Channel change in Tahoe |

Channel change in Tahoe

Susan Wood

Charter Communications, Inc., which serves more than 4,000 cable subscribers in Tahoe Paradise and Meyers, will buy several AT&T Broadband cable systems in three regions, including the Lake Tahoe, Reno and Carson City operations.

The deal in Nevada alone will amount to a 156,000-subscriber gain for Charter’s 6.4 million customers nationwide.

AT&T Broadband will receive cash, Charter stock and cable systems worth a combined $1.79 billion.

The transaction is expected to close in the second or third quarter. It’s subject to certain closing conditions and regulatory review.

The programming picture is up in the air.

“I don’t think anyone is going to know what the region or programming is going to look like,” Charter Properties General Manager David Jordan said Friday from his Sacramento office.

Jordan’s Northwest Region was left out of the St. Louis-based corporate negotiations.

He did indicate that AT&T Broadband’s South Lake Tahoe operations, which serve more than 15,000 subscribers on the South Shore, run about 85 percent of the same programming as Charter’s southern Tahoe operations.

“With significant residential growth and pent-up demand for broadband services, Reno, the 111th ranked market (in the nation), is an excellent addition to Charter,” President and Chief Executive Officer Jerry Kent said.

Charter Communications has expressed a desire to buy more cable operations, while AT&T is focusing on metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.

“We’re concentrating on the metropolitan areas,” AT&T Broadband’s regional spokesman Brian Dietz said from his Sacramento office. “It’s cost prohibitive to run a fiber line from Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe.”

Dietz called the sellout part of a “clustering strategy” of AT&T Broadband. The business unit of AT&T is the nation’s largest broadband services company, serving about 16 million customers nationwide.

Other areas which will be affected in the deal include the St. Louis, Miami and Birmingham, Ala. markets.

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