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Charter Communications Nominates 13 for Time Warner Cable Board in Ongoing Takeover Bid

hostile takeover

Hostile Takeover

Charter Communications does not like the resistance it is getting from Time Warner Cable executives over its bid to acquire the company so Charter has nominated 13 new members for TWC’s board of directors in an effort to force executives to reconsider.

Charter calls the baker’s dozen a slate of “independent candidates” that will be willing to evaluate Charter’s offer of $132.50 a share. Time Warner Cable’s current management says it won’t negotiate with Charter unless they offer $160 a share.

“It is clear from our meetings with Time Warner Cable shareholders that there is an overwhelming desire to combine these two companies to increase Time Warner Cable’s competitiveness, grow market share and create shareholder value.  Now is the time for the current Board and management of Time Warner Cable to respond to their shareholders and work with us to complete a merger to the benefit of shareholders while minimizing their execution and market risks,” said Tom Rutledge, Charter’s CEO.  “We are nominating a full slate of highly qualified, independent directors to elect to the Time Warner Cable Board and believe that stockholders will use this opportunity to express their views.  Our purpose in this proxy contest is to enable shareholders of TWC to raise their voice, and to provide a very capable board who will hear them.”

Charter has gotten a lucky break because all 13 current TWC board members are up for re-election at the same time this spring. Many companies avoid that practice to prevent a hostile bidder from taking control of an entire company’s board.

Charter’s roster of nominees includes a number of current or former CEOs, three former Wall Street lawyers and an ex-chief technology officer that used to work for Time Warner Cable. Many were associated with hedge funds, cable operators that sold out to larger players, or companies that either went bust during the Great Recession and were bailed out by U.S. taxpayers.

Charter Communications’ ‘Rescue Team’ for Time Warner Cable

  1. James Chiddix: A cable industry veteran who formally retired in 2007, Chiddix worked for Time Warner Cable from the mid-80s until 2001. He now serves as a director at Arris Group, a manufacturer of cable equipment. Chiddix served on the board of Virgin Media, acquired last year by Liberty Global — which also has an ownership interest in Charter Communications;
  2. Bruno Claude: Known primarily as a “turnaround” expert, Claude has a record of restructuring troubled telecom operators by cutting jobs and negotiating with the large investment banks that generously loaned the money that fueled overvalued takeovers to write down that debt when banks realize they have no hope of being repaid in full;
  3. Isaac Corre: Currently a lecturer at Harvard Law School, where he teaches a seminar on executive compensation and corporate governance, Corre spent a decade at Eton Park Capital Management, L.P., a global hedge fund. Corre specialized in “event-oriented” investments and “distressed corporate debt”;
  4. super friendsMarwan Fawaz: Spent a year in a leadership role at Motorola Mobility/Motorola Home Division. He has the distinction of serving as an executive at two bankrupt cable operators: Charter Communications and Adelphia. Charter eventually emerged from bankruptcy, Adelphia did not and two members of its founding family are spending 15 years in the Allenwood federal prison, convicted of wire and securities fraud. Charter’s press release says Fawaz would be a valued addition to the board because he has “a deep understanding of the cable television industry”;
  5. Lisa Gersh: Lasted less than a year as CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Under her leadership, the company capped a year of turmoil that included layoffs, titles closing and the failure of Martha’s underwhelming Hallmark Channel show, according to Adweek. She was also a co-founder of Oxygen Media, which was sold to NBC;
  6. Dexter G. Goei: An investment banker at Morgan Stanley back when it was hip deep in sub-prime mortgages and a taxpayer bailout, Goei was gone by 2009 and became CEO of Altice, S.A., a multinational cable company growing through acquisitions and takeovers. Goei is raising more capital through a stock IPO managed by Goldman Sachs and… Morgan Stanley;
  7. Franklin (Fritz) W. Hobbs: In addition to serving as an adviser to private equity firms and director of Molson Coors Brewing Co., Hobbs has served as board chairman at Ally Financial, formerly GMAC, as GM declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was bailed out by U.S. taxpayers;
  8. Neil B. Morganbesser: An investment banker, Morganbesser worked on mergers and acquisitions at Bear Stearns & Co., until the company’s sub-prime hedge funds sank like the Titanic. The investment firm was seeking taxpayer assistance, but ended up being acquired by J.P. Morgan in a hastily arranged deal instead. Charter claims Morganbesser has 20 years of experience providing financial and strategic advice to a full range of clients, including entrepreneurs, large corporations, governments, etc., but evidently wasn’t much help to his employer during the global financial crisis.
  9. Eamonn O’Hare: Served as the chief financial officer of Virgin Media Inc., the UK’s leading cable television business, from 2009 until 2013. Unfortunately for him, most U.K. residents prefer satellite TV. But that didn’t hurt his bottom line. After Liberty Global acquired the operation in 2013, O’Hare got to share over $367 million in cash bonuses with certain other Virgin executives coming from a company that also has a vested interest in Charter Communications;
  10. David A. Peacock: Another beer guy, Peacock most recently served as the president of Anheuser-Busch;
  11. Michael E. Salvati: Another mergers and acquisitions guy, Salvati has been president at Oakridge Consulting, Inc., which provides interim management, management consulting and corporate advisory services to companies ranging in size from start-ups to multinational corporations, since February 2000. In short, he tries to promote financial growth at companies recently merged or acquired;
  12. Irwin Simon: Founder of the Hain Celestial Group, a leading “natural and organic products company.” Brands including Arrowhead Mills, Bearitos, Rosetto and Rice Dream are well-known in organic food sections of local supermarkets, although few customers probably realize they belong to a giant conglomerate. Other divisions, specializing in “woo-woo personal care” offer dubious “calming body washes” costing $13 or more that feature extract of marigold. Charter says Simon would bring “his unique perspective on all aspects of advertising and marketing services” to a newly merged Charter-Time Warner Cable;
  13. John E. (Jack) Welsh III: president of Avalon Capital Partners LLC — another private equity investment firm.

analysis“If Time Warner Cable management refuses to negotiate on reasonable terms, we believe Charter will likely secure the votes required to win a proxy fight,” said Jonathan Chaplin, a research analyst with New Street Telco.

“It is clear that Charter is nominating a slate of directors for the sole purpose of pressuring our Board into accepting the same lowball offer that it previously considered and unanimously rejected,” said Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus. “Our Board remains focused on maximizing shareholder value. We are confident in our strategic plan, which was detailed publicly on January 30, and we are not going to let Charter steal the company.”

Marcus may have one last card to play should Charter’s nominees end up on Time Warner Cable’s board of directors. All board members must serve the best interests of the company they oversee, not the company that helped get them elected. An independent evaluation of Charter’s offer must not be influenced by outsiders, or the board members may face lawsuits from angry shareholders. The Wall Street Journal notes this requirement has tripped up hostile bidders before. Air Products & Chemicals Inc. won three board seats at Airgas Inc. which Air Products had tried to buy back in 2010. Once on the board, the new board members recommended against the deal.

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More Hackery on Broadband Regulation from the AT&T-Funded Progressive Policy Institute

Phillip "Follow the Money" Dampier

Phillip “Follow the Money” Dampier

“In the 1990s, U.S. policymakers faced critical choices about who should build the Internet, how it should be governed, and to what extent it should be regulated and taxed. For the most part, they chose wisely to open a regulated telecommunications market to competition, stimulate private investment in broadband and digital technologies, and democratize access.” — Will Marshall, guest columnist

Is competition in Internet access robust enough for you? Has your provider been sufficiently stimulated to invest in the latest broadband technologies to keep America at the top of broadband speed and availability rankings? Is Net Neutrality the law of the land or the latest victim of a Verizon lawsuit to overturn the concept of democratizing access to online content?

I’m not certain what country Will Marshall lives in, but for most Americans, Internet access is provided by a duopoly of providers that must be dragged kicking and screaming to upgrade their networks without jacking up prices and limiting usage.

Marshall is president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute, a so-called “third way” group inspired by centrist Democrats led by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Unlike traditional liberals suspicious of corporate agendas, these Democrats were friendly to big business and welcomed the largess of corporate cash to keep them competitive in election races. It was under this atmosphere that Clinton signed the bought-and-paid-for 1996 Telecom Act, ghostwritten by lobbyists for big broadcasters, phone and cable companies, and other big media interests. Long on rhetoric about self-governing, free market competition but short on specifics, the ’96 law transformed the media landscape in ways that still impact us today.

ppiMedia ownership laws were relaxed, allowing massive buyouts of radio stations under a handful of giant corporations like Clear Channel, which promptly dispensed with large numbers of employees that provided locally produced programming. In their place, we now get cookie-cutter radio that sounds the same from Maine to Oregon. Television stations eagerly began lobbying for a similar framework for relaxing ownership limits in their business. Phone companies won their own freedoms from regulation, including largely toothless broadband regulations that allowed Internet providers to declare victory regardless of how good or bad broadband has gotten in the United States.

Marshall’s views appeared in a guest column this week in The Orlando Sentinel, which is open to publishing opinion pieces from writers hailing from Washington, D.C., without bothering to offer readers with some full disclosure.

Marshall

Marshall

While Marshall’s opinions may be his own, readers should be aware that PPI would likely not exist without its corporate sponsors — among them AT&T, hardly a disinterested player in the telecommunications policy debate.

Marshall’s column suggests competition is doing a great job at keeping prices low and allows you – the consumer – to decide which technologies and services thrive. There must be another reason my Time Warner Cable bill keeps increasing and my choice for broadband technology — fiber optics — is nowhere in sight. I don’t have a choice of Verizon FiOS, in part because phone and cable companies maintain fiefdoms where other phone and cable companies don’t dare to tread. That leaves me with one other option: Frontier Communications, which is still encouraging me to sign up for their 3.1Mbps DSL.

“The broadband Internet also is a powerful magnet for private investment,” Marshall writes. “In 2013, telecom and tech companies topped PPI’s ranking of the companies investing the most in the U.S. economy. And America is moving at warp speed toward the ‘Internet of Everything,’ which promises to spread the productivity-raising potential of digital technology across the entire economy.”

Nothing about AT&T or the cable companies is about “warp speed.” In reality, AT&T and Verizon plan to pour their enormous profits into corporate set-asides to repurchase their own stock, pay dividends to shareholders, and continue to richly compensate their executives. It’s good to know that PPI offers rankings that place telecom companies on top. Unfortunately, those without a financial connection to AT&T are less optimistic. The U.S. continues its long slide away from broadband leadership as even developing countries in the former Eastern Bloc race ahead of us. Verizon’s biggest single investment of 2013 wasn’t in the U.S. economy — it was to spend $130 billion to buyout U.K.-based Vodafone’s 45% ownership interest in Verizon Wireless. Verizon’s customers get stalled FiOS expansion, Cadillac-priced wireless service, and a plan to ditch rural landlines and push those customers to cell service instead.

AT&T financially supports the Progressive Policy Institute

AT&T financially supports the Progressive Policy Institute

“A recent federal court decision regarding the FCC’s Open Internet Order has prompted pro-regulatory advocates from the ’90s to demand a rewrite of the legal framework that allowed today’s Internet to flourish,” Marshall writes in a section that also includes insidious NSA wiretapping and Internet censorship in Russia and China.

Marshall’s AT&T public policy agenda is showing.

Net Neutrality proponents don’t advocate an open Internet for no reason. It was AT&T’s former CEO Ed Whitacre that threw down the gauntlet declaring Google and other content providers would not be allowed to use AT&T’s pipes for free. AT&T has since patented technology that will allow it to discriminate in favor of preferred web traffic while artificially slowing down content it doesn’t like on its network.

“Pro-regulatory advocates” are not the ones advocating change — it is AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, among others, that want to monetize Internet usage and web traffic for even higher profits. Net Neutrality as law protects the Internet experience Marshall celebrates. He just can’t see past AT&T’s money to realize that.

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HBO’s New Subscriber Growth is Mostly From Non-Paying Customers

Phillip Dampier February 5, 2014 Consumer News, Online Video No Comments

While cable companies continue to point to growing subscriber numbers for premium movie channels as evidence cable cord-cutting is not taking its toll, the owner of the country’s largest pay movie channel has undercut their argument.

Time Warner (Entertainment), owner of HBO, disclosed to investors recently that although the network picked up nearly two million new subscriber in the United States, most of those were watching the network for free through temporary promotional offers.

hbo free

Free or discounted offers for premium movie networks are not uncommon. Time Warner Cable frequently bundles a one-year subscription to Showtime/The Movie Channel in its promotions. HBO and Cinemax are often offered for 3-6 months at no charge by other pay television providers.

Many viewers drop the network(s) (or negotiate another free viewing promotion) when charges start appearing on their bill. For years, premium movie channels cost around $13 a month, and many cable operators sold extra premium channels at a discounted $7 a month. But prices have risen dramatically over the last five years. Time Warner Cable, for example, now charges $15.95/mo for HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and/or Starz.

Because of higher prices, HBO’s subscription revenue of $1.3 billion during the fourth quarter was up 8% year over year.

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Cable TV Cord Cutting: Myth or Reality?

Phillip Dampier February 4, 2014 Competition, Consumer News, Editorial & Site News 2 Comments

For years, cable operators have denied they have a problem.

But new evidence suggests Americans are cutting back on their cable television habit as prices continue to rise and alternatives become available.

One of the worst affected by cable cord cutters is Time Warner Cable, which has been consistently losing video customers month after month since 2009:

time-warner-cable-residential-customer-additions-000s-video-broadband_chartbuilder

Disputes with programmers and competition from satellite and telephone companies may not be enough to explain away the trend of subscriber losses. It also does not explain why Americans under 35 are increasingly unlikely to sign up for cable television at all.

Cable cord cutting -- fact or fiction?

Cable cord cutting — fact or fiction?

Nonsense, replies Bloomberg opinion columnist Matthew C. Klein:

It is tempting to think that the declining number of subscribers at the U.S.’s biggest cable-television companies is a symptom of the industry’s malaise as it slowly slides into obsolescence. Don’t buy it. The losses are accounted for in the gains by smaller and nimbler rivals.

[...] The customers who have been abandoning Comcast and Time Warner Cable in droves haven’t given up on paid TV content, however. Focusing on the travails of the biggest cable companies obscures the reality that, according to Bloomberg Industries, the total number of pay-TV subscribers is slightly higher now than it was at the end of 2008 and that there were probably more people paying for television subscriptions at the end of 2013 than at the end of 2012.

To the extent that individual company results tell us anything, it could be about where Americans are moving, or the relative quality of service offered by the various companies. In the 12 months ended Dec. 31, AT&T Inc. added 924,000 subscribers to its U-verse TV service, while Verizon Communications Inc. added 536,000 subscribers to its FiOS TV service. Since the end of 2008, the two companies best known for their wireless services have added about 8 million pay-TV subscribers — far more than Time Warner Cable and Comcast have lost.

Klein’s views mirror those of many cable industry executives who blame the economy for deteriorating cable television subscriber numbers. Many suggest multi-generational households are responsible — stay at home kids and older parents are sharing a single cable television subscription. Others claim discretionary income is squeezing some to downgrade, but not cancel, cable television service.

Klein’s accounting does not tell the entire story. Competition from telephone companies, especially AT&T’s U-verse, is not as pervasive against Time Warner Cable and Comcast as Klein suggests. In fact, Charter Communications is among the cable companies facing the biggest onslaught of competition from AT&T. U-verse has picked up many of its newest subscribers not because of a sudden urge to switch, but rather because the service has only just become available in several new markets as a result of AT&T’s expansion effort. Verizon FiOS is still slowly expanding within its current franchise areas as well. Neither Comcast or Time Warner Cable consider either service much of a serious competitive threat.

AT&T U-verse, the larger of the two telephone company services, has a TV penetration rate of just 21 percent of customer locations. FiOS, which serves a smaller customer base, has a 35 percent penetration rate for television. Cable remains dominant for now, even as it loses subscribers and market share.

Another way to measure cord cutting is to look at the subscriber numbers of major basic cable networks that are most likely to be a part of any channel lineup. ESPN, for example, lost around 1.5 million subscribers between September 2011 and September 2013. Most of that loss came from cord cutting or downgrades to tiers like “Broadcast Basic,” consisting mostly of local television stations. ESPN’s numbers include all pay television platforms — satellite, telco TV, and cable.

In spite of the subscriber losses, cable industry profits remain healthy. Revenue growth these days comes from broadband service and rate increases.

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Time Warner Cable Cuts Off Super Bowl in SoCal; Get Your Credit

Phillip Dampier February 4, 2014 Consumer News, HissyFitWatch, Time Warner Cable, Video 2 Comments

twc laTime Warner Cable will provide a free pay-per-view movie or a $5 gift card to Los Angeles-area customers after the cable company lost the Standard Definition signal of Fox affiliate KTTV for about an hour during the Super Bowl on Sunday.

KTTV’s signal was lost just before halftime in and around Los Angeles County from Hacienda Heights and Hancock Park all the way to Santa Monica, as well in parts of Ventura County. Blank screens prompted a deluge of complaint calls to Time Warner Cable’s customer service line, many met with repeated busy signals.

“I’d rather have cable in North Korea than Time Warner Cable,” tweeted Paige Graham. “Time Warner Cable: Your customer service is worse than Denver’s defense,” added Alex Stein.

twcGreenAlthough analog cable customers were forced to watch a Spanish language channel’s coverage of the game, those viewing KTTV’s HD signal on Time Warner Cable were unaffected by the disruption.

For the frustration, Time Warner Cable is offering what they call “a gift of appreciation.”

“Although most of our customers didn’t experience an interruption, we want to express our sincere apologies to all Time Warner Cable TV customers in the Los Angeles area,” said Deborah Picciolo, senior vice president of operations at Time Warner Cable. “Digital TV customers will receive a credit for the cost of an On Demand movie once purchased, and analog customers will receive a $5 gift card. These will be provided automatically; no customer action is necessary.”

Customers should contact customer service if their free pay-per-view movie credit doesn’t appear on a future bill or if the gift card never arrives.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/KTLA Los Angeles Time Warner Cable Resolves Service Outage 2-2-14.flv

KTLA in Los Angeles covered Super Bowl parties in Southern California and frustrated Time Warner Cable subscribers that lost the game for about an hour. (2:22)

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Kansas’ Cable Industry Ghostwrote New Anticompetition Bill That Could Hamper Google Fiber

Federico Consulting has the Kansas Cable Lobby as a paying client and works behind the scenes in the state legislature to push their agenda.

Federico Consulting has the Kansas Cable Lobby as a paying client and works behind the scenes in the state legislature to push their agenda.

A cable industry lobbying group wrote the bill introduced last week in the Kansas Senate that could dramatically restrict municipal broadband networks from launching and hamper Google Fiber from expanding its gigabit broadband network outside of Kansas City.

A Kansas Senate employee told Ars Technica the proposed bill – SB 304 was submitted for introduction in the state legislature by John Federico, president of Topeka-based lobbying firm Federico Consulting, on behalf of the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association (KCTA). The cable industry trade association counts among its members: Cable ONE, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable — the largest cable operators in the state.

Joshua Montgomery, a Kansan directly affected by the possible passage of SB 304, notes the legislation could also impact Google’s efforts to expand its gigabit broadband network outside of Kansas City, Kan., because the project relies on a close working relationship between local city officials and Google that would be prohibited under the bill.

“Even joint partnerships like the one between Google and Kansas City would be illegal under this bill.” Google Fiber, he pointed out, came to Kansas City after Google received what the Competitive Enterprise Institute called “stunning regulatory concessions and incentives from local governments, including free access to virtually everything the city owns or controls: rights of way, central office space, power, interconnections with anchor institutions, marketing and direct mail, and office space for Google employees.”

Federico denied the proposed legislation has anything to do with Google, telling Ars Technica Google never came up during KCTA board meetings. But Federico did admit the current bill’s definition of “unserved” is “overly broad.”

Federico evidently had enough sway with the Kansas Senate Committee to postpone a hearing on the bill scheduled for Tuesday until the bill can be “tweaked.”

“I don’t know about you, but I think we should all be concerned that the cable lobby is writing our telecommunications policy,” Montgomery said on his group’s Facebook page now organizing to oppose the bill.

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Time Warner Cable Plans to Triple Broadband Speeds (If They Survive a Hostile Takeover)

Time Warner Cable today announced major improvements in its service, including a tripling of broadband speeds and equipment upgrades that will first arrive in New York City and Los Angeles.

With the cable company facing a hostile takeover effort by Charter Communications with Comcast’s help, CEO Rob Marcus sought to appease shareholders that worry the cable company’s recent lackluster results originate from outdated technology, poor customer service, and broadband speeds that are well below the cable industry average.

Time Warner Cable will have to increase capital spending to pay for the upgrades, expected to cost $3.8 billion annually for the next three years.

nycla enhancements

CEO Rob Marcus calls the effort a “transformation of the Time Warner Cable customer experience.” The upgrade program is called TWC Maxx for now inside Time Warner Cable, but will have its own brand when it publicly launches later this year.

Here are some highlights:

Marcus

Marcus

TV Service

  • Network infrastructure upgrades to enhance reliability
  • New advanced set-top boxes
  • A six-tuner DVR
  • A cloud-based interface and navigation
  • An expanded on-demand library

Internet

  • Dramatic free speed boosts for all customers
  • A new Ultimate speed tier of 300/20Mbps

Unfortunately, customers outside of Los Angeles and New York will have to wait up to two years for the upgrades to reach their community.

twcmax

“With ‘TWC Maxx,’ we’re going to essentially reinvent the TWC experience market–by-market,” said Marcus. “We’ll triple Internet speeds for customers with our most popular tiers of service, add more community WiFi, dramatically improve the TV product and, perhaps most importantly, we’ll set a high bar in our industry for differentiated exceptional customer service. We’re focused on providing the features and benefits that matter most to our customers.”

The most noticeable improvement will be free broadband speed upgrades. Customers with Standard or above Internet service will also receive the latest generation cable modems including Advanced Wireless Gateways for customers with Turbo to Ultimate tier service. Marcus did not say whether the company is ending is monthly equipment fees for cable modems.

Here are the new speed tiers:

  • Everyday Low Price - Currently 2/1Mbps – New 3/1Mbps
  • Basic - Currently 3/1Mbps – New 10/1Mbps
  • Standard - Currently 15/1Mbps – New 50/5Mbps
  • Turbo - Currently 20/2Mbps – New 100/10Mbps
  • Extreme – Currently 30/5Mbps – New 200/20Mbps
  • Ultimate - Currently 50/5Mbps – New 300/20Mbps

nyla

New York and Los Angeles Upgrade Schedule

The first four network hubs scheduled for upgrade are those in West Hollywood and Costa Mesa, Calif. and portions of Woodside (Queens) and Staten Island, N.Y. The rest of both cities will be upgraded by the end of this year.

Los Angeles customers will also see analog cable television service discontinued in favor of digital later this year. New York City has already been converted to all-digital television. Customers in both cities will be able to schedule same-day appointments and one-hour service windows.

Who Gets Upgraded Next?

Analysts expect Time Warner Cable will upgrade cities where they face competition from U-verse and FiOS after completing NYC and LA.

Analysts expect Time Warner Cable will upgrade cities where they face competition from U-verse and FiOS after completing NYC and LA.

Analysts say Time Warner Cable’s upgrade plans are more aggressive than initially anticipated and many expect the company to move quickly, especially in competitive markets, to boost subscriber numbers and cut customer defections to help convince shareholders it is worthwhile to reject Charter’s hostile takeover bid.

The most likely markets to be targeted for upgrades after New York and Los Angeles are those facing stiff competition from Google Fiber and Verizon FiOS. Cities where AT&T U-verse delivers competition are likely to come next, and those cities where Time Warner Cable only faces competition from telephone company DSL service will likely be the last to be upgraded. However, long before that, Time Warner Cable could be sold off to other cable operators that will make these upgrade plans moot.

Marcus today reiterated his rejection of Charter’s latest $132.50 a share offer. Marcus said the cable company is only interested in an offer above $160 a share, and that at least $100 of that must be in cash, with the balance in Charter stock. Charter will have trouble delivering that amount of cash without the assistance of other cable operators.

Craig Moffett with MoffettNathanson Research isn’t sure Marcus’ plans are enough to keep TWC from being sold. He expects Charter to soon increase its offer above $140 with the help of Comcast, which is willing to pay cash for Time Warner Cable systems in New York, New England, and North Carolina after a deal with Charter is complete.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Bloomberg Rob Marcus Interviewed 1-30-14.flv

Robert Marcus, chief executive officer of Time Warner Cable Inc., talks about the cable company’s fourth-quarter earnings and its forthcoming upgrades, and Charter Communications Inc.’s $37.4 billion buyout bid. Time Warner Cable beat fourth-quarter profit estimates and forecast subscriber growth. Marcus speaks with Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television. (8:38)

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Anatomy of a Deal: Time Warner Cable vs. Charter/Comcast

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Bloomberg Anatomy of a Deal 1-29-14.flv

Bloomberg News’ Alex Sherman and Porter Bibb, managing partner at Mediatech, break down the background and potential moves in the cable industry involving Comcast, Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable and the regulatory hurdles in their way on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers.” One interesting development will be the future of Cablevision, which will be an obvious takeover target for Comcast should Time Warner Cable be sold and split up. (9:14)

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Kansas’ Senate Commerce Committee Members Well-Compensated by Big Telecom

lobbyist-cashThe Kansas State Legislature website makes it very difficult to find exactly who wrote and introduced Senate Bill 304, the laughingly titled, “Municipal Communication’s Network and Private Telecommunications Investment Safeguards Act.

In fact, the bill should be titled, “The Big Telecom Duopoly Protection Act,” because it makes it almost impossible for any publicly owned network to get off the ground and compete in the state of Kansas, even in places where the nearest cable or DSL connection is dozens of miles away.

Instead of naming names, the legislature’s website prefers to show the bill introduced by the Committee on Commerce, sponsored by the Committee on Commerce, and referred to the Committee on Commerce for further consideration. Since they apparently wrote and co-sponsored the bill, we don’t expect it will take them too long to rubber stamp their approval.

The Republican-dominated members of the committee are already well-acquainted with the state’s largest cable and phone companies, as their campaign donations from 2012 illustrate:

  • Sen. Julia Lynn (R), Chairperson: AT&T ($1,750), Comcast ($1,500), CenturyLink ($1,000);
  • Sen. Susan Wagle (R), Vice-Chair: Cox Communications ($1,750), AT&T ($1,500), Kansas Cable Telecommunication Association ($1,250), Comcast ($1,000), CenturyLink ($1,000);
  • Sen. Tom Holland (D), Ranking Member: AT&T ($1,000);
  • Sen. Pat Apple (R): AT&T ($1,000), Comcast ($1,000), Kansas Cable Telecommunication Association ($250), Time Warner Cable ($250), Verizon ($250), CenturyLink ($250);
  • Sen. Jim Denning (R): CenturyLink ($250);
  • Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D): AT&T ($1,000), Cox Communications ($1000), Kansas Cable Telecommunication Association ($250);
  • Sen. Jeff Longbine (R): AT&T ($2,000), CenturyLink ($1,750), Cox Communications ($500);
  • Sen. Jeff Melcher (R): CenturyLink ($1,000);
  • Sen. Robert Olson (R): AT&T ($1,750), Comcast ($1,500), CenturyLink ($1,250), Cox Communications ($750);
  • Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R): Comcast ($1,000).

Data: Project Vote Smart, 1/30/2014

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Cable’s Newest Triple Play: Time Warner Cable, Charter, and Comcast

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Bloomberg New Triple Play TWC Comcast Charter 1-28-14.flv

Bloomberg News reports Time Warner Cable may face a proxy fight to force a sale of the company to Charter Communications. In turn, Comcast will pay Charter billions to take control of Time Warner Cable subscribers in the northeast and North Carolina. Industry analyst Craig Moffett predicts Comcast’s deep pockets may infuse billions in cash to sweeten Charter’s offer. It also means Comcast is not interested in buying all of Time Warner Cable itself. (3:11)

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