On Altice’s ‘Fearless Reinvention’: MSO Looks to Shake Up Culture

When Altice USA took control of Long Island, N.Y.-based Cablevision Systems, some top executives surprised the rank and file by sitting down for lunch in the staff canteen, a move that some reports said would never have occurred under previous management. But occasional mingling with the clock-punchers is just the start of what appears to be an attempt to transform the corporate culture of the entire company, formed after European telco Altice N.V. purchased Cablevision and Suddenlink Communications for a combined $26.8 billion.

In a memo to employees, Altice USA chairman and CEO Dexter Goei calls it “Fearless Reinvention,” a program geared to create a culture that inspires and motivates workers to do their best work and deliver the best customer service.

Fearless reinvention is part of the new Altice USA anthem — which can be viewed via video on the corporate intranet site — and the company has already started some aspects of the program, including creating the intranet site. Through that portal, employees can access features like DirectLine, where company leaders ask for ideas and comments on specific topics. Workers also can get sneak peeks at new ads, check out progress on a workspace reinvention project and tune in to quarterly updates from management.

Other initiatives in the pipeline include a new, more casual workplace dress code; the elimination of reserved executive parking; the creation of employee focus groups; wellness programs and opportunities to support charities through Altice USA Volunteer Day.

“For many of us, we’re used to a culture that’s predictable — we were familiar with what was around the corner,” Goei wrote. “But when you’re building a new company and a new culture, we may not always know what the next step is or how it will evolve. That’s why it’s so important to participate and engage, and give feedback. Together we have a unique opportunity to build an amazing culture that we’re all proud to be a part of.”

Scoring With Football Fans

DENVER — Looking to connect with football fans as the kickoff of the National Football League’s regular season approached, DirecTV made its local presence known last Tuesday (Sept. 6) with a fantasy football draft at The Tavern in Denver, home to the reigning Super Bowl champs, the Denver Broncos.

In addition to playing host for about 300 people and the drafting of 29 fantasy football teams, DirecTV, now owned by AT&T, was also there to tout “NFL Sunday Ticket,” its exclusive out-of-market games package.

At the event, DirecTV also gave away some fantasy football goodies, including draft boards and a booklet to help teams with their picks, as well as some timers to keep everything flowing.

To add to the local flair, two former Broncos — wide receiver Ed McCaffrey and kicker David Treadwell — were on hand to sign autographs and talk football with the fans.

“It’s a way to highlight our premier sports programming and the benefits of NFL Sunday Ticket,” Ed Balcerzak, senior vice president, commercial and connected communities at AT&T, said of the event. “Bars and restaurants are a big part of that. It’s a great way to create awareness.”

Balcerzak, who is based in the Denver area but a fan of the Buffalo Bills (yes, he gets NFL Sunday Ticket), said sales of the package were on target for the new season, noting that it should get some lift amid this year’s expanded access to college students.

“We think we’ll see tremendous growth there,” he said, noting that DirecTV now serves roughly 400,000 establishments with video, including about 30,000 bars and restaurants, and is adding more services to the mix thanks to the new connection to AT&T.

— Jeff Baumgartner

T. Howard Looking For Good ‘M.E.N.’ As Media Interns

The T. Howard Foundation has placed more than 800 minority college students in internships in the media and entertainment industry over the past two decades — the majority of whom have been women.

The diversity organization is looking to change that dynamic with the launch of its new M.E.N. (Mentor, Engage & Network) program that will look to recruit and train more male students for industry internships and, hopefully, industry jobs.

T. Howard will hold a Diversity Week networking event on Sept. 20, hosted by A&E, targeted to young men who previously made it to the Final Talent Pool (FTP) but were not chosen for internships, as well as to those who are not familiar with the program, according to T. Howard CEO Jo Pamphile. At press time, 30 young men had already RSVP’d to attend, she said.

The goal of the initiative, spearheaded by T. Howard associate program manager Brynton Lett, is to increase recruitment of men to the program by 10%, as well as to create strategies that address male retention, according to Pamphile. Last year the T Howard internship class had only 32 men out of 91 total students, and since 2011 men have only represented 25% to 30% of the internship class.

Pamphile said the organization will lean on T. Howard alumni to mentor and engage young men to be more active in the program. The organization will also look to create forums and spaces in major markets like Atlanta, New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, where potential recruits can learn more about the program and become more engaged.

The M.E.N. initiative comes as the organization accepts applications for its 2017 class. T. Howard received 1,700 applications for its internship program last year, Pamphile said.

— R. Thomas Umstead