Charter's Rutledge: It's not the Internet or cable, it's the TV business

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WASHINGTON, D.C.--The cable industry can no longer be separated from the Internet when it comes to content, according to Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) CEO Tom Rutledge.  In fact, distinguishing the two confuses customers and creates problems for the industry.

Tom Rutledge, Charter Communications

Rutledge (Source: Charter / NCTA)

 Speaking at the opening session of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) show here today, Rutledge said that customers don't really distinguish between the two platforms and therefore content companies shouldn't try to control where their content gets distributed because ultimately it will be on multiple screens.

"We get into conflicts over whether it's the internet or cable TV," Rutledge said. "It is content and people are confused by notion of internet and cable. Separating the two creates regulatory issues and business model issues," he said.

The idea of content being distributed across multiple screens was also championed by fellow panelist, Roku General Manager Steve Shannon, who said that three-fourths of all Roku users are discovering new value in pay-TV because of their streaming service they get via Roku.

Social media giant Twitter sees itself as a complementary service to cable TV. Ali Rowghani, COO of Twitter, said that Twitter helps drive discovery on cable because a large percentage of tweets are about television, particularly live television. "You are not going to find a bigger supporter of television than Twitter," he said.

Interestingly, NCTA President and CEO Michael Powell opened the session with some stats about the cable industry, including the fact that 85 percent of households today have access to broadband speeds of 100 Mbps, thanks to continued innovation by the cable industry.  In addition, Powell championed the cable industry's efforts in bringing broadband to more people, including those in the rural United States.

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