Rutledge Named CEO at Charter

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Thomas Rutledge, who just resigned last week as chief operating officer at Cablevision Systems, has been named president and chief executive officer of Charter Communications effective immediately.

Rutledge, 58, was rumored to be a strong possibility for the Charter job after he announced his resignation from Cablevision, where he spent more than a decade. He replaces Michael Lovett, who in October announced plans to step down from his post at Charter once a successor was hired. Lovett will stay involved with Charter until Feb. 13.

“After conducting a comprehensive search process, the Board is delighted to welcome Tom to the Charter team,” Eric L. Zinterhofer, chairman of Charter's board of directors, said in a written statement. “Tom is a highly accomplished executive with a long track record of success. He has the rare combination of operational expertise and strategic vision to lead Charter through its promising next phase of growth. We look forward to working with him.”

Rutledge, widely considered to be one of the best executives in the industry, led New York City-centric Cablevision to become the envy of its peers. During his tenure as COO, Cablevision rapidly expanded its triple-play bundle customer base, rolled out such innovative services as the remote-storage DVR, and most recently acquired Bresnan Communications to broaden its footprint into four western states. His resignation comes as the company faces intensifying competition from Verizon's FiOS service in the New York City market and faces declining growth, in large part due to its successes; the company has achieved the highest advanced services penetration rates and highest average revenue per unit of any major cable operator.

Others who had been rumored to be under consideration for the CEO spot at St. Louis-based Charter were former Time Warner Cable Chief Operating Officer Landel Hobbs and Insight Communications COO Dinni Jain. But Rutledge could generate some much-needed enthusiasm for Charter, which has 4.4 million basic video customers but continues to trail its peers on market penetration and spent a stint in Chapter 11 protection two years ago. Charter in 3Q11 showed some spark, with revenues up 3 percent year over year and its net additions of 53,000 in high-speed Internet customers beating analysts' expectations.

By Scott Sleek