Relatively small cable and Internet company Charter Communications has earned a number of Worst Company In America brackets but often fails to progress beyond the first round because it’s just not big enough to be hated by a nationwide audience. That could change, as the company’s owner reportedly seeks to acquire Time Warner Cable and possibly Cablevision.
TWC being swallowed by Charter would be like a toddler eating an entire ham, but sources tell Bloomberg that Liberty Media, which recently purchased a 27% stake in Charter, is investigating ways to make a deal that would appease shareholders, even though Time Warner Cable appears to be resistant. Liberty already owns 1% of TWC.
Liberty Chairman John Malone has made no attempt to hide plans to expand Charter, recently telling Liberty shareholders that the cable company — currently the fourth-largest in the nation — would transform into “a horizontal acquisition machine.”
An acquisition that seems more sensible, at least in terms of size, is Charter’s reported attempt to take over Cablevision. The roadblock to that deal would be the Dolan family, who have had a steely grip on the company for decades. Of course, the Dolans have repeatedly failed to take Cablevision private, so there might be room for Charter to slip in there and take control.
Aside from simply increasing its subscription revenue by acquiring new customers, Charter needs to expand to compete. As most of you know, negotiations between broadcasters and cable companies have become increasingly nasty — and increasingly public — in recent years. Acquiring TWC would instantly make Charter the nation’s second-largest cable provider, giving it significantly more leverage to get better rates with broadcasters.
Not that any of those improved rates would be passed on to customers through discounts or improved service.