Rutledge: Charter would consider more cable system acquisitions
Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) would consider buying more cable systems following the $1.63 billion deal it struck with Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) in February to acquire that company's Optimum West division, CEO Tom Rutledge said Tuesday.
"If we can find other opportunities that are similar to Charter's opportunities--and we can manage them and get then for an appropriate price--of course we're interested," Rutledge told analysts on Charter's first-quarter earnings call.
John Malone's Liberty Media (Nasdaq: LMCA), which recently paid $2.62 billion for a 27.3 percent stake in Charter, could help the Stamford, Conn.-based MSO expand. The Charter investment secured board seats for Liberty executives including Malone, Liberty CEO Greg Maffei and Liberty Global (Nasdaq: LBTYA) CTO Balan Nair.
"As board members, they're experienced operating in this space, not only here, but around the world," Rutledge said. "They bring us a level of expertise that's really unmatched."
Rutledge also touted Charter's plan to convert to an all-digital platform and deploy a cloud-based interactive program guide similar to products that have been deployed by Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Cablevision. He said the new platform and guide would allow Charter to reduce spending on customer premise equipment and help it deliver programming to connected TVs and other IP devices.
Rutledge also downplayed the impact that Aereo could have on the pay TV business if it continues to succeed in its copyright litigation with major broadcasters. "I don't see it as a game changer, regardless of whether its legal or not," Rutledge said, noting that he expects consumers will continue to rely on cable and satellite TV subscriptions for home entertainment.
Special Report: Cable in the first quarter of 2013