Forbes  May 16  Comment 
In early trading on Monday, shares of Baidu (BIDU) topped the list of the day's best performing components of the Nasdaq 100 index, trading up 3.8%. Year to date, Baidu has lost about 12.3% of its value.
Benzinga  May 13  Comment 
Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR) announced late Thursday afternoon it has received the approval from the California Public Utilities Commission for its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE: TWC). The U.S. Federal...
Reuters  May 12  Comment 
Charter Communications Inc said on Thursday its proposal to buy Time Warner Cable Inc was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, overcoming the last...
MarketWatch  May 6  Comment 
The Federal Communications Commission approved Charter Communications Inc.’s $55 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc., with conditions.
Forbes  May 3  Comment 
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Reuters  Apr 28  Comment 
* Says "Very pleased with the progress of closing of time warner transaction" - Conf Call on Time Warner merger
Reuters  Apr 28  Comment 
Time Warner Cable Inc , which is in the process of being bought by Charter Communications Inc , reported a 7.2 percent rise in quarterly revenue as it signed up more customers than expected for its high-speed data services.
Benzinga  Apr 26  Comment 
Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. (NYSE: ETH) shares gained 7.42 percent to reach a new 52-week high of $33.30 after the company reported upbeat Q3 results. Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT) shares surged 1.41 percent to reach a new 52-week...


Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) sells bundled cable, internet and landline telephone services to 5.7 million customers in 29 States.[1] Charter is the nation's fourth-largest bundled cable, internet, and telephone provider, but its revenues have contracted steadily as it struggles to compete with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cox Communications. These cable providers are larger than Charter, and as a result they can offer cheaper and more extensive services. [2] [3] [4]

Charter's economic niche is also threatened by a growing number of telecommunications companies like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and Bell South. These firms are expanding into video and internet services by partnering with Satellite TV companies like DirecTV and Dish Network, while also developing fiber optics technology that will enable a video, internet, and telephone triple play at much higher speeds than what's possible with current equipment. To put this in perspective, Charter is only the 12th largest telecommunications company, despite the fact that it is the 4th largest bundled home service provider. [5] The single largest reason Charter has reported net losses year after year is its $21 billion dollar debt, eventually led to the company's bankruptcy.

Business Financials

Charter Communications sells monthly telecom services such as high-speed Internet access, video on demand, high-definition and interactive television, and VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) to residential and business customers. Charter also helps businesses with networking, entertainment, telephone and advertising services.

Due to its heavy indebtedness, Charter has acknowledged that its required interest payments will continue to cause net losses for the foreseeable future. Charter's financial situation prevents R&D and significant capital outlays. [6]

Segment information

Charter's physical products (that require a serviceman to come to your house) can be split into three categories: phones, internet lines, and cable boxes. Charter also generates miscellaneous revenue from networking solutions and advertising. Charter tries to bundle these products together, but some are more successful than others and make up a larger part of Charter's business. The pie-graph below shows that Charter primarily sells cable boxes, fewer internet lines, and even fewer phones.

Here is a more in-depth description of Charter's products.

Video Service Units

Charter Communications provides standard hotel-room style television services with options to increase the number of channels available, buy digital video, premium channels, pay-per-view, OnDemand, high-definition, and digital video recording.

Internet Units

Charter provides monthly high-speed internet service to its users. It sells both standard high speed (30 Mbps) and high-speed plus (100 Mbps) packaged with free e-mail accounts, anti-virus software, and online storage. [7]

Telephone Units

VoIP technology digital voice signals over the internet allows unlimited nationwide calling and all standard land-line services. International services also provided.[8]

Additional Services

Charter has two additional revenue sources, Commercial Services and Advertising Sales, which charge businesses for networking solutions and advertising space. Revenue Efficiency and Expansion

The above graph shows that Charter's internet services have higher rates of return than their video and phone services. Despite lower rates of return, Charter gets most of its revenue from video services and is looking to expand more into the phone industry.[9]

Trends and Forces

Changing Media Landscape Endangers Charter's Business

Consumers are increasingly replacing their television viewing with online entertainment. Commercial-free streaming of television shows and movies online has become an attractive option, while Social media sites like MySpace and YouTube take away advertising revenue for communications companies.

Because of today's various media options, only the Fall season sees prime-time television programming dominate other entertainment alternatives. Young people want programming at more flexible times, necessitating downloading or digital recording which eats into advertisers' traditionally captive audience. [10] The changing media landscape has increased competition for Charter Communications, and has made Charter's services more easily replaceable. [11]

For Charter to avoid bankruptcy and find stability, it will be need to provide more flexible services to increasingly demanding customers and somehow retain advertising revenues in a declining market. That means competing head-to-head with telecommunications giants Verizon Communications (VZ) and AT&T (T) who have started providing video, internet and phone services backed by significant financial, regulatory, and technological advantages.

Larger Competitors Have Inherent Advantages

Economies of scale that exist in the communications business provide major competitive advantages for large firms. Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) dominate over 60% of the Multiple Service Operator market share. This allows the companies to negotiate national programming deals with entertainment companies, expand their video on-demand and HD technologies, and make other technology and customer service investments that rely on the revenue support of the company's large subscribers. [12] Scale also gives Comcast and Time Warner regulatory advantages - for instance, the FCC has allowed Comcast exclusive sports network contracting that affords subscribers improved viewing access. [13]

The television industry is also seeing major price increases for programming. Larger service providers have an advantage when it comes to affording these price increases, as they can spread the cost over their bigger subscriber base, and actually drive up prices through competitive bidding. Programming contracts must be renewed every few years, and Charter may have difficulty maintaining its channel variety in the next few years, which would further alienate its already thinning customer base. [14]

Reclassification as an Investment Company Endangers Charter's Liquidity

Charter Communications invests much of itself in a holding company called Charter Holdco. Charter currently has more than a 50% membership kljklkljkkjkkjkjkj in Charter Holdco. If Charter's membership interest in Charter Holdco dipped below 50%, Charter Communications' interest in Charter Holdco would be considered an "investment security" under the Investment Company Act. If a court were to determine that Class B common stock holders no longer held voting rights, Charter's membership in Holdco would dip below 50%, and Charter Communications would likely become an investment company (unless it were granted an exception from the Investment Company Act by appeal).

If Charter Communications were reclassified as an Investment Company, it would lose much of its ability to finance itself through issuing debt and selling its stock. Because Charter does not generate enough cash to cover its expenses through its operations, reclassification as an Investment Company could destroy Charter's liquidity and have other unpredictable negative impacts. [15]


Charter's direct competitors are other Multiple Service Operators. These companies provide bundled communication services which include television, internet, and phone services in discounted monthly packages.

Charter provides very similar services to other Multiple Service Operators at comparable or higher prices. [16] All Multiple Service Operators must compete in terms of each of their individual services.

Television Competition: The Satellite Sensation Sweeps the Nation?

Charter competes with other forms of video access like direct broadcast satellite, which 27 million Americans subscribe to due to its greater variety of channels. DBS packages are cheaper than comparable Charter Communications services by 30% on average [17] . Popular direct broadcasting satellite providers include The DirecTV Group (DTV) and EchoStar Communications (DISH).

The internet's increasing delivery of free, high quality television programs and movies also imperils a growing number of Charter's video services.

Telephone Competition: Threats of Verizon on the Horizon?

Charter's internet and telephone services directly compete with the entire telecommunications industry, containing many firms with greater financial and personnel resources, strong brand name recognition, and long-standing relationships with regulatory authorities and customers that Charter lacks. A growing number of these companies like AT&T (T) and Verizon Communications (VZ) are looking to become Multiple Service Operators by partnering with satellite television providers. [18]

Internet Competition: Will Web Business Ebb?

DSL services from companies like AT&T (T) , Verizon Communications (VZ) , and Bell South undermine Charter's internet service providing market. While most DSL providers cannot compete with Charter's download speed, Verizon Communications (VZ) has been beefing up its fiber deployment, which is allowing them to offer higher bandwidth services than Charter. [19] Charter's services, while priced at an average level, are notoriously inconsistent. Consumers consistently rank Charter's internet services poorly compared to competitors. [20], [21]


  1. CHTR Official Website, About Us
  2. Top 25 MSOs of 2007
  3. PC World's Best and Worst ISPs
  4. Charter Cable Rating, #6
  5. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/industries/Telecommunications/1.html
  6. CHTR 2007 10K, pg.13
  7. http://www.charter.com/
  8. CHTR 2007 10K, pg.2
  9. CHTR 2007 10K, pg.8
  10. MIT's Communication Forum: The nature of changing audiences
  11. CHTR 2007 10K, pg.25
  12. MSO Subscriber Numbers
  13. Ruling Granting Comcast Exclusive Access
  14. CHTR 2007 10K, pg.25
  15. CHTR 2007 10K, pg.27
  16. CHTR 2007 10K, pg.14
  17. CHTR 2007 10K, pg.13
  18. CHTR 2007 10K, pg.14
  19. CHTR 2007 10K, pg.15
  20. PC World ISP Provider Analysis
  21. National DSL Rankings
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