New York -- When it comes to battling direct-broadcast satellite providers,
both Adelphia Communications Corp. and Charter Communications Inc. are playing
to cable’s local advantage.
That was one message that came through for attendees of a breakfast panel
featuring Adelphia president and chief operating officer Ron Cooper and Charter
president and CEO Carl Vogel, held by the New York Chapter of the Cable &
Telecommunications Association for Marketing at The Grand Hyatt here this
During the "Architects of Transformation and Restorers of Progress" session,
moderated by CableFAX Daily columnist Paul Maxwell, both executives
talked up how the financially troubled companies had restructured themselves
into regions, placing more resources and decision-making authority into the
hands of executives at the local level.
"Satellite can’t match our feet on the street," Cooper said after advocating
the importance of interaction between employees and subscribers, as customer
care will only become more critical when such complex services as home
networking are rolled out.
Vogel spoke about the value of local content, citing Charter’s airing of St.
Louis University athletics in that market and offering broadcast stations in HD
in top markets as "better alternatives to the satellite option."
Speaking about the need to have a presence in retail outlets, Vogel added
that Charter was evaluating its current marketing programs, questioning the role
of direct mail and telemarketing in today’s landscape. "We might be better
served with redeployment [of those resources] to the front line," he said.
Meanwhile, Cooper acknowledged that Adelphia has been late with plant
upgrades, but he expected the MSO to take a proactive role with HDTV
"It’s not so much about how many people will actually purchase the service,
but it’s about having a competitive advantage. Satellite can’t do it all on the
local level," he said.
Cooper also noted that Adelphia was assessing the merits of a name change,
and one could be in the offing over the next 12-18 months. "There are
brand-strategy issues with customers. But there also are challenges and expenses
involved," he added.