Charter Communications

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Charter Communications, Inc.
Type Public
Traded as NASDAQCHTR
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 1993
Headquarters Stamford, Connecticut, USA
Key people Eric L. Zinterhofer (Chairman)
Thomas M. Rutledge (President & CEO)
Products Cable television
HDTV
Digital telephone
Broadband
Revenue US$8.4 billion (2013)[1]
Operating income IncreaseUS$961 million (2013)[1]
Net income IncreaseUS$-369 million (2011)
Total assets IncreaseUS$17.30 billion (2013)[1]
Total equity IncreaseUS$409 million (2011)
Employees 21,000
Website charter.com
Charter Communications service truck

Charter Communications is an American company offering cable television, high-speed Internet, and telephone services to more than 27.6 million customers in 29 states.[1] By revenues, it is the fourth-largest cable operator in the United States, behind Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cox Communications,[2] and by residential subscriber lines it is the tenth largest telephone provider.[3] In late 2012, the company announced plans to relocate its headquarters from St. Louis, Missouri, to Stamford, Connecticut.[4]

It is listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market. Its largest shareholder is Liberty Media with a 25.65% stake.[5]

History[edit]

The beginning[edit]

Charter Communications was founded in 1993 by Barry Babcock, Jerald Kent, and Howard Wood, who had been former executives at Cencom Cable Television in St. Louis, Missouri. It was also incorporated in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1993.[6]

In 1995, Charter paid about $300 million for a controlling interest in Crown Media and acquired Cable South.[6]

In 1997, Charter and EarthLink joined forces to deliver high-speed Internet access through cable modems to Charter's customers in California.[6]

In 1998, Paul Allen bought a controlling interest. The company paid $2.8 billion to acquire Dallas-based cable company Marcus Cable. Charter Communications had 1 million customers in 1998.[6]

Listing on the NASDAQ for the first time[edit]

In November 1999, the company went public, trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange.[7] At the time, it had 3.9 million customers.

Charter completed more than ten major acquisitions in 1999:[6]

  • Added 68,000 subscribers in Southern California with the purchase of four cable systems from American Cable Entertainment of Stamford, Connecticut.
  • Acquired 400,000 InterMedia Partners subscribers, primarily in the Southeast. As part of the deal Charter would turn over about 140,000 of its subscribers to TCI in cable system swap.
  • Merged with Marcus Cable
  • Acquired cable systems serving 460,000 subscribers from Rifkin Acquisition Partners and InterLink Communications.
  • Acquired 173,000 subscribers, mostly in central Massachusetts, from New Jersey–based Greater Media Inc.
  • Acquired Renaissance Media Group, a New York partnership serving 130,000 customers near New Orleans, western Mississippi, and Jackson, Tennessee.
  • Acquired New Jersey-based Helicon Cable Communications. The systems served about 171,000 customers in eight states in the Southeast and Northeast.
  • Acquired Avalon Cable TV, adding 260,000 subscribers primarily in Michigan and Massachusetts.
  • Acquired Vista Broadband Communications in Smyrna, Georgia, adding 30,000 more customers.
  • Acquired Falcon Cable TV of Los Angeles. Falcon was the eighth largest cable operator in the United States with about one million subscribers in 27 states in primarily non-urban areas.
  • Acquired Fanch Communications Inc. of Denver. Fanch had 547,000 subscribers in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Wisconsin.

Charter also began swapping customers with other systems to improve the geographic clustering of its systems. In December 1999 it signed a letter of intent with AT&T Corporation to swap 1.3 million cable subscribers in St. Louis as well as in Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri. In 2000, Charter Communications bought select AT&T cable markets, including Reno, Nevada, and the City of St. Louis.[8]

In 2001, MSN and Charter signed an agreement to offer MSN content and services to Charter's broadband customers. In the same year, Charter received awards, including the Outstanding Corporate Growth Award from the Association for Corporate Growth, the R.E. "Ted" Turner Innovator of the Year Award from the Southern Cable Telecommunications Association,[9] and the Fast 50 Award for Growth from the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association.

Lawsuits[edit]

In 2002, the United States Department of Justice investigated the company, leading to the indictment of four former executives in 2005 for improper financial reporting related primarily to the inflation of cable subscriber numbers to improve financial figures.[10]

In 2004, Charter settled a class action lawsuit concerning the questionable financial reporting associated with the US Department of Justice's 2002 investigation and subsequent indictment of four former executives. Current and former shareholders (and their attorneys) were awarded $144 million as well as an agreement from Charter to maintain and implement proper corporate governance measures.[11]

In June 2010, Charter settled a class action lawsuit for $18 million concerning wage and overtime claims for current and former field technicians in California, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Nebraska.[12]

in December 2013, a complaint was filed by Steelhead Licensing LLC for Patent Infringement of US Patent 8082318. US Patent is described as "Controlling service requests transmitted from a client to a server".[13][14]

Further expansion[edit]

In 2008, it acquired the cable television franchise and service for the Cerritos and Ventura, California area from Wave Broadband.

Also in 2008, Charter stock failed to meet NASDAQ standards and was given warning to comply by October 13 or request an extension.[15]

In February 2013, Charter confirmed its purchase of the former Optimum West cable systems owned by Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC). The $1.6 billion deal brought Charter cable systems to 375,000 customers in Colorado’s mountains and Western Slope, as well as in Utah, Wyoming and Montana.[16]

Filing for bankruptcy protection[edit]

In February 2009, Charter Communications announced that it planned to file for Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code on or before April 1, 2009. The action would allow Charter to pay its debt obligations, and cancel its obligations to shareholders.[17] Private equity firm Apollo Management expected to own most of Charter's shares after the bankruptcy.[18] Charter filed for a prearranged bankruptcy on March 28, 2009. The company expected the financial restructuring to reduce its debt by $8 billion, as well as adding $3 billion of new investment, and refinancing other debt.

Emerging from bankruptcy protection[edit]

On November 30, 2009, its bankruptcy plan was approved, which extinguished its stock and cut approximately $8 billion in debt.[19] That day, Charter emerged from bankruptcy despite many of its creditors' objections over its bankruptcy plan.[20]

In 2010, Paul Allen stepped down as chairman and from board of directors' seat, but remains the largest single shareholder. Also in that year, Charter signed multi-year deal with Tivo to deliver content via its platform[21]

Listing on the NASDAQ for the second time[edit]

On September 14, 2010, Charter Class A common stock was re-listed on NASDAQ under the symbol "CHTR".[22]

Thomas M. Rutledge was appointed as a director and President and CEO effective February 13, 2012.[23]

The same year, Charter prices $1.25 billion senior debt, offering to pay down short- and long-term debt[24]

On February 8, 2013, Charter announced an agreement to acquire former Bresnan Communications systems in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, from Cablevision in a transaction worth US$1.63 billion.[25]

Failed acquisition of Time Warner Cable[edit]

On January 13, 2014, Charter Communications said it was interested in buying its larger rival Time Warner Cable. After three previous attempts to buy and merge with the company, Charter CEO Thomas Rutledge wrote in an open letter to Time Warner Cable's CEO Robert Marcus stating, "I believe we have a significant opportunity to put our companies together in a way that will create maximum, long-term value for shareholders and employees of both companies".[26] The $132.50 per share offer, just above TWC's closing price at $132.40 on January 13, was rejected.[27]

On February 13, 2014, Time Warner Cable accepted an offer of $158.82 per share from Comcast, avoiding a hostile takeover situation from Charter.[28][29]

On April 28, 2014, Comcast and Charter announced that, assuming Comcast’s merger with Time Warner is successful, Charter will acquire 1.4 million Comcast/Time Warner Cable customers, bringing Charter’s subscriber total to 5.7 million and making Charter, by its own count, the second largest cable operator in the country.[30] In addition to the 1.4 million divested subscribers, Comcast also agreed to swap 1.6 million subscribers with Charter in an even, tax-efficient exchange whose intent is to improve the geographic spread of both companies. In a third part of the agreement, Comcast will spin off 2.5 million subscribers into a new publicly traded company in which Charter will hold a 33% stake — with an option to eventually own the whole company — and former Time Warner Cable shareholders will hold a 67% stake.[31]

Current operations[edit]

Coverage[edit]

In August 2008, Charter Communications announced an agreement to carry the Big Ten Network, applicable to all customers.[32]

In December 2008, WFAA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Dallas–Fort Worth, reported that beginning January 1, 2009, Charter would no longer carry its signal due to a breakdown in negotiations. Charter quickly replied that a resolution to the issue was not out of the question.[33]

In December 2008, WCNC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina, reported that as of December 31, 2008, Charter would no longer carry its signal due to a breakdown in negotiations.[34] In December 2008, KMOV-TV Channel 4, the CBS affiliate in Saint Louis, Missouri, reported that it would no longer be available to Charter subscribers starting December 31.[35] Prior to that, only the standard definition signal for KMOV was available on Charter cable.

The cable operator would have lost access to all of the stations owned by Belo Corporation. However, an agreement was reached days before the shutdown date.[36]

In May 2009, Comcast was able to meet an agreement with NFL Network, in which the NFL Network agreed to lower their asking price per subscriber. The higher asking price has been a problem with being carried with other cable networks. Roger Goodell is looking at resolving differences with other cable providers, to include Charter Communications, to allow carriage of this channel.[37]

On August 2011, Charter Communications and NFL Network announced that they had reached a new long-term agreement to carry the NFL Network in time for the 2011 season.[38][39]

In November 2013, Charter Communications announced the re-branding of their residential services to Charter Spectrum [40] which encompass an upgrade to an all digital network for their video, voice, and broadband services. The company relied heavily on a predominantly coaxial cable-based network. The newer fiber optic service delivery system provides higher bandwidth speeds than is available with its copper wire infrastructure.[41]

In August of 2014, Charter acquired the SEC network, providing college football in the Southeastern Conference. [42]

Call centers[edit]

On May 2, 2006, Charter announced it would restructure seven of its call centers in the United States in the following locations:

Orders completed online or through retail partners with Charter Communication are directed to a call center located in Tempe, Arizona, operated by Teletech (Direct Alliance). This call center has inbound/outbound sales agents, as well as online chat agents. Outsourced call centers were implemented in 2006 and are located in Canada and the Philippines.

Charter-owned call centers are located in St. Louis, Missouri (telephone service support center); Greenville, South Carolina; Vancouver, Washington; Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; Walker, Michigan; Rochester, Minnesota; Worcester, Massachusetts, and Louisville, Kentucky (the largest call center across the company), with Heathrow, Florida, handling the bulk of video, high-speed data, and telephone billing and customer service contacts.

Former operations[edit]

On March 22, 2006, Charter announced that it would sell cable systems serving approximately 43,000 customers in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah to Orange Broadband Holding Company (since renamed Baja Broadband).[43]

Charter also sold cable systems in West Virginia and Virginia to Cebridge Connections (now known as Suddenlink Communications) and cable systems in Kentucky and Illinois to New Wave Communications.[44]

On October 14, 2008, an article appeared in the Fairmont Sentinel, of Fairmont, Minnesota, reporting that Charter is selling parts of their system to Midcontinent Communications, including Charter's offices in Bemidji and International Falls, Minnesota. Starting February 1, 2009, Midcontinent Communications took over some Charter's cable system in Minnesota including Balaton, Bemidji, Canby, Ely, Fairmont, International Falls, Littlefork, Sherburn, and surrounding communities. Other areas in Minnesota would have sold to Comcast, but the deal fell through.[45]

On October 22, 2010, Charter announced completion of the sale of cable systems serving approximately 65,000 customers in seven states to Cobridge Communications, LLC. The 36 head ends acquired by Cobridge are located in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Texas. As a result of this sale, Charter no longer operates in Arkansas and Ohio.[46]

Awards and recognition[edit]

PCWorld in 2011 awarded Charter with several "fastest ISP"-type awards. Charter has recently upgraded its internet speed tiers and gave most of its customers a free upgrade in speed, not once but twice during the 2011 business year.[47]

In 2009 Charter won a CableFax TopOps award for its Day of Service, a.k.a. DOS, team that answers calls from customers on the day that a technician is scheduled to arrive at their home. DOS team members are highly trained agents that answer questions about services and ensure that the customer has the best possible experience with their service technician.[48]

In December 2007, Charter was recognized by CableWorld Magazine as "2007 Multi-System Operator of the Year". According to the magazine, the company was selected for this award based on "rapidly expanding its telephone footprint to take advantage of the triple-play offering; developing a consistent, data-driven marketing plan; and addressing its nearest-term debt maturities".[49] During the spring of 2008, Charter was honored with third place among companies with over 2,000 employees in the annual "Best Places to Work in St. Louis" competition, sponsored by the St. Louis Business Journal., based on the response of Charter employees in the area to an online survey created and managed by the Journal.[50]

Criticism[edit]

In 2007, PCWorld ranked Charter's cable Internet service as worst among 14 major Internet service providers.[51] In addition, Charter High-Speed is rated 19th out of 22 cable ISPs on dslreports.com,[52] and Consumer Reports indicated in their February 2008 issue that Charter's television/Internet/telephone bundle collectively is the worst of all major national carriers.[53][54] Charter Communications has shown an improvement in its services over the years. In 2011, Charter was ranked one of the top performers in PC Magazine's "Fastest ISPs in the Nation".[55]

It was reported by Tony Bradle on about.com that Charter Communications redirected error pages and Windows Live Search results to a Charter search page without notifying customers. Users may opt out of redirection by clicking a link from the Charter search page; however, the opt-out link saves a cookie on the customer's computer, so deleting cookies will require the user to opt out again.[56]

It was reported that on Monday, January 21, 2008, during a routine sweep of inactive accounts, Charter accidentally deleted the email accounts of approximately 14,000 customers; even worse, the removed data is now irretrievable. The company since decided to give a $150 account credit to each user affected.[57][58] In May 2008, Charter announced that it planned to monitor websites visited by its high-speed Internet customers via a partnership with targeted advertising firm NebuAd.[59][60] After customers voiced their concerns, Charter changed its mind in June.[61]

On June 26, 2012, Charter Communications began requiring customers to lease, at no cost, company-supplied cable modems and disallowing customers from using their own equipment—as part of the phase-in of the new DOCSIS 3.0 standard. All new customers and existing customers that make any changes to their account are given new DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems by Charter. Remaining customers that haven't changed their services or moved are grandfathered in with existing DOCSIS 2.0/3.0 equipment, though may eventually have to use a Charter DOCSIS 3.0 modem.[62] This policy will be changing in the near future as an FCC petition from equipment manufacturer Zoom Telephonics against it was answered by Charter on August 22, 2014, the result being that customers will be allowed to bring their modems again after a transitional period, though still limited at present to the equipment Charter leases out.

Official sponsors[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "2013 Annual Report". Retrieved 2014-07-09. , phx.corporate-ir.net
  2. ^ NCTA Top 25 MSO's, ncta.com
  3. ^ Leichtman Research Group, "Research Notes," First Quarter 2012, pg. 6, Charter (#10) with 1,791,300 residential phone lines.
  4. ^ "Gov. Malloy: Charter Communications Moving Corporate Headquarters To Stamford « CBS New York". Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Major Shareholders CHTR, investors.morningstar.com
  6. ^ a b c d e "Company History for Charter Communications, Inc.". Retrieved 2014-07-09. , fundinguniverse.com
  7. ^ Cauley, Leslie. "Charter Communications Posts A Wider-Than-Expected Loss". online.wsj.com. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  8. ^ AT&T/Charter Swap, news.investors.com
  9. ^ Charter 2001 Awards, sec.gov
  10. ^ 2005 Indictments, gpo.gov
  11. ^ 2004 Law Suit, bizjournals.com
  12. ^ 2010 Law Suit, cedmagazine.com
  13. ^ Google - US Patent 8082318
  14. ^ Priorsmart.com - Steelhead Licensing LLC v. Charter Communications Inc.
  15. ^ American City Business Journals, Inc., bizjournals.com
  16. ^ Charter Buys Optimum West, online.wsj.com
  17. ^ Bloomberg.com
  18. ^ Apollo to own most of Charter after bankruptcy, reuters.com
  19. ^ "Charter Communications Completes Financial Restructuring and Emerges From Chapter 11" (Press release). Charter Communications. 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2009-12-01. , corporate-ir.net
  20. ^ Bode, Karl (2009-11-30). "Charter Exits Chapter 11". BroadbandReports.com. Retrieved 2009-12-01. , dslreports.com
  21. ^ [1] Charter/Tivo deal
  22. ^ CHTR Returns to Nasdaq, streetinsider.com
  23. ^ T.Rutledge: Charter President and CEO, phx.corporate-ir.net
  24. ^ Hibbard, Matthew (9 August 2012). "Charter prices $1.25 billion senior debt offering". Telecom Industry Updates. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 
  25. ^ "Charter to Buy Optimum West for $1.63 Billion". bloomberg.com. Bloomberg L.P. 2013-02-08. Retrieved 2013-02-08. 
  26. ^ Kastrenakes, Jacob (13 January 2014). "Charter makes $37.4 billion offer to purchase Time Warner Cable". The Verge. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  27. ^ Popper, Ben (22 January 2014). "Cable TV's Darth Vader is back to reclaim his empire". The Verge. 
  28. ^ "Comcast to Purchase Time Warner Cable". philly.com. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2014. 
  29. ^ "Time Warner Cable to Merge with Comcast Corporation to Create a World-Class Technology and Media Company". Time Warner Cable. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  30. ^ Charter acquiring Comcast customers, usatoday.com
  31. ^ "Comcast Strikes Deal With Charter To Divest Nearly 4 Million Subscribers". forbes.com. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  32. ^ [2]
  33. ^ Star Telegram, star-telegram.com
  34. ^ WCNC-TV, wcnc.com
  35. ^ Louis Today, stltoday.com
  36. ^ Multichannel.com
  37. ^ Espn.go.com
  38. ^ [3]
  39. ^ [4]
  40. ^ MultiChannel News
  41. ^ What is Charter Spectrum
  42. ^ http://qa.secsports.com/article/11316088/charter-adding-sec-network
  43. ^ "Charter Communications Announces Agreement to Sell Systems Serving Approximately 43,700 Customers; Subsidiaries of Orange Broadband Holding Company, LLC to Purchase Charter Assets" (Press release). Charter Communications. 2006-03-22. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  44. ^ Saint Louis - Business and Technology News
  45. ^ Midcontinent Communications, midcocomm.com
  46. ^ http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=112298&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1486159&highlight=
  47. ^ Charter sweeps PC Magazine's Fastest ISP awards, pcmag.com
  48. ^ cablefax.com
  49. ^ 2007 MSO of the Year: Charter—Back From the Brink: Cable Fax Magazine, cable360.net
  50. ^ 19 St. Louis companies named "Best Places to Work" — St. Louis Business Journal, bizjournals.com
  51. ^ [5], pcworld.com
  52. ^ DSLreports.com
  53. ^ Former Charter Channel Line up on the Midco Website, midcocomm.com
  54. ^ Channel Line up on the Midco cable system in east central North Dakota, midcocomm.com
  55. ^ PC Magazine - The Fastest ISPs in the Nation, isp-planet.com
  56. ^ Netsecurity.about.com
  57. ^ MSN.com
  58. ^ Bizjournals.com
  59. ^ New York Times, nytimes.com
  60. ^ The Inquirer, theinquirer.net
  61. ^ The Associated Press (June 25, 2008). "Charter Won’t Track Customers' Web Use". via The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-06-29. , nytimes.com
  62. ^ Charter Support Page

External links[edit]