Charter to Disconnect Slow-Paying Subs


Charter Communications Inc. said it would disconnect about 120,000
subscribers during the first quarter as part of a new plan to get tough on
slow-paying customers.

In a telephone interview, Charter president and CEO Carl Vogel said the
disconnects hopefully would not result in negative total-subscriber growth in

Charter had 0.6 percent basic growth in 2001, and Vogel said 2002 basic
growth would likely be lower than that.

The 120,000 customers who would be disconnected represent about 1.7 percent
of Charter's total subscriber base of 6.9 million.

About 50 percent of the affected customers have digital set-top boxes, Vogel
said. He added that the hoped to win most of the disconnected customers back
through innovative pricing of the digital product.

'Our plan for 2002 is to be much more focused on bundling digital and data,
for example, than going to deep discounting to match DBS [direct-broadcast
satellite] offers,' he said.

Charter had begun to eliminate deep discounting -- as much as $30 to $40 per
month -- before Vogel signed on as CEO in October. Now, he said, the move to
eliminate such discounts entirely has been 'embraced in earnest.'

For the quarter, Charter reported revenue growth of 13.6 percent, and
operating cash flow was up 11 percent -- in line with most analysts'

For the year, digital subscribers rose by 967,000 to 2.1 million and
cable-modem customers increased by 379,000 to 607,000.

For 2002, Charter said it expects to add between 550,000 and 600,000 digital
customers and some 550,000 to 600,000 data customers.