Charter is up for sale

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 24, 2002

Despite unresolved problems with the city, Charter Communications’ Suffolk-based cable system is for sale. Matt Favre, operations director for eastern Virginia, recently confirmed that the system is listed with several brokers.

The system includes franchises with approximately 10 localities in the region, including Suffolk, Smithfield, Franklin and Southampton County.

&uot;There is no buyer at this time,&uot; Favre said. &uot;I don’t foresee any thing imminent in the near future.&uot;

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He stressed that a sale would not impact service to customers.

This past summer, after Charter failed to meet progress benchmarks established its settlement agreement to make digital service available across the city, the Suffolk City Council voted to revoke the company’s local franchise.

Also, Charter owes the city more than $300,000 in penalties and fees because of its failure to meet deadlines set up in the settlement agreement, said Assistant City Manager Cindy Rohlf.

That council’s action at that time gave Charter 60 days to show documentation that it had complied with all terms of the agreement, said Rohlf.

Since the end of that time, the city’s cable consultants have been reviewing information submitted by Charter, said Mayor E. Dana Dickens III.

He expects the consultants to make a report and recommendation to council early next year.

Even if the local franchise does sell, it won’t influence the city’s actions against Charter, Rohlf said. &uot;I don’t expect it to be an issue,&uot; she said.

Cable company officials have publicly acknowledged that some deadlines were missed. Nonetheless, Charter has maintained that the $12 million rebuild was complete more than a month before its June 1 deadline.

Meanwhile, a growing number of business and residential customers in Suffolk and surrounding localities are tapping into Charter’s digital cable and Internet service.

&uot;We are real satisfied with the tremendous growth we’ve had here,&uot; Favre said. &uot;We are continuing to experience phenomenal growth.&uot;