Charter Communications, Inc.NASDAQ
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  • Tue, Oct. 18, 5:40 PM
    • Charter Communications (CHTR +0.9%) is hiring hundreds of workers in San Antonio, part of the company's plans to "onshore" workers and build up its call center staff in the U.S.
    • With its acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, the company has looked to nearly double its call center footprint in the San Antonio area, a popular location for call centers. It also inherited a TWC call center in Harlingen, Texas.
    • The company has said it plans to relocate 20,000 jobs to the U.S. in connection with the acquisitions.
    • Last week, Charter filed a mass-layoff notice tied to letting go 258 workers (in accounting and finance) in North Carolina.
    | Tue, Oct. 18, 5:40 PM
  • Fri, Oct. 14, 1:58 PM
    • Charter Communications (CHTR +0.6%) is laying off 258 North Carolina employees according to a mass-layoff notice the company filed.
    • Layoffs of the workers at the company's Charlotte location will run from Nov. 1 to the end of June, and hit finance and accounting staff -- a common outcome when mergers (such as Charter's buyouts of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks) create redundancies in those areas.
    • Some 70 senior accountants are set for layoff, along with 11 financial auditors, 18 accounting managers, and five VPs of finance.
    • Charter currently employs 1,367 in Charlotte.
    | Fri, Oct. 14, 1:58 PM | 3 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 12, 12:16 PM
    • Arris (ARRS +0.3%) will be a key partner in the development of Charter Communications' (CHTR +0.2%) WorldBox 2.0 platform, targeted at traditional TV sets across the Charter footprint.
    • The next-gen WorldBox 2.0 is a hybrid video platform that expands on Charter's downloadable conditional access capabilities as well as adding more graphics capabilities and processing power. The platform "gives Charter the flexibility to deploy a single platform across our entire expanded network," says Charter's Jim Blackley.
    • The two companies had recently entered into a warrant agreement providing for Charter to acquire Arris shares based on targeted sales of Arris equipment to Charter over the next three years.
    | Wed, Oct. 12, 12:16 PM
  • Fri, Oct. 7, 7:25 PM
    • Stock in set-top box maker Arris (ARRS +6.8%) jumped today after it detailed a warrant agreement with Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), now the second-largest cable company in the U.S., and analysts came in with bullish takes.
    • The agreement gives Charter a warrant to buy up to 6M shares of Arris stock at a strike price of $28.54 (vs. today's close of $29.65) after Charter buys a certain amount of products from Arris.
    • Needham reiterated a Buy rating and price target of $32. "While it's difficult to precisely quantify the impact of the Charter agreement, we are qualitatively encouraged by Charter's willingness to sign an agreement that incentivizes it [to] purchase an increasing amount of product from ARRS in two consecutive years," writes analyst Richard Valera.
    • Arris had entered a similar arrangement with top cable company Comcast this summer.
    | Fri, Oct. 7, 7:25 PM | 1 Comment
  • Thu, Sep. 29, 10:37 AM
    • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal for new rules governing pay TV set-top boxes -- set for a vote today, but facing opposition from the industry and even a swing-vote Democrat on the panel -- has been pulled from today's meeting (now getting under way), but will stay in circulation.
    • Wheeler had changed a previous proposal and appeared to move closer to pay-TV industry wishes for an app-based approach, but still faced pushback from service providers and resistance from Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who along with Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly could form the three votes to sink the proposal.
    | Thu, Sep. 29, 10:37 AM | 11 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 22, 12:02 PM
    • Asked about announcements earlier at the Communacopia Conference regarding Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and now Charter's (CHTR +0.6%) entries into wireless service, T-Mobile (TMUS +1.3%) COO Mike Sievert was sanguine: "Things in cable happen at the pace of cable."
    • "We think it's great," he says. "If you're a T-Mobile shareholder it's hard to figure out how it could go badly for you," he says, pointing to T-Mobile's focus. If the companies come in and take customers, that's a market of not four but six carriers "in a world where T-Mobile is highly efficacious" at mobile. "Let's say they stumble, but they still believe in the vision of convergence. Also good. Or if they lose interest, and take their toys and go home ... also good."
    • T-Mobile earlier this week released preliminary Q3 subscriber results that said it added 753,000 branded postpaid phone subs. Any benefit from the new iPhone 7? "Most of the benefit of the switching is in Q4, because we don't report the add until the phone ships to the customer, and most of the shipments are after Oct. 1," Sievert said. The company's free iPhone 7 trade-in promotion is ending Sunday, they said.
    • Separately, the company suffered a significant overnight outage of its data service. It confirmed issues at 3:31 a.m. ET, and said service was back at 5:47 a.m.
    | Thu, Sep. 22, 12:02 PM | 36 Comments
  • Wed, Sep. 21, 5:51 PM
    • At the Communacopia Conference, Charter (CHTR +3.7%) CEO Tom Rutledge didn't dissuade speculation that the company would join Comcast in wireless ambitions, saying they've told Verizon to activate their MVNO service-resale agreement (as Comcast did last year).
    • On wireless Internet competition: "When I was at the FCC recently ... I constantly told them that the cellular industry should be looked at as a competitor." But he's confident in Charter. "We're on a pathway to get 10 gigs symmetrical to each house. There's capital involved but not a complete rebuild or retrenching of all the fiber in the country ... We think we have the best architecture to bring speeds up ... and virtual reality will become the way we work and play."
    • "When we talk internally we say we're goin' straight to 6G ... a way of saying: 5G is a telco standard that's not even developed ... but we have the capability of having very powerful networks in every home with relatively small cells."
    • Net debt on trailing 12-months pro forma adjusted EBITDA is sitting at 4.4 times after the acquisitions, and capital allocation wasn't likely to change until the company got closer to a target of 4 times. With free cash flow generation, though, Charter's heading there quickly. "What is the opportunity when that moment arrives? Do we have an acquisition model that's accretive, do we want to buy back our stock, do we want a dividend? ... The order we'd want to do them is what I just said."
    • But is there bandwidth for more acquisitions after swallowing two cable companies for a combined $88.4B? "It's just cable," Rutledge deadpans. But seriously, "look how long it takes to get approved. If you have an opportunity to invest in the business, and think the business is a good business, we'd like to do that ... These opportunities come along when they do; you can't force them."
    | Wed, Sep. 21, 5:51 PM
  • Wed, Sep. 21, 5:43 PM
    • Integration of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks is going well, Charter (CHTR +3.7%) CEO Tom Rutledge tells the Communacopia Conference: "The best thing that has happened is that not much has happened, in the sense that nothing broke." But new pricing/packaging has already been rolled out in two regions -- southern California and Texas.
    • The video product is superior to satellite, "our biggest competitor in our footprint." He says the company is now selling a minimum Internet speed in L.A. of 100 Mbps. Those buying higher speeds are "a small universe" that doesn't get much focus from Charter.
    • When it comes to even newer live-TV competition, like the likes of upcoming DirecTV Now streaming from AT&T or Hulu's live product, "they all have their limitations," Rutledge says. "Fifty-seven percent of our video customer base subscribes to Netflix. So they're not all substitutes. I don't think Netflix is a substitute for what we sell; it's more of an ancillary service."
    • He's trying to put such services into Charter's user interface. "Our primary objective is to follow the customers wherever they go." But what about not just legacy Hulu, but the upcoming live service? "I don't know what that is," he says, suggesting a wait-and-see approach.
    | Wed, Sep. 21, 5:43 PM
  • Mon, Sep. 19, 7:50 PM
    • The Department for Professional Employees -- a coalition of technical-worker unions affiliated with AFL-CIO -- has joined other unions in sounding off against the FCC's revised set-top box rules proposal.
    • The group criticized the "de facto" compulsory licensing scheme set up by the agency's chairman, Tom Wheeler, in order to prevent anticompetitive agreements among pay-TV providers.
    • That regime is "unacceptable and unworkable," the DPE says.
    • "The FCC does not have this authority," says Paul Almeida, the DPE's president, in a statement. "The one-sided proposal undermines the value of creative works, shrinks revenue streams that middle-class creators depend on to make a living and threatens the hard-fought wages and benefits of creative industry workers."
    • Previously: FCC Chairman: Open to changes to get set-top box rules passed (Sep. 15 2016)
    | Mon, Sep. 19, 7:50 PM | 24 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 15, 2:20 PM
    • Speaking to the Senate, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says he may yet change his proposal of rules to open the market for pay TV set-top boxes, set for a final vote by the commission on Sept. 29.
    • Wheeler's proposal, which focuses heavily on requiring apps from providers so that consumers can watch without costly rental boxes, had been modified already from a plan offered in January.
    • The FCC has said the set-top box market is at $20B a year, and consumers pay an average annual cost of $231 (aside from programming and service costs) for the boxes -- up 185% since 1994 while other consumer electronics have dropped 90% in price over that period.
    • Any new revisions may be targeted at the swing vote on the five-member FCC, Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who has expressed concerns about the licensing body created by the new rules to prevent anticompetitive agreements between providers.
    | Thu, Sep. 15, 2:20 PM | 12 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 8, 8:42 PM
    • A new FCC draft order circulating to regulate pay TV's approach to set-top devices has left questions over just how comprehensive the changes would be.
    • Chairman Tom Wheeler's fact sheet about the rules laid out how providers would need to create apps enabling consumers to see all the content they paid for on their own devices, without paying expensive rental fees for a box. (The FCC estimates Americans spend $20B on box leasing fees that have jumped 185% since 1994, a period during which other consumer electronics have fallen 90% in price.)
    • Top pay TV providers (those serving about 95% of the subscriber population) will need to comply with the new rules within two years if they're adopted in a Sept. 29 vote.
    • As for platforms, Wheeler's fact sheet singled out Roku, iOS/Android and Windows, but any operating system with U.S. shipments of at least 5M devices qualifies to have an app written for it by providers.
    • Devices would also meet the requirement if they're already built on a qualifying platform (such as on Android).
    • Alternately, smaller device providers could strike their own deals with providers (such as with Comcast's Xfinity TV Partner Program) to get access to the apps.
    | Thu, Sep. 8, 8:42 PM | 17 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 8, 4:22 PM
    • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has circulated a final-rules version of his "ditch the box" proposal to open the market for pay television set-top boxes, and it's moved considerably toward an app-based approach cable providers favor.
    • "Today, I am sharing with FCC colleagues a plan to end the set-top box stranglehold and monthly rental fees," Wheeler says in presenting the new order, which he says simplifies the original proposal while still fulfilling Congress' mandate to the agency to ensure consumers can use preferred devices to access programming they've paid for.
    • Keys to the new order: Providers will have to offer a free app for subscribers to access all the programming they pay for on a variety of devices, "including tablets, smartphones, gaming systems, streaming devices or smart TVs." And consumers won't be forced to pay monthly rental fees for a box. Providers will also have to make their apps available to popular platforms including Roku, iOS/Android and Windows.
    • Also, the rules force providers to allow consumers to search content in one place whether it comes from the provider, over-the-top services or a programmer's stand-alone app, with no discrimination allowed.
    • Copyright and licensing are protected as providers will oversee end-to-end content delivery with control over their apps, Wheeler says.
    • The FCC will vote on the new order Sept. 29; if it's adopted, the biggest pay-TV providers (covering 95% of subscribers) will have two years to comply.
    • Pay TV players: CMCSA -0.3%, CHTR -3.2%, CVC/OTCPK:OTCPK:ATCEY, T -0.2%, DISH +1.6%, VZ -0.2%, FTR +0.9%, CTL -0.2%
    | Thu, Sep. 8, 4:22 PM | 34 Comments
  • Wed, Aug. 31, 5:57 PM
    • Charter Communications (CHTR +0.5%) -- newly larger after its deals for Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks -- is up 3.4% after hours following news that it's joining the S&P 500 after the close on Sept. 7.
    • Charter's replacing EMC, headed for a purchase by Dell around that time, in the index.
    • Meanwhile, Kraft Heinz (KHC +1.7%) will replace EMC in the S&P 100.
    | Wed, Aug. 31, 5:57 PM | 6 Comments
  • Wed, Aug. 31, 5:35 PM
    | Wed, Aug. 31, 5:35 PM | 2 Comments
  • Mon, Aug. 29, 8:48 AM
    • Guggenheim puts a Buy rating on Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) shares with a $300 price target, saying the company's financial growth potential remains underappreciated.
    • "We expect: 1) strong subscriber and revenue growth as the company takes market share, 2) margin improvement as operating efficiencies are realized, and 3) incremental investor interest, particularly if the company is added to the S&P500 index, to be the key share drivers over the next 12 months," the firm said in a note.
    | Mon, Aug. 29, 8:48 AM
  • Wed, Aug. 24, 7:50 PM
    • The first benchmark has been hit for closing the FCC's broadcast incentive spectrum auction, but the second benchmark will be a harder task.
    • Bids have reached $16.3B after 15 rounds in the forward auction, which began last week as a second phase following an earlier reverse auction.
    • That's exceeded the $15.9B total the FCC set as the first benchmark for closing -- but the other benchmark is $88.38B, which the FCC needs to pay broadcasters who set that price in the reverse auction as well as cover costs.
    • There's still time, particularly with the price on the blocks rising by 5% a day, John Eggerton notes. But falling short of the $88.38B could mean reopening reverse auction rounds and a completion delayed into next year.
    • Spectrum players: VZ, T, TMUS, S, DISH, SBGI, EVC, CMCSA, CHTR, NXST, CBS, MEG
    | Wed, Aug. 24, 7:50 PM | 66 Comments