Cable Operators

Cablevision Losing ‘Unsung Hero’ Bickham

11/21/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Cablevision Systems is losing
a top operating executive described as an
“unsung hero” of its industry-leading performance.

John Bickham, Cablevision’s president of
cable and communications and a 25-year
veteran of the cable industry, told the Bethpage,
N.Y.-based MSO he is leaving later this
month. “I have been thinking about this move
for some time, and the timing seems right,”
he said in a statement the company released.
“My goal when I came here eight years ago
was to be a part of building something special.
We collectively had a lot of success, and
I feel very fortunate to have worked with so
many bright and creative people at Cablevision.”

Cablevision had no comment beyond the
release, in which chief operating officer Tom
Rutledge said: “Much of Cablevision’s success
over the last decade is due in no small part to
the efforts of John Bickham, and we will miss
him.”

Bickham joined Cablevision in 2004 after
nine years at Time Warner Cable, where
he had worked for Rutledge and oversaw the
North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas
markets. Earlier he was a founding executive
vice president at cable provider KBLCOM.

He’s known as a
hands-on executive
responsible for the
New York metro area
MSO’s day-to-day operations.
With Rutledge
and CEO James
Dolan, he helped oversee
one of the great
growth stories in the
cable industry. In the
seven years since he
joined Cablevision,
the MSO has increased
high-speed data penetration
to 52.9% from
25.6%; upped phone
penetration to 53.6%
from 1.6%; and led in
revenue and cash-flow
growth.

He received the 2007 NCTA Vanguard
Award for Cable Operations Management.

“John is one of those great unsung heroes
of both Cablevision and the cable industry at
large,” Insight Communications CEO Michael
Willner said. “He’s a man of no talk and all action.
He will be sorely missed by many.”

After acquiring Bresnan Communications
in June, Cablevision has shown some
signs that its growth is slowing. The company
lost 23,000 and 19,000 basic
customers, respectively, in
the second and third quarters
this year, and growth of
high-speed data and phone
products has been sluggish.

Bickham did not hint at future
plans, but his name will
inevitably be linked to the
opening at Charter Communications,
where CEO Mike
Lovett is leaving in April to
pursue other interests. He
also could be attractive to
private-equity firms interested
in investing in cable,
with the right manager at the
helm.

“Clearly, with Tom Rutledge,
he did a great job with
Cablevision. They are off the
map in terms of penetration of advanced services,”
Miller Tabak media analyst David
Joyce said. “If he wants to keep working, I’m
sure he’ll find a place to do so.”

September