Cable’s Building Boom: New HQs on the Way

Cable’s Building Boom: New HQs on the Way
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Cable operators’ good times — both for public companies (see Cover Story, page 10) and privately owned ones — seem to be suddenly spilling over into new headquarters space.

Last week, Charter Communications, the fourth-biggest MSO, accepted congratulations from Connecticut Gov. Dannell Malloy for selecting Stamford as its new corporate home. The state helped entice CEO Tom Rutledge’s firm with a 2%-interest loan of $6.5 million; in return, publicly held Charter promised to create at least 200 jobs, including an estimated 70 current employees moving in from St. Louis.

At an Oct. 2 press conference in one of two empty floors in a building otherwise occupied by employees of the bank UBS, Rutledge said Charter also plans to add system-level staffers in its growing Connecticut operations.

He said he hopes to be in his new office later this year.

In Atlanta, Cox Communications, No. 3 on the list of U.S. MSOs, will be consolidating several sites into a new, 19-story office building. Privately owned parent Cox Enterprises, on Sept. 28, announced plans to build it in time for 2015 occupancy. Cox Enterprises has its headquarters in the same complex, known as Central Park, and the cable company’s information technology and engineering operations are already moving there, too, spokesman Todd Smith said.

“This will bring the rest of Cox Communications over to that campus,” he said. “It’ll be nice to be in a place where we are relatively co-located.” Cox did not seek any government assistance for the project, he said.

And in Blooming Grove, N.Y., the new headquarters for eighth-ranked MSO Mediacom Communications is taking shape on a hill visible from major artery Route 17. The 110,000-square-foot building, on land that was owned for about a decade by chairman and CEO Rocco Commisso, will host about 250 employees moving from other offices but has the capacity to hold 400, group vice president Thomas Larsen said.

“Ideally, we’d like to get in by the end of December” but that might slip a few weeks, depending on construction, he said.

Privately held Mediacom, like Charter, looked at several other locations — including in Mahwah, N.J., and Harrison, N.Y. — before settling on this Orange County site about 15 miles southeast of current headquarters in Middletown, N.Y. Mediacom got about $7.5 million in state grants and tax credits. Construction began in August 2011.

The Wire will report back on any housewarming parties we attend.

Name That Nor’easter: TWC Has a Perfect Plan

The Weather Channel always has to walk a fine programming line, usually carrying an umbrella in one hand and a balance sheet in the another.

The channel draws eyeballs when big storms loom so — as one executive put it at an industry conference many years ago — the best-case scenario is a huge storm that threatens the East Coast for days but eventually does not take lives or property.

Last week, the channel said it would start naming threatening winter storms, which, unlike hurricanes, have only been christened informally, and usually after the fact. “Snowmageddon” and “President’s Day Storm” come to mind.

Weather said naming them makes it easier for viewers to track and talk about them. In a nod to the fine line it must walk, though, the network said it “might even be fun and entertaining.”

In that spirit — and before one of those fun and entertaining storms knocks out our power or drops a tree on our car — The Wire had some initial thoughts on what names might be thrown into the hopper, or excluded from the list of potential maelstrom monikers.

Frosty: Not sufficiently threatening, plus the suggestion he will be back again someday might suggest Weather Channel was rooting for a ratings-boosting return.

Winter Warlock: We like this one, though it might have to be confined to storms of shaved styrofoam and cheesy snowflake graphics.

DQ Blizzard, McFlurry, Ben, and/or Jerry: Productplacement or sponsorship tie-ins could be a new revenue source for the channel.

Iceman: Obvious headline possibilities depending on whether or not he shows up.

The Abominable Snow Monster (aka Bumble): Maybe one too many Rankin/Bass references, but getting the insurance check to fix the car or repair the roof is like pulling teeth.

Rudolph: If the center of a hurricane is an angry “eye,” maybe the center of a winter storm should be a frozen “nose.”

— John Eggerton

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