A trio of top cable TV executives were hired to save Charter Communications recently. Charter is a company that just a year ago a service truck was worth more than 50,000 shares of common stock.
The trio is all from New York, having worked at Cablevision. They don’t want to move to St. Louis and want some of the current support staff to move to New York, where the plan to obtain office space in Manhattan.
Here is some free advice to these big shots. Let’s look at the plusses and minus in this deal.
Housing and costs
You can buy a house three times as big as the one you own now for less money. You also see a lower tax rate on the house. Your grocery bill will be cheaper and gasoline won’t cost as much. There are the occasional tornado sirens going off, but you will not have to deal with any hurricanes or Nor’easter snowstorms.
Your corporate headquarters are currently in Town and Country. You could live in a 10,000 square foot house and still ride a bike or walk to work. If you wanted to live further away but still with rich big shots, say in Ladue to the east or Chesterfield to the west your commute by car would be 15 minutes. That’s a lot better than 75-minute one-way commute on the Long Island Railroad.
There is virtually no crime where your corporate offices are currently located. Your only encounter with the police would likely be if you plan to drive while intoxicated or speed on I-270.
Remaining a Big Shot
There is a symphony here where you or your wife can get on the board and be a bigger deal than you are now in New York. The Art Museum and Zoo would love to have you on their boards of directors. You and your wife can attend a charity event at the Ritz-Carlton hotel and get your photos in two weekly society magazines and the Saturday edition of the newspaper.
There are plenty of good overpriced Italian restaurants where you can impress your friends by spending $350 on a table for four but far there are fewer mobsters.
Local trash service is not controlled by organized crime, that I know of.
Do you really expect sensible Midwesterners to want to move to New York and get less house for more money, deal with clogged roads, crime and long commutes? You will have to hire more New Yorkers to do the support work being done in St. Louis, which will cost more and drive down profits and eventually drive up rates for us dopes out here in St. Louis.
Of course you will miss having the opportunity to hear from your customers, especially when you move the most popular channel with older viewers (Turner Classic Movies) to the more expensive digital product so you can squeeze a few dollars out of your elderly customers who can least afford to pay it.
I have Charter Cable and Internet service. For the last month my internet connection is failing once or twice a day forcing me to reset the expensive modem I was recently forced to buy. This usually happens in the noon hour and sometimes in the late afternoon. I’d love to tell you that at the checkout at the Schnucks or Dierbergs 60,000 square foot supermarkets less than a mile from your headquarters.
Sending a message
You are sending a very clear message to your stockholders, customers and employees. You care so little about the day-to-day operations of this company that you don’t want to be part of it. You except some corporate workers to pull their kids out of schools, sell their houses during a recession, have their spouses quit their jobs and relocate to New York so the three of you don’t have to move.
Apparently this company is not worth three people moving here. I have a feeling many of your employees get the message and are looking for jobs elsewhere now. When they go you will be facing more costs in hiring and training their replacements. Costs will go up, profits will go down and rates will go up. Service may go down.
Here is what many of us expect. Charter will be propped up and then sold or merged into a larger cable company and all of the headquarter jobs in St. Louis will vanish. That is the message that is being received.
For many of us when AT&T eventually gets their problems ironed out with U-Verse, we will have a new cable TV company.