Charter’s 1st-quarter loss increases

Cabler down $280.7 mil

Charter Communications said Wednesday its first-quarter loss widened to $280.7 million from red ink of $180.7 million in the same period last year, as the Paul Allen-controlled cabler spent heavily on system upgrades to facilitate the roll-out of digital services.

The St. Louis-based company has a goal of adding 18,000 digital cable customers per week throughout 2001. By March 31, Charter’s digital customers totaled 1.3 million, a roughly 26% boost from a year earlier after adjusting for changes to its cable systems over the past 12 months.

Charter’s revenue jumped 14% in the latest quarter, to $873.8 million.

CEO Jerry Kent said Charter expects its revenue to grow 13%-15% in the second quarter and 14%-16% for all of 2001.

Kent said the company plans to continue its rollout of video-on-demand services and expects to make VOD available to 2.2 million homes by the end of the year. In total, Charter has 6.4 million subscribers in 40 U.S. states.