7. Charter Communications Inc.
Revenues 2020: $ 48.100 billion (€ 42.110 billion)
Charter Communications (CC) is the fourth largest cable network operator in the USA, providing for seven million customers in 40 states. In 2004, 3,5 Billion $ were invested into broadband in order to allow for a more extensive diversification into services that cater for specific genres and target various groups by means of increasing the transmission capacity. At the moment, the company and its cable-network offer digital and interactive television, video-on-demand, pay-per-view services as well as high-speed Internet. On top of its modern broadband technology, Charter communications can offer its customers many a supererogation in the form of Internet-telephone, B2B-video and data transfer. The company maintains cooperations with the ABC Cable Network Group, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and The Movie Channel as well as local channels and other providers of sports and entertainment. In 2003, Charter Communications released its own broadband cable box through the company’s own Internet TV software company Digeo. Ever since 2005, Charter Communications, GoITV has been part of the cable network. GoITV is the first and only TV station in the USA that transmits complete football games from many Latin American and European countries. Furthermore, the group distributes cable modems, set-top terminals, interactive electronic TV guides and digital music.
400 Atlantic Street
Stamford, Connecticut 06901
Telephone: 001 203 905 7801
Branches of trade: Cable services, Video-on-Demand, Telecommunications
Legal form: Public Company
Financial year: 01.01.-31.12.
Founding year: 1993
Revenues (US$ m)
|Net profit (US$ m)||1,632||882||1,456|
|Share price (US$, year end)||258.08||338.03||287.92|
|Year/Segment||Video||Internet||Voice||Advertising Sales||Commercial & Others|
Executives and Directors
- Thomas M. Rutledge, President and Chief Executive Officer
- John Bickham, President and Chief Operating Officer
- Christopher L. Winfrey, Chief Financial Officer
- David G. Ellen, Senior Executive Vice President
- Tom Adams, Executive Vice President, Field Operations
- Mike Bair, Executive Vice President, Spectrum Networks
- James Blackley, Executive Vice President, Engineering and Information Technology
- Catherine Bohigian, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
- Richard J. DiGeronimo, Chief Product and Technology Officer
- Richard Dykhouse, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
- Charles Fisher, Executive Vice President, Corporate Finance and Development
- Cliff Hagan, Executive Vice President, Customer Operations
- Jonathan Hargis, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
- Kevin D. Howard, Executive Vice President, Chief Accouting Officer and Controller
- David Kline, Executive Vice President, President Spectrum Reach
- Paul Marchand, Executive Vice President, Human Resources
- Philip G. Meeks, Executive Vice President, President Spectrum Enterprise
- Stephanie Mitchko, Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer
- Tom Montemagno, Executive Vice President, Programming Acquisition
- James Nuzzo, Executive Vice President, Financial and Business Planning
- Scott Weber, Executive Vice President, Network Operations
Board of Directors
- Thomas Rutledge, Charter Communications
- W. Lance Conn, Vulcan Capital
- Kim C. Goodman, American Express Company
- Craig A. Jacobson, Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush and Kaller L.L.P
- Gregory B. Maffei, Liberty Media Corporation
- John C. Malone, Liberty Media Corporation
- John D. Markley, Jr., Bear Creek Capital Management
- David C. Merritt, BC Partners Inc.
- James E. Meyer, Sirius XM Hodings
- Steve A. Miron, Advance Communication, Bright House Networks
- Balan Nair, Liberty Global
- Michael A. Newhouse, Advance/Newhouse Companies
- Mauricio Ramos, Millicom International Cellular
- Eric L. Zinterhofer, Searchlight Capital Partners
Charter Communications (CC) started out as a local cable network operator in St. Louis (Missouri) in 1993, took over Gaylord Entertainment Co. from Nashville (Tennessee) and quickly rose to become the tenth largest cable network operator in the USA. In 1998, CC was acquired by the investment firm Vulcan Inc. for $4.5 billion, after buying the Marcus Cable Company of Dallas (Texas) for $2.77 billion. Behind Vulcan was the Microsoft co-founder and, according to the US magazine Forbes, at times third richest man in the world, Paul G. Allen. Allen retired from the operative business at Microsoft due to illness in 1983 and began to invest in various new media companies after the partial sale of his Microsoft shares. After his attempt to take over the then "narrowband" industry leader AOL failed in 1993, he turned his attention to the cable network in the mid-1990s to become the market leader in the broadband segment. By acquiring the two cable network companies, Allen tried to realize his vision of the "wired world", in which everyone can access countless interactive information and entertainment possibilities via PC and a broadband cable.
The rise of Charter was rapid. In 1999 CC went public, and in 2001 it was included in the Nasdaq 100 index and was considered the technology industry's rising star of the year. Between 1999 and 2000, the company expanded by acquiring several local cable network operators. However, the collapse of the New Economy brought problems for Charter, whose debt mountain at times rose to almost 20 billion dollars. In 2001, the company had won the "Outstanding Corporate Growth Award" of the Association of Corporate Growth, but Charter had to pay a total of 144 million dollars to shareholders who had filed suit due to irregularities in the annual reports for 1999 and 2000. Between 2002 and 2003, the company posted substantial losses due to high write-downs. In order to absorb these losses, Chairman Paul Allen offered a $300 million loan from his personal assets and replaced his senior management team. Carl A. Vogel, the President and Chief Executive from 2001-2004, also had to leave, during whose term Charter lost an estimated 800,000 customers.
Only the support of some major banks saved the group from final bankruptcy. But a loan of eight billion dollars in 2004 and restructuring measures were not enough to bring Charter back into the black in the next few years either. In 2006, the share lost 90 percent of its value within 11 months. The company then intensified its consolidation efforts. The company management expected positive accents from a new marketing concept and a preference for "high return investments", i.e. expenditures with a high return on costs within a relatively short period of time. However, the company only recorded growth in high-speed Internet connections, with their high access speeds and data transfer rates, and Internet telephony. The enormous investments in improving the cable network, however, only yielded profits in the long term.
In addition, there was a conflict with the major US Hollywood studios in 2004/2005, which did not want to let the network operators take the reins on the issue of marketing film rights in cable: The first waves of lawsuits by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) against users of film-sharing networks started in 2004. However, the courts ruled that mere suspicion alone does not mean that an Internet provider is compelled to hand over users' data. As a result, Charter was not held responsible for any copyright infringements of its users. However, the RIAA soon decided to file charges against unknown persons. Since 2005, a provider has had to disclose its data in individual cases at the request of the court.
On 27 March 2009, Charter declared its bankruptcy under Chapter 11 (under creditor protection) in New York for restructuring. 21.7 billion dollars of debt could no longer be refinanced from existing operations. As a result, a restructuring plan was filed, which provided for the conversion of eight billion dollars of debt into shares. This put an end to the bankruptcy proceedings and restored Charter's ability to act.
In the following years, Charter was able to broaden its position by taking over cable networks in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, which were bought from its competitor Cablevision. Probably the most important stabilizing factor was the entry of cable baron John Malone, who took over 27.3 percent of the shares and later transferred them to his holding company Liberty Broadband Corporation.
Malone was also the driving force behind one of the largest takeovers in the history of the media group at the time. Regulatory and antitrust authorities allowed Malone to take over its second largest competitor, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, for a total of $78.7 billion, and at a stroke multiply its customer base to around 23.5 million. The Obama administration, which had previously banned Comcast from buying Time Warner Cable, thus ensured further consolidation of the cable market – in the hope that a stronger CC in the duel with Comcast would lead to more competition. The merger was completed on May 18, 2016.
Charter CEO Thomas Rutledge has always been convinced that his company can only survive in the long term if it grows through acquisitions. When investor and cable veteran John Malone joined Charter, the two immediately formed an alliance with the goal of making Charter the number two in the cable market. A quiz fan with a penchant for history, Rutledge learned the cable business from the ground up and, unlike most of his Wall Street friends, began his career as a humble employee in Pittsburgh, meeting with customers and laying cable. He later worked in the management of companies including Cablevision (which he left in a dispute with the Dolan family) and Time Warner Cable. At Time Warner Cable, he was surprisingly passed over for CEO in 2001. 15 years later he simply bought the company himself.
Charter is now the second largest cable company in the United States and one of the leading broadband providers for approximately 28.1 million homes and small/medium business customers in 41 U.S. states. All this under the "Spectrum" brand, which offers cable television (over 200 HD channels, plus premium channels such as HBO and Showtime), Internet, fixed and mobile telephony. However, Charter generates only a fraction of its revenues by integrating local advertising into the programming of cable channels such as MTV, CNN or ESPN.
In 2018 there was the conflict with the "New York Public Service Commission", which imposed a fine of 2 million dollars on Charter. The cable operator had failed to meet its obligation to expand broadband coverage to 145,000 underserved homes in New York (at least 36,250 new units per year over a 4-year period). A commitment that had to be made in connection with the acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The Commission threatened the possibility of further regulatory action, including the revocation of its cable concessions.
Then on July 27, the NYPSC withdrew its approval for the purchase of TWC by CC. The New York State franchise was thus revoked (due to repeated failure to meet the expansion deadlines promised in the TWC purchase). Within 60 days, Charter was to submit a plan to sell and migrate its cable operations in New York State (serving approximately 2 million customers) to new owners.
By April 2019, there was a solution and new terms: An expansion for 145,000 residential units by September 30, 2021, and the payment of $12 million into a fund for broadband expansion projects.