenue. Smaller organizations had just as broad a range, from less than 10 (Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing) to almost 95 percent (USTelecom) funding from membership.

Regardless of size, most of the trade groups are currently throwing their efforts into the FCC's net neutrality stipulations and collaboration on LTE-U and Wi-Fi. CTIA is currently embattled in lawsuits against the FCC and the city of Berkeley, Calif., over net neutrality rules and cell phone radiation warnings, respectively. USTelecom has also filed suit against the FCC, while PCIA has teamed up with litigious CTIA to fight a Maryland lawsuit concerning the speed of wireless infrastructure deployment. Smaller organizations are focusing on changing FCC designations to better fit small carriers, with the latter in talks to bid jointly with Sprint in the 600 MHz incentive auction. CCA--along with CTIA--has also been a vocal proponent of Sen. Marco Rubio's proposed Wireless Innovation Act of 2015.

Unfortunately, the most recent available tax returns for telecom trade associations are for the 2013 fiscal year. For more industry financial comparisons, look for articles on various fields' top 10 highest-paid executives in FierceWireless, FierceCable and FierceTelecom.

NCTA (National Cable & Telecommunications Association)

Total 2013 revenue: $70,945,743
  -- Membership revenue: $61,473,904
  -- Event revenue: $7,611,177

2012 revenue: $69,427,688
Director pay: Michael Powell - $3,142,961
Total employees: 117

CTIA - The Wireless Association

Total 2013 revenue: $60,601,303
  -- Membership revenue: $11,633,899
  -- Event revenue: $12,315,224

2012 revenue: $81,993,506
Director pay: Steve Largent - $1,601,570
Total employees: 105

Wi-Fi Alliance

Total 2013 revenue: $15,433,061
  -- Membership revenue: $7,427,500
  -- Event revenue: $288,755

2012 revenue: $15,089,645
Director pay: Edgar Figueroa - $285,409
Total employees: 42

USTelecom

Total 2013 revenue: $14,209,934
  -- Membership revenue: $13,435,031
  -- Event revenue: $52,822

2012 revenue: $14,553,913
Director pay: Walter McCormick - $1,614,692
Total employees: 32

SCTE (Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers)

Total 2013 revenue: $13,350,879
  -- Membership revenue: $3,242,961
  -- Event revenue: $7,567,357

2012 revenue: $10,683,900
Director pay: Mark Dzuban - $826,037
Total employees: 40

TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association)

Total 2013 revenue: $9,454,161
  -- Membership revenue: $3,448,386
  -- Event revenue: $1,094,918

2012 revenue: $10,122,857
Director pay: Grant Seiffert - $361,820
Total employees: 44

CTAM (Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing)

Total 2013 revenue: $5,266,661
  -- Membership revenue: $499,226
  -- Event revenue: $50,725

2012 revenue: $6,410,749
Director pay: Char Beales - $1,219,969
Total employees: 35

CCA (Competitive Carriers Association)

Total 2013 revenue: $5,014,190
  -- Membership revenue: $2,203,115
  -- Event revenue: $2,702,841

2012 revenue: $4,600,027
Director pay: Steven K. Berry - $611,575
Total employees: 15

PCIA - The Wireless Infrastructure Association

Total 2013 revenue: $4,823,853
  -- Membership revenue: $1,564,595
  -- Event revenue: $1,686,122

2012 revenue: $4,297,024
Director pay: Jonathan Adelstein - $294,929
Total employees: 27

COMPTEL - The Competitive Communications Association

Total 2013 revenue: $4,402,711
  -- Membership revenue: $1,487,983
  -- Event revenue: $2,227,364

2012 revenue: $4,571,384
Director pay: Jerry James (now Charles Pickering) - $545,518
Total employees: 16

ACA (American Cable Association)

Total 2013 revenue: $4,113,155
  -- Membership revenue: $3,824,001
  -- Event revenue: Not available

2012 revenue: $3,593,359
Director pay: Matthew Polka - $255,940
Total employees: 9

(Source: ProPublica.org)

How NCTA, COMPTEL, ACA and other trade groups' funding stacks up
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