Cablers are on a roll

Charter optomistic at investor conference

Cablers Charter Communications and Cox Communications issued bullish pronouncements on the rollout of new services Tuesday at Merrill Lynch’s media and entertainment investors’ conference in Pasadena, but Charter chopped its basic-cable forecast.

“We’ve reviewed our internal marketing plans, management focus and current operating results in light of the current economic environment and believe that a rebalancing of emphasis to digital and data sales at the expense of marginal increases in basic customer growth is the right business decision,” Charter CEO Jerry Kent said.

The St. Louis-based cable systems operator, controlled by high-tech billionaire Paul Allen, said execs expect its basic-cable subscriptions to grow less than its previous forecast of 2%.

“We’ll remain mindful of the ongoing need for internal basic customer growth,” Kent added. “I’m confident Charter will continue to lead the industry as we have for the past five years.”

Recent acquisitions mean Charter should exceed an earlier year-end projection of 2 million digital customers and 550,000-600,000 data subs by 150,000 digital customers and 30,000 data subs, the chief exec said.

Similarly, Cox chief financial officer Jimmy Hayes told attendees at the Merrill confab that the Atlanta-based cabler is “very pleased with the continued rollout of new services in the third quarter so far.”

Hayes said “favorable seasonal factors in the second half” spurred an average 12,200 new digital subs per week, 8,600 new high-speed Internet customers and 4,300 phone-service subs during July and August.

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